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French Open 2013: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic on track in Paris

Barry Cowan Posted 3rd June 2013 view comments

Roger Federer's thrilling comeback win over Gilles Simon has set up the second week of the French Open perfectly.

It's true that we've had few genuine upsets so far but as someone who wants to see the best players competing in the latter stages, I don't mind that so much.

At two sets to one down, Federer looked very average and it appeared that he might not make it past the fourth round for the first time in 36 majors but from somewhere - and only he will know where - he produced a stirring response and showed why he's a 17-time Grand Slam champion.

Tommy Robredo celebrates his victory over Nicolas Almargo on day eight in Paris

Tommy Robredo celebrates his victory over Nicolas Almargo on day eight in Paris

So he remains on course to meet David Ferrer in the last four.

In terms of form, I think Ferrer could make the final; he is playing better than Federer - not just this week but over the claycourt season - but, of course, in 14 meetings the Spaniard has never beaten Federer.

What bearing will that have on the match if the two do meet? I'd say plenty and would have to back Federer because of the head-to-head record between the two, regardless of Ferrer's form.

Form

So often in sport we hear players criticised for their pursuit of financial gain, but guys like Haas and Tommy Robredo - who dropped to 471 in the world after undergoing leg surgery last year - know what it's like to hit rock bottom and give everything to work their way back up.

Barry Cowan
Quotes of the week

In the other half of the draw, everything is still pointing towards a Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic semi-final on Friday - although there are still a few guys left in the tournament who, on form and on their day, can play very hot.

Djokovic has been awesome so far, while Nadal has struggled in the early stages - but that's nothing new.

In recent years I've never expected him to produce his best tennis in the first week - but the deeper he goes into the tournament, the more his form picks up and I think this is the case once again.

It would be great to see Djokovic play Tommy Haas in the quarter-finals.

At 35 years of age, Haas is playing better than ever and his marathon victory over John Isner will live long in the memory.

After winning 10-8 in the fifth set and having had 13 match points it could be that Haas doesn't have enough left in the tank to beat Mikhail Youzhny - we'll just have to see - but it's a magnificent story nonetheless.

Appetite

So often in sport we hear players criticised for their pursuit of financial gain, but guys like Haas and Tommy Robredo - who dropped to 471 in the world after undergoing leg surgery last year - know what it's like to hit rock bottom and give everything to work their way back up.

They do it for the love of the sport and because, once you give in, you're a long time retired.

Robredo's appetite is as strong as ever, it would appear, if his third great escape of the tournament is anything to go by!

In beating Nicolas Almagro, he became the first player since 1927 to come back from two sets down in three consecutive Grand Slam matches after victories over Igor Sijsling and Gael Monfils.

I think it's brilliant to see players like Haas or Robredo enjoying the sport so much and simply taking each day as it comes; long may they continue.

Learning

In the women's draw, Serena Williams is rolling back the years; the outcome of her matches aren't in doubt, it appears - it's simply a matter of how long her opponents can stay on court for.

Serena has performed poorly at the French for a number of years - her only title coming way back in 2002 - so I'm sure she'll be doubly determined to finish off the job.

I was surprised at the start of the competition to see Laura Robson lose to Caroline Wozniacki by so wide a margin.

Such has been Laura's progress that we've come to expect her to raise her game in the big matches and be really competitive.

But every match that she plays is the next step on a steep learning curve and at least the most difficult part of her year is now out the way and now she can look forward to playing on a surface that she is very, very comfortable on.

I do think that she needs to get her coaching situation sorted, though; it would be hugely beneficial if she could find someone to replace Zeljko Krajan as soon as possible.

If it's not done now, though, I think it will be best to wait until after the grass-court season. Either way, I'm sure she'll produce some exciting tennis this summer.

Barry Cowan is raising money for The Motor Neurone Disease Association throughout the French Open with his Sky Bet Charity Bets. Find Barry's top daily and outright tips here.

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