The final of the 2013 French Open Ladies Singles takes place on Saturday at 2pm UK time between the top two seeds in the draw. The championship match certainly has a familiar feel about it; this will be the fourth time that Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have met in a final or semi-final this season.
Williams was in no mood to mess around on Thursday, landing an easy winning wager for this column by crushing Sara Errani for the loss of just a single game. My under 81.5 total minutes best bet was never in any kind of danger in a match that actually lasted little over 45.
Errani was, as expected, hopelessly overmatched and the same could be said about Sharapova, although not to the same extent as the limited Italian. It’s very tough to make a case for the Russian, who has lost 12 straight matches to Williams stretching all the way back to 2005. All four matches this season have gone the way of the American pretty comfortably.
Their last meeting was on the clay of Madrid, in quicker conditions and at altitude. With the weather expected to be cloudy in Paris on Saturday it will play slower than that, but I’m not sure it makes a huge difference to either of these players’ games.
We have two players here who love to dominate their opponents and bully them with huge hitting, and Williams just does it better. Sharapova can’t have any confidence coming into this and her only advantage is that usually she has nothing to lose against Serena – but this time her title is at stake.
Sharapova’s clay game has improved out of sight from the old days, but it had to really. She’s still not the best mover on the surface, plus she’s only taken one set from Serena in the last 17 they’ve played against each other.
It's worth noting that Williams hasn’t won this title for over ten years and we saw in her match with Sveta Kuznetsova that she can go into anxiety mode, which is a slight worry for handicap backers. But with all those comfortable wins over Sharapova under her belt on all surfaces it’s hard to see her having the same kind of anxiety in this match.
I’ll take Williams to win minus 5.5 on the handicap - a bet that would have come in on six of their last seven meetings on all surfaces.
Best bet: Back Williams –5.5 games to beat Sharapova at 1.75