TODAY'S MEN'S SEMIFINALS
(world rankings in parentheses)
Roger Federer (2), Switzerland vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (5), Argentina
As he plays this onrushing, 20-year-old ball-mauler, Federer knows that if he trips up in these last two matches, the lost opportunity might lurk in his cranium for the duration of his existence, occasionally disrupting sleep, popping up now and then to inject anguish and ruin otherwise good days. There's no pressure or anything.
Fernando Gonzalez (12), Chile vs. Robin Soderling (25), Sweden
With Gonzalez's veteran might and Soderling's sudden magnificence, the weird thing about this semifinal is that it's enticing. If somebody tries to tell you they predicted it before this tournament, you should definitely ignore their Facebook friend request.
A FRENCH MORSEL
Juan Martin Del Potro said, "If I can't win this tournament, I want to see next Sunday Roger with the trophy." Rafael Nadal said, "If one guy deserves it, that's him." Gael Monfils said to Federer as they shook hands after their quarterfinal, "I hope that this time you win this tournament." Serena Williams said, "I like Del Potro's game, because he's young and he's tall and he's really nice to me. And Roger is really nice to me too. Obviously, I love Roger." It seems this Paris weekend might have some sort of theme.
THE ENDANGERED AMERICAN MALES
With our country clay-averse possibly because clay requires patience and we don't have any, the gritty Camarillo-reared No. 2-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, fought but fell in a men's doubles semifinal on Thursday, converting three of 11 break-point chances in a 0-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 loss to Wesley Moodie of South Africa and Dick Norman of Belgium. With nine singles men and eight singles women and the Bryan doubles team and the Williams doubles team all gone, could there be any solace? Yeah! Mixed doubles! In a mixed-doubles American festival, Bob Bryan and naturalized citizen Liezel Huber edged Brazil's Marcelo Melo and Monterey Park native Vania King, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 1-0 (7), as the United States proved its men can handle difficulty as long as they have the help of a woman.
STAT OF THE DAY
14: number of finalist slots claimed by five women from Russia out of the 42 available in the last 21 Grand Slams.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Svetlana Kuznetsova, former St. Petersburg girl, on getting drubbed at age 12 by her French Open final opponent, former Moscow girl Dinara Safina, then asking Safina in recent years what she remembered: "She says, 'Yeah, I remember you coming with the rock shirt -- because I was big fan of a rock band -- and with big bottle of Coke to the match.' She tells me back then this is what she remembers."
-- Chuck Culpepper