In a tournament that started just over a week ago with 128 men and 128 women, all vying to become the 2015 champion of Roland Garros, all but eight have been eliminated in each draw. Both groups of quarterfinalists are emblematic of the respective tours themselves.
On the men’s side, seven of the top eight seeds reached the quarterfinals–another example of how rock-solid the top 10 players or so are, led by the Big Four (Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray), as well as a lack of depth in the field that proves time and time again to be incapable of crashing the party. Among the remaining men, all except Murray racked up at least three straight set wins en route to the quarters, while only David Ferrer has been forced to a deciding fifth set.
As for the women, their bracket quickly turned to utter chaos as Simona Halep, the No. 3 seed and last year’s runner-up in Paris, was bounced in the second round. She was quickly followed by No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki, who had been enjoying a surprisingly successful clay season. Eugenie Bouchard beat them to the punch, continuing her miserable 2015 campaign by bowing out in round one to a tough opponent, Kristina Mladenovic. 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova (often frustrating, but she’s always a threat at the French) and second tier contenders Carla Suarez-Navarro and Andrea Petkovic were all plucked by respected veterans.
Best-of-three matches lend themselves to more upsets than best-of-five, but this was another reminder that the WTA has a more evenly distributed crop of talent. Not even defending champion Maria Sharapova was immune, as she fell to No. 13 seed Lucie Safarova, a dangerous player who seems to be breaking through after often struggling with nerves in big matches.
One thing the draws have in common is that the path is wide open for two former champions to get back to the final. Federer won in 2009 after a compromised Nadal experienced his only best-of-five defeat on clay to date before they could meet for a fourth consecutive final. Federer narrowly overcame the immense pressure on his shoulders to capitalize on Nadal’s absence and finally claim the title. With the other members of the Big Four left to slug it out on the other side of the draw, Federer has his best and possibly final shot to compete for La Coupe de Mousquetaires.
His counterpart, Ana Ivanovic, won in Paris in 2008, claiming the title a year after coming up short there in her first Grand Slam final. She hasn’t even made another Grand Slam semifinal since winning her only major title, but with Sharapova (the Nadal to her Federer having taken four of their five recent meetings on clay) out of the picture, Ivanovic is the only top-12 seed remaining other than Serena Williams, and they wouldn’t meet until the final.
Before either can think about winning a second trophy on Sunday though, they must first get to the semis. How will they fare? Let’s preview their matchups.