Stats and quotes you need to know ahead of Nadal-Thiem RG semi-final

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Fourth meeting this season: Thiem and Nadal.

The mother of all clay-court showdowns will take place on Court Philippe Chatrier on Friday when Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem – the two players with the most clay wins this season (both have 22) – face off in the Roland Garros semi-finals.

All six of their previous meetings have come on clay and this will be their fourth meeting in the last six weeks. Nadal beat Thiem in the Barcelona and Madrid finals before the 23-year-old Austrian got his revenge in the Rome quarter-finals.

Neither player has dropped a set this fortnight and the match is being described as a virtual final.

Thiem took out Novak Djokovic in straight sets on Wednesday to reach his second consecutive French Open semi-final while Nadal made it through via a Pablo Carreno Busta retirement.

Centre Court at Roland Garros is being described as a high-bouncing clay court by many players and pundits which can actually bring out the best in both players’ games.

It feels like this entire clay swing has been building up to the very moment for Nadal and Thiem and it’s a shame it’s coming at the semi-final stage rather than the final of the French Open.

What the players said


Rafael Nadal

“Thiem is a tough player. I hope that I won’t lose. I won in Barcelona, Madrid, and I lost to him in Rome. We played three times with Dominic. We can have a look at the statistics. We can talk about statistics for hours, but what is important is to consider the match. So either you play well and you advance to the next round or you lose and you’re out. If I play well, I hope that I will be able to book my spot in the final. If I don’t play well, I will be out of the tournament.”

Dominic Thiem

“First of all, it’s great for me to be in the semi-finals again, to defend that. And of course, I think on Friday is coming the toughest opponent ever here in Roland Garros. Gonna be the fourth match against him in, like, five or six weeks. Not really big secrets. Well, he’s again in his best shape. So gonna be the toughest match what you can imagine.”

“It’s a joke how tough it is to win a slam. Because obviously now I beat Novak. On Friday is Nadal. In the finals there is another top star. That’s why it’s a slam is because it’s such a tough achievement.”

More key stats

2 – Thiem is bidding to become the second Austrian player – man or woman – in history to reach a Grand Slam final. 1995 Roland Garros champion Thomas Muster is the only Austrian player to reach the final at a major.

3 – Thiem is bidding to become just the third player ever – alongside Novak Djokovic and Gaston Gaudio – to defeat Nadal on clay on three or more occasions.

3 – of the four semi-finalists – Wawrinka, Thiem, Nadal – are yet to drop a set this fortnight. It’s the first time this has happened at a Grand Slam since the 1988 Australian Open, when Pat Cash, Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander achieved the feat. It’s the first time this has happened at Roland Garros in the Open Era.

3 – Nadal is bidding to become the third man in history to make 10 appearances in the final at one Grand Slam event after Bill Tilden (10 US Open finals) and Roger Federer (10 Wimbledon finals).

4 – This is the fourth consecutive tournament meeting between Thiem and Nadal.

5 – In five of the previous six meetings between Nadal and Thiem, the winner of their match has gone on to win the title.

7 – wins and 15 losses for Thiem against top-five opposition (6-6 on clay).

9 – wins and zero losses for Nadal in Roland Garros semi-finals.

21 – wins and three losses for Nadal in Grand Slam semi-finals. His last Slam semi-final loss came to Juan Martin del Potro in the 2009 US Open.

22 – Nadal has dropped just 22 games in reaching the semi-finals in Paris – the fewest games dropped into a Grand Slam semi-final in the Open Era where five best-of-five set matches have been played.

22 – tour-leading match wins on clay for both Thiem and Nadal.

22 – Nadal is looking to reach his 22nd Grand Slam final and take sole ownership of second place on the all-time list (behind Federer who has made 28) for most Grand Slam finals reached in the Open Era.

23 – years and 281 days, Thiem’s age. He is looking to become the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam final since Djokovic (23 years 253 days) and Murray (23 years 260 days) played each other in the final at the 2011 Australian Open. He would be the youngest man to reach the Roland Garros final since Nadal (22 years 5 days) in 2008.

29 – years and 105 days, the average age of the four men’s semi-finalists. It’s the second-highest at Roland Garros in the Open Era (behind 1968, when it was 33 years 224 days).

39 – games Thiem has dropped en route to the semis compared to 76 last year.

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Stats and quotes you need to know ahead of Murray-Wawrinka RG semi-final

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Familiar foes: Wawrinka and Murray.

Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka will square off for the 18th time when they take to Court Philippe Chatrier for their second consecutive Roland Garros semi-final against each other on Friday.

Murray, a runner-up in Paris in 2016, has dropped three sets so far this fortnight (to Kuznetsova in R1, Klizan in R2, Nishikori in QF), while Wawrinka is yet to lose a set.

They’re both looking to reach the second Roland Garros of their respective careers.

