Why yes, it IS time for the French Open!

Maria, you're dating Sasha Vujacic. Don't get so excited about the Rafa pics.

We’ve been very team-sport oriented around here lately (though not without reason), so I thought I’d take a moment to skip across the Atlantic and check in on the French Open, which begins semifinal play on Friday (NBC just informed me that they will have live coverage Friday morning, for those of you who have summer work schedules.)

Despite the fact that no one has been paying attention, some interesting storylines are developing at Roland Garros. Chaos has broken out in the women’s draw, where the top seeds remaining are last year’s champ Francesca Schiavione (the 5 seed), and a rejuvenated Maria Sharapova (the 7 seed). The men’s draw has been by-the-numbers, with the top four seeds winding up in the semifinals.  This does not, however, mean these matchups are lacking in excitement — or pictures.

Semifinal 1: Novak Djokavic vs. Roger Federer

In what may be the quietest winning run in sports history, Novak Djokavic has compiled a perfect 42-0 record so far in the 2011 season.  A victory in the semifinal would tie John McEnroe’s record start of 43-0.  (He’d be there already except that his quarterfinal opponent forfeited due to injury before their match, which doesn’t count as an official win.) Federer, meanwhile, is trying to prove that his best days are not entirely behind him.

Semifinal 2: Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray

As the five time winner (and with only 1 loss in his career at the French Open), Nadal is clearly the favorite. Andy Murray continues to inch ever closer to a Grand Slam victory (he was the Australian Open runner-up earlier this year), but is playing on an injured ankle.  And since the majority of tennis fans are probably hoping for a Nadal-Federer or Nadal-Djokovic final, a Murray win would be the closest thing to a shocking upset the men’s draw could produce this year. So there’s that.

And finally, please enjoy this fantastic visual representation of “the agony of defeat” as embodied by Gael Monfils during his quarterfinal loss to Federer.

Happy Thursday!

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