Fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal is bidding for a 10th French Open title, more than anyone has won at a single Grand Slam tournament in the Open era.
He arrived at Roland Garros having won 17 of 18 clay-court matches this season. His opponent in the semi-finals, No 6 Dominic Thiem, entered the year's second Grand Slam tournament with some success on the surface, too, reaching a pair of finals and handing Nadal that lone loss.
Rafael Nadal in action at Roland Garros. AP
Thiem, also a semi-finalist at Roland Garros last year, is coming off a straight-set upset of defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. And although Nadal owns a 4-2 lead in their past matchups, Thiem did win the most recent one, on clay last month at the Italian Open.
Nadal has dropped only 22 games through five matches, his lowest total on the way to the semi-finals at any major, getting to every ball and whipping that heavy-topspin forehand.
Their match is second on Court Philippe Chatrier, after top-ranked Andy Murray takes on No 3 Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 champion.
That match pits a pair of players with three Grand Slam titles apiece. Murray leads their head-to-head series 10-7, including a four-set victory in last year's French Open semi-finals.
Wawrinka is coming off a clay title at the Geneva Open the week before play began in Paris.
In Murray's last clay tuneup before arriving in Paris, Murray lost his first match at the Italian Open. Before that, he bowed out in the third round at both Monte Carlo and Madrid.
Take it back further and add in hard courts: Murray was only 16-7 all season entering Roland Garros.
They can produce terrific exchanges, with Wawrinka ripping his spectacular one-handed backhand and Murray using his tremendous court coverage and defence to extend rallies.
Murray has dropped a total of three sets through five matches; Wawrinka, Nadal and Thiem have won every set they've played so far.
Here's the Order of Play for Friday at Roland Garros:
Court Philippe Chatrier (12.45 PM local/4.15 PM IST)
Andy Murray (GBR x1) v Stan Wawrinka (SUI x3)
Not Before 3.30 PM local/7.00 PM IST
Rafael Nadal (ESP x4) v Dominic Thiem (AUT x6)
Published Date: Jun 10, 2017 00:17 AM
| Updated Date: Jun 10, 2017 00:18 AM