Matt Brown's French Open semi-final picks

Novak Djokovic prepares to serve in the French Open. Photo / Getty Images
Novak Djokovic prepares to serve in the French Open. Photo / Getty Images

It's been the coldest and arguably the wettest French Open ever and has felt more like an All Blacks rugby tour in November than Roland Garros in springtime. The action is sure to heat up this weekend though with a mouth-watering semi-final line up.

World number one Novak Djokovic is two wins away from an elusive first French Open title which would put him in esteemed company as one of only eight players to win all four men's majors. It would also secure him a 12th Grand Slam and put him well on the way to eclipsing Roger Federer's all time record of 17.

He was my favourite at the start of the tournament and is still my favourite, but only just. Djokovic's straight sets victory over Tomas Berdych has set up a semi-final against Dominic Thiem, a 22 year old Austrian who seems destined to become a future number one.

Thiem is described as a player with a blend of the 'big four' His serve and volley is reminiscent of Federer, his return of serve like Djokovic and his heavy groundstrokes are similar to Nadal.

He is a natural on clay and with three titles on the surface this year, fears no one including Djokovic. The Serb has won their two previous matches and I'm going for Novak to win again, but he will be tested.

The bottom half of the men's draw has gone with seeding's with defending champion Stan Wawrinka seeded third, to meet second seed Andy Murray. Wawrinka's form has been shaky most of the year, but in winning Geneva just prior to Roland Garros and getting his confidence back, the Swiss is the most dangerous player left in the draw.

Murray has been largely unconvincing this Roland Garros, struggling through two five setters in the early rounds, and was close to going two sets to love down against Richard Gasquet in the quarter finals.

On every other court surface I give Murray a slight edge. They have both won two Grand Slam titles and Murray is the more consistent player, but on Philippe Chatrier, Wawrinka is a different proposition, the scene of his famous triumph over Djokovic a year ago, Wawrinka can blow an opponent away with his groundstrokes, I'm picking Stan to win, but it could go the distance.

The women's tournament has always been about if not Serena then who? Well my pick Simona Halep lost in the fourth round, and the American is still going, as strong as ever.

Williams survived a fright in the quarter finals against Yulia Putinseva who had break points for 5-4 second set after winning the first 7-5. But as she has done countless times, Williams found a way to win and it's her tournament to lose. She's motivated by her recent failures in New York and Melbourne and the desire to join Steffi Graf in second on the all-time list with 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

Tonight she meets unseeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens who is on a roll having won a lead in tournament to Paris and having beaten Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber in the first round and last year's semi-finalist Timea Bacsinszky in the quarter finals this morning. Bertens plays with no fear and hits big groundstrokes but will be in her first Grand Slam semi-final but nerves can't help be a factor against Williams.

It's amazing to think Sam Stosur hasn't been in a Grand Slam semi-final since winning the US Open in 2011. The Aussie's favourite surface is clay though and she is into her fourth semi here without playing her best tennis. Standing in her way is 4th seed Garbine Muguruza, a power hitter in stark contrast to the great Spanish women's players before her, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez. I sense Muguruza will be contesting plenty of Grand Slam finals in years to come, having finished runner up to Williams at Wimbledon last year. Both players have experience at the business end of slams and it will come down to who handles the pressure best, I'm thinking Muguruza in three sets.

Matt Brown is in Paris thanks to Emirates Airline

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 28 Oct 2016 10:39:25 Processing Time: 728ms