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PREVIEW: 2022 ATP/WTA Tour – Selected French Open Semi-finals

Damien Kayat previews the ATP and WTA Tour French Open semi-finals between Martina Trevisan and Coco Gauff as well as Rafa Nadal vs Alex Zverev on 02 June 2022.

Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Damien Kayat previews the ATP and WTA Tour French Open semi-finals between Martina Trevisan and Coco Gauff as well as Rafa Nadal vs Alex Zverev on 02 June 2022.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022 WTA/ATP Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
French Open
Stade Roland Garros, Paris, France (Outdoor Clay-court)
Selected Semi-finals- 2nd June

Martina Trevisan (23/10) vs Coco Gauff (18) (32/100)

Honestly, trying to predict a women’s Grand Slam these days is pure guesswork. This has got to be one of the greatest examples of a player riding the momentum of a Grand Slam precursor.

Martina Trevisan is your stereotypical clay-court journeywoman (a whopping 17 of her 18 ITF finals have come on clay). She has only gone beyond the 2nd round of one previous Grand Slam: she reached the quarterfinals of the 2020 French Open. This is probably the only slam that 28-year-old Trevisan has a legitimate chance to win. But her form was nowhere going into this year’s Morocco Open (she was 3-8 for the year going into Rabat). But she was inspirational in Morocco, claiming her maiden WTA title. And she just seems to be feeding off this positive juju.

She never dropped a set in her first four matches (though she did receive an extremely favourable draw). But most would have assumed that 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez would have dispatched her. But Trevisan was relentless, just continuously making Fernandez hit another ball, another ball. She smartly exploited Fernandez’s aggressive style, forcing her into a plethora of unforced errors.

That victory took Trevisan’s winning streak to 10 matches. Trevisan is the first Italian woman since Sara Errani in 2013 to reach the final four at Roland Garros.

Coco Gauff easily dispatched of compatriot Sloane Stephens to reach her maiden Grand Slam semi-final. It was sweet revenge for Gauff after last year’s US Open defeat to Stephens. Gauff is yet to drop a set this year and has looked in emphatic form. She probably looks the most complete of any player thus far (Swiatek included).

It’s easy to forget that Gauff is still just 18 years of age. That’s what happens when you burst onto the scene at the age of 15! Gauff has shown an affinity for clay for some time. She won her 2nd WTA title at last year’s Emilia-Romagna Open. She also reached her maiden WTA 1000 semi-final at last year’s Italian Open.

She has also developed a fine Roland Garros pedigree, reaching the quarterfinals last year before this year’s semi-final run (she also won the junior title here in 2018). Gauff has served well this week and her often erratic forehand has improved markedly.

The Verdict: Gauff to win in three at 3/1- Trevisan actually leads the head-to-head 1-0. Crucially, that victory came in the 2nd round of the 2020 French Open. That match was memorable for the fact that Gauff served an incredible 19 double faults. The American is far more mature now and I can’t see her tightening up to that degree. I think that Gauff will ultimately persevere due to her serve and consistent power. But the dogged Trevisan won’t go down without a fight (this may be the only time she makes the final four of a Slam).

Rafa Nadal (4) (4/11) vs Alex Zverev (3) (9/4)

Rafa Nadal’s redemption arc is complete. Many would have thought that last year’s semi-final defeat to Novak represented the end of the era for the ‘King of Clay’. He was forced to miss much of the rest of the 2021 season due to a foot injury.

But Nadal has roared back to prominence with an amazing 2022 campaign. His victory at the Aussie Open was mitigated to some extent by the absence of Djokovic. But he silenced any naysayers with a brilliant display against a resurgent Djokovic. Many thought that the decision to schedule the game at night would favour the Serb (the colder conditions could take some of the bite out of Nadal’s heavy topspin).

But Nadal looked sensational. With Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas eliminated, Nadal looks the odds-on favourite to win his record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title.

I think that Alex Zverev has benefitted immeasurably from the presence of Carlos Alcaraz Garfia. Zverev and Tsitsipas have become the subject of much criticism for their failure to break the dominance of the hallowed ‘Big Three’. But the Spaniard’s meteoric success has taken a little bit of heat away from Zverev.

Nobody was really talking about the German going into this year’s French Open. This despite the fact that he won Olympic Gold and the ATP Finals last year. This has been a very frustrating season for Zverev. He has been the paragon of consistency but is yet to win a title. He has looked impressive on clay, reaching the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo and Rome.

He also managed to reach the final in Madrid. But I don’t think he will care about any of that if he is able to win his maiden Slam in Paris. Zverev reached his 2nd consecutive Roland Garros semi-final courtesy of an upset victory over teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz.

Next up for Zverev is perhaps the toughest task in sport: how to stop a seemingly unstoppable Nadal on the Paris Clay.

The Verdict: Nadal to win in straight sets at 7/4- This has been quite a tasty rivalry, with Nadal holding an unsurprising 6-3 advantage. But their recent history has actually favoured Zverev, with the German winning three of their last four encounters. That included a straight-sets victory for Zverev in Madrid last year. Key to Zverev’s improvement against Nadal has been his serve. His serve has become as potent as anyone and he gets a bucketload of cheap points. But that probably won’t count for much with Nadal standing as deep as he does in Paris. I just think Nadal has the bit between the teeth now and I don’t really see Zverev creating too many break-point possibilities here.

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