Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are one win away from their seemingly inevitable collision course at the 2020 French Open final.
Djokovic will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in one semifinal, while Nadal looks to make his 13th French Open final in 16 years against Diego Schwartzman.
2020 French Open Men’s Semifinal Schedule
(2) Rafael Nadal vs. (12) Diego Schwartzman (8:50 a.m.)
(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas (11 a.m.)
All matches broadcast on Tennis Channel. Coverage on NBC/NBCSN will begin at 11 a.m. ET.
All matches can be streamed at the NBC Sports website.
While both enter as heavy favorites Friday, Djokovic is certainly the one with the tougher test. Tsitsipas is one of the sport’s rising young stars, arguably the best bet to unseat the Djokovic-Nadal-Federer triumvirate from the top of the sport.
The 22-year-old also comes into the French semis with a history of success against Djokovic. The pair have split their six career meetings, making Tsitsipas one of the most successful head-to-head competitors to Djokovic over the last three years.
“He’s a big guy, big serve. He has weapons, obviously serve and forehand, his backhand. He produces a lot of spin. He can play aggressively. He can defend well because he moves well,” Djokovic told reporters of Tsitsipas. “He’s really a complete, all-around player. I think he’s one of the hardworking guys out there.”
Djokovic may also be battling through injury after dealing with shoulder and neck pain throughout his quarterfinals matchup against Pablo Carreno Busta. The severity of Djokovic’s injury is unclear—he said he felt better after he warmed up against Carreno Busta and won the last three sets after losing the first—but it could close the margin for Tsitsipas.
Nadal-Schwartzman is an on-paper mismatch, with the Spaniard taking nine of their 10 career meetings. However, Schwartzman may come into the semis feeling confident after beating Nadal in straight sets earlier this year at the Rome Masters.
“The match in Rome was very strange because Rafa won two very good matches against powerful opponents,” Nadal’s coach, Carlos Moya, told Eurosport. “Against Schwartzman, it was the first time that he had problems in the score, and he did not manage it totally well on a physical or mental level.
“We learned from that moment and now he is at a great level with many more games played. It will be a tough mental battle, and I think we have some weapons that will allow Rafa to compete with guarantees.”
Having both Wednesday and Thursday off will certainly benefit Schwartzman after he needed five hours to take down Dominic Thiem in a grueling five-set quarterfinal. The Argentine had breezed through his first four matches at Roland-Garros.
In terms of Schwartzman’s ability to pull off a second upset, the odds don’t look to be in his favor. It’s near-impossible for a player whose game is built around serve-and-volley like Schwartzman, whose 5’7″ frame keeps him from being a great server, to top the greatest clay-court player of all time. Nadal moves around clay like he’s wearing skates, even at age 34.
Smart money is on tennis getting its much-hyped Nadal-Djokovic final, but that’s what most expected last year before Thiem upset Djokovic before falling to Nadal in the finals. We’ll just have to see if Schwartzman or Tsitsipas proves capable of playing the spoiler.