What the players have said

Andy Murray

“I came in, playing garbage.” (see video above)

“Obviously when we played last year, it was a similar situation coming in. I think Stan had played really well coming into the match. I had struggled in some of my matches during the event last year, but I played one of my best clay court matches that day to get the win. I need to do the same again tomorrow. He’s been playing very well. He’s not dropped a set here.

“Yeah, he’s obviously played extremely well the last few years at the French, and he’s confident. It’s going to be very tough. But I can learn some things from last year. I’m sure he will, as well, and will try to change some things. Should be an interesting match.”

Stan Wawrinka

“I don’t think we need extra motivation. When you arrive in the semi-final of a Grand Slam, the motivation is quite high. For me, for me doesn’t change that we played last year and that I lost against him. It’s a new match. It’s a new year. We can see everything is completely different from last year. The week before the tournaments we did some different results, so it’s going to be a great match. It’s always a great challenge to play the World No1 in a Grand Slam.”

“He defeated me last year. He was playing better. He was really playing well last year. I think it will be an interesting match. The conditions are a little different. I think he’s probably a bit less confident. He’s a bit more hesitant. Hopefully I can take advantage of that and find solutions to beat him.”

More key stats

1 – Murray has won just one of his last eight meetings with top-five opposition at the Grand Slams.

1 – win and four losses for Murray against top-five opposition at Roland Garros. That one loss was against Wawrinka in last year’s semis.

2 – Murray is facing a top-five player this season for just the second time. His only top-five match so far in 2017 was a straight-sets loss to Novak Djokovic in the Doha final.

3 – of the four semi-finalists – Wawrinka, Thiem, Nadal – are yet to drop a set this fortnight. It’s the first time this has happened at a Grand Slam since the 1988 Australian Open, when Pat Cash, Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander achieved the feat. It’s the first time this has happened at Roland Garros in the Open Era.

3 – wins and two losses for Murray against Wawrinka in Grand Slams.

3 – Wawrinka is one of just three Swiss players to ever reach a Grand Slam final – alongside Roger Federer and Martina Hingis.

3 – wins and five losses for Wawrinka in Grand Slam semi-finals.

4 – Wawrinka is bidding to defeat a world No1 for the fourth time in his career.

4 – Wawrinka has reached the semi-finals at four of the last five Grand Slams. He is through to his ninth Grand Slam semi-final overall.

7 – Murray is looking to become just the 7th man in the Open Era to reach the finals at all four Grand Slam events on multiple occasions.

10 – Wawrinka is bidding to record his 10th straight win and record a new career-best Tour-level winning streak on clay. His current nine-match winning streak includes a title run in Geneva in the week leading up to the French Open.

12 – Murray is bidding to reach his 12th Grand Slam final.

29 – years and 105 days, the average age of the four men’s semi-finalists. It’s the second-highest at Roland Garros in the Open Era (behind 1968, when it was 33 years 224 days).

44 – years since someone as old as Wawrinka has reached the Roland Garros men’s final. At 32 years 75 days, Wawrinka could become the oldest French Open finalist since 33-year-old Niki Pilic finished runner-up here in 1973.

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Guga Kuerten predicts Rafael Nadal can win 15 Roland Garros titles

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Guga and Rafa.

Gustavo Kuerten marked the 20th anniversary of his first Roland Garros triumph on Thursday by backing Rafael Nadal to win 15 French Open titles.

Brazilian star Kuerten won his first Paris crown in 1997, going on to win again in 2000 and 2001.

Nadal is just two match wins away from capturing an unprecedented 10th French Open.

“Rafa could potentially win up to 15 times,” Kuerten said Thursday in praise of the 31-year-old. “Two years ago, nobody really thought he would ever win a Grand Slam tournament again, especially Roland Garros. Well, I think he’s back, and he’s a favourite, as he was a favourite during his best years. So it is very possible, and I think we need to thank him, because he has been a role model.

“He’s not only an excellent tennis player. He is a wonderful person. He is entirely dedicated to his discipline.”

Nadal will face Austria’s Dominic Thiem in Friday’s semi-final. If he gets through that he would come up against world No1 Andy Murray or 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final.

Kuerten said Roger Federer’s surprise run to the Australian Open title in January at the age of 35 for an 18th major proved that age is not a factor in the sport. He also says Nadal and Federer have pushed each other to be better and better over the years.

“I think the chase, it’s amazing, right? Like the cat and rat, they are one after another,” said Kuerten. “That’s my belief. It’s because of them both they are so good.

“I always ask where he stops his spaceship around, like Roger. It’s nice you see these guys playing together. I’m sure that one make the other been much better than they normally will do without these kind of competition.”

But the Brazilian remains in awe of  a potential 10th French Open crown for Nadal.

“Winning 10, it’s kind of – I can imagine that someone will win 22 Grand Slams or even 25, 26, 24 Grand Slams. But 10 of the same tournament? It’s more hard to understand for myself.

“At the same way, what’s make me more impressed, I don’t think right now that this is going to stop on 10. If he wins this year, you probably will guess that 11 is around the corner.”

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