Paris - David Ferrer wrecked French hopes of a first male champion at Roland
Garros in 30 years on Friday when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1,
7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in the semi-finals.
It was a crippling blow to the
sixth seed who was out to match the feat of Yannick Noah, who last won
the title for France in 1983.
But it was a richly deserved reward
for outstanding perseverance on the part of 31-year-old Ferrer, who
reached his first Grand Slam final in his 42nd appearance, by far the
longest wait in the Open Era.
In the final, he has the daunting
task of going up against fellow Spaniard and seven-time champion Rafael
Nadal, who defeated world No 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7
(3/7), 9-7 in the first semi-final.
Nadal leads their head-to-heads 19-4.
It will be the first all-Spanish final since 2002 when Albert Costa defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero.
am really happy to be in the final at Roland Garros. It's my first ever
Grand Slam final," said Ferrer, who has yet to drop a set in the
"I am older, but more experienced. I am not too tired,
so this is very important. To play the final against Rafael Nadal I
need to be 100 percent to be able to play good against him."
match had been given top billing in France as the belief was growing
that the popular Tsonga could end 30 years of French frustration on the
red clay-courts of Roland Garros.
The 28-year-old from the
car-racing town of Le Mans revved up home hopes of a title win on Sunday
with his straight sets demolition of 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger
Federer in the quarter-finals.
But coming immediately after the
marathon, five-set win by Nadal over Djokovic in the opening semi, there
was a sense of anti-climax when the players marched out onto a
half-empty centre court in the early evening sunshine.
The mood was not helped either when Ferrer made by far the better start, jumping out into a 4-0 lead in just 15 minutes.
crowd chanted Tsonga's name in a bid to kick-start his match, but
little was going right for the Frenchman who was playing in his first
French Open semi-final in what was his sixth attempt.
He did have a
break point in the following game, but failed to convert that as he
found himself embroiled in a succession of punishing baseline rallies -
bread and butter to a player like Ferrer.
The Spaniard, who lost
to Nadal in last year's semi-finals, duly wrapped up the set 6-1 and
Tsonga was left looking decidedly tight and unable to deploy his own
Tsonga nosed in front at the start of the second
set and that appeared to briefly unlock the door for the Frenchman as
he broke to love in the following game.
He took a 3-0 lead, but Ferrer broke back to 3-2 with Tsonga hotly contesting a line call against him on break point.
double fault from the home hero handed Ferrer another break to lead
4-3, but he handed that back in the next game with a couple of
uncustomary unforced errors.
Tsonga hit long on set point at 5-4 and that proved costly as he dropped the ensuing tie-break 7/3 to go two sets to love down.
hopes were fading fast and they dimmed even further early in the third
set as Ferrer broke in the fourth game to lead 3-1.
That was all
he needed as an increasingly frustrated Tsonga looked bereft of ideas
and lost in his own thoughts, at one point forgetting to tell Ferrer he
was serving with new balls.
Ferrer got to 5-2 up and won five points in a row from 40-0 down on Tsonga's serve to clinch the win.
French Open results on Friday (x denotes seeded player):
Rafael Nadal (ESP x3) bt Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 9-7
David Ferrer (ESP x4) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x6) 6-1, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2
Women's doubles semi-finals
Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci (ITA/ITA x1) bt Nadia Petrova/Katarina Srebotnik (RUS/SLO x3) 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (RUS/RUS x4) bt Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka (CZE/CZE x2) 6-4, 7-5