With NBA free agency winding down, it may seem like every good player has been signed.
A new French Open finalist is guaranteed this year after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga knocked out Roger Federer, the only active former French Open finalist in the bottom half of the draw, overnight.
Tsonga buried the demons of last year’s crushing five-set loss to Novak Djokovic at this stage last year, in which he held four match points in the fourth set, by producing a devastating display to put Federer on the back foot all match and deny him the chance to reclaim the World No. 2 ranking ahead of Wimbledon.
Entering the match, Federer was the only active man in the bottom half of the draw to have reached the final in Paris, winning the title in 2009.
Two other men in the bottom half of the draw have also reached a Major final, including Tsonga himself at the 2008 Australian Open, and Tomas Berdych, who reached the final at Wimbledon three years ago.
Berdych’s first-round loss meant that the bottom half of the draw had the potential to produce a first time Grand Slam finalist.
Now, with Federer’s loss, there will be a first time French Open finalist, while for Tsonga this will be his best chance to reach his second Grand Slam final after going down to Novak Djokovic in Australia five years ago.
Federer’s quarter-final loss means that Andy Murray, who is out with a back injury, will just hang on to his World No. 2 ranking ahead of Wimbledon.
Tsonga will tackle Spain’s David Ferrer, who thrashed fellow compatriot Tommy Robredo to reach the semi-finals in Paris for the second consecutive year and for the fourth time in his last five major tournaments.
Robredo became the first man in Open Era history to win three consecutive matches from two sets to love down when he stunned another fellow compatriot, and three-time French Open quarter-finalist, Nicolas Almagro, in the fourth round.
But he simply ran out of petrol against Ferrer, who will now be bidding to reach his first major final after a decade of service to men’s tennis at the Grand Slams.
Both Ferrer and Tsonga have been very impressive in their runs to the final four, not dropping a set between them. But just who will win will be the most interesting question.
The form guide would say David Ferrer, but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is now the only active man in the bottom half of the draw that has reached a Major final, so history would point towards his direction.
France has not had a homegrown men’s champion since Yannick Noah 30 years ago. It’s not that significant of a drought than that of Britain’s 75-year wait for a British men’s champion at Wimbledon, though.
Personally, I’d love to see a Djokovic versus Tsonga final, but it’s looking very likely that it’ll be Nadal versus Ferrer in the final.
Djokovic and Nadal play their respective quarter-finals tonight (Australian time).
In the first of the women’s quarter-finals, Serena Williams survived a scare from 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Sara Errani upset World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets.
Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova will be favoured to make it four of the world’s top five in the semi-finals when they take on Maria Kirilenko and Jelena Jankovic in their respective quarter-finals.
But now, the big question will be: Can Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ride all the way to the French Open final?