Roger Federer
Roger Federer was relieved to come from two sets down to defeat Juan Martin Del Potro in the last eight, but knows he can't afford to find himself in a similar hole against Novak Djokovic. Reuters

Where to watch: The men's semifinals at Roland Garros begin at 7 a.m. ET, with coverage on the Tennis Channel. The action switches to NBC at 11 a.m., with a live stream available on

Preview: In a tournament of few upsets, the French Open has produced a semi-final lineup featuring arguably the world's four best clay court players. The big three are now a habitual presence at the climax of a major and they are joined in Paris this time around by David Ferrer. Though only seeded six, the Spaniard has earned his place as the best of the rest on clay and it was no surprise when he came out on top against fourth seed Andy Murray in the last eight.

It is just unfortunate for Ferrer that he happens to compete in the same era as his countryman Rafael Nadal. The relentless Ferrer may have come out on top at both the Australian and U.S. Open in the past, but on the clay it has been almost total domination for Nadal. The six-time champion at Roland Garros has beaten his older compatriot the last 11 times that pair have locked horns on the terre batue, including twice this season.

Ferrer will take confidence from having dropped just one set -- to Murray -- in reaching this stage and, whatever anyone else thinks of his chances, he won't stop running in pursuit of a first grand slam final.

But Ferrer just doesn't have the weapons to penetrate Nadal's phenomenal defenses on a clay court. As Robin Soderling showed when becoming the only man to yet defeat Nadal at Roland Garros, the way to hurt him is through a big serve and monstrous ground strokes, something that, for all his grit, Ferrer just can't offer.

At the same time, Nadal's trademark forehand is particularly destructive bouncing up high on the 5-foor-9 Ferrer. It would be a surprise if Nadal does not make it to Sunday's final with his record of not having lost a set still intact.

The day's second encounter promises to be a much tighter affair. In a repeat of last year's semifinal, Roger Federer faces off with Novak Djokovic. Though it was the Swiss who came out on top in four sets on that occasion, it is Djokovic who starts the favorite to reach his first final at Roland Garros.

The Serb has won both their meetings since their clash in Paris, including last month on the clay in Rome.

In the early stages in Paris, it was World No. 1, Djokovic, who progressed with greater comfort. Both players will have been grateful for having two days rest after coming from behind to win five-set epics in the quarter-finals, but it is surely the elder of the two, Federer, who should benefit most. Djokovic's machine-like fitness having already been demonstrated to awe-inspiring effect with back-to-back marathon matches in Australia this year.

The Serbian will look to use his incredible speed to engage Federer in long rallies and wear down the 16-time grand slam champion. While, for his part, Federer will need to have an exemplary serving day and limit the errors on his forehand, the match's most potent weapon.

It could well be another five-setter, but Djokovic looks the man in better form to reach Sunday's final.