What’s Happening Thursday
The women’s semifinal doubleheader is the day’s real highlight, with ESPN2′s coverage running from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Earlier, Tennis Channel will have live coverage of the men doubles semifinals beginning at 5 a.m. The network will also re-air the women’s semis at 6:30 p.m. (Clip and save the complete TV schedule.)
The two semifinals are:
• No. 6 Li Na vs. No. 7 Maria Sharapova (Court Philippe Chatrier, 8 a.m. ET)
• No. 11 Marion Bartoli vs. No. 5 Francesca Schiavone (Court Philippe Chatrier, second match)
The complete order of play for Day 12 can be found here.
What Happened Wednesday
• Rafa roars past Soderling to set up Murray meeting. Rafael Nadal coasted to a 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(3) victory over Robin Soderling. Both players struggled in the windy conditions; Soderling (41 unforced errors) just struggled a lot more than Nadal (13), who seemed emboldened by the victory after Monday’s self-flagellatory press conference. “I said two days ago I am not playing good enough to win Roland Garros. We will see in two days. That’s what I said,” Nadal mused. “And today I played better. Much better, in my opinion.” That’s a scary thought for semifinal opponent Andy Murray, who had little trouble with unseeded Juan Ignacio Chela in the day’s other men’s match.
• Sharapova, Li book semifinal date. Maria Sharpova whipped Andrea Petkovic, advancing to her first Grand Slam semifinal in more than three years. She’ll face Li Na, the Australian Open runner-up who’s peaking at Roland Garros after a horrific post-Melbourne slump. Li booked her place in the semis Wednesday with a straight-sets victory over fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka.
The New Yorker on Tuesday’s ball boy blunder … Maria Sharapova shows there’s life after the Williams sisters … New York Times story on the best seat in the house at Roland Garros … The French Open is barely moving the needle Down Under … Which tennis legend did Novak Djokovic call Wednesday for an impromptu hitting session? … Rafael Nadal proves he’s just like anybody else.
Photo of the Day
Maria Sharapova returns to Andrea Petkovic on Court Suzanne Lenglen (from SI.com’s Best Shots from Day 11 at the French Open).
32 … Number of games conceded by Maria Sharapova en route to the semifinals, the fewest of the four remaining women in the draw. She’s also been on court the shortest amount of time (7 hours, 54 minutes).
6 … Number of Frenchwomen to reach the French Open final since the tournament went international in 1925. Bartoli can become the seventh with a victory on Thursday.
12 … Number of times in the Open era (since 1968) that the top four seeded men reached the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament.
A China Central Television feature on Li Na and her racket stringer.
They Said It
“The best player in the world today against the best player in history, so it’s difficult to say.”
–Rafael Nadal, killing ‘em with kindness with asked to predict the winner of Friday’s semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer