Thursday at the 2014 French Open is women’s semi-finals day, with tournament favourite Maria Sharapova looking to book her place in Saturday’s final.
All of this is weather-permitting of course after the rain delayed Wednesday’s play for three hours, and when they did start Sveta Kuznetsova picked up an injury that rendered her unable to challenge Simona Halep effectively.
The Russian began the match well and certainly could have taken a set, but a thigh injury combined with an ongoing hip problem saw her fade and the chances of the 2-1 Halep recede badly.
In the other quarter-final yesterday Andrea Petkovic became one of the few WTA players to play Sara Errani the way she should be played, which is to bully the Italian’s feeble game and hit her off the court.
I didn’t think Petkovic had it in her and Errani complained of a lack of energy in what was a dreadful performance from her, but the German had a game plan and was actually able to stick to it.
We start at 14:00 UK time today, with a clash of two photogenic players that will doubtless please the WTA greatly.
Maria Sharapova 1.31 vs Eugenie Bouchard 3.45
A choke from Carla Suarez Navarro – not just once, but in the first and third sets of their quarter-final – means that new WTA golden girl Genie Bouchard is into her first French Open semi-final.
But she faces an opponent with a vastly superior mental game to that of the fragile Spaniard today and I’d be very surprised if Bouchard emerged victorious from this one.
Bouchard had to come from 2-5 down in set one and 1-4 down in set three to beat the choking CSN, but there will be no such favours from Maria, who’s looked almost manically intense this fortnight so far.
That said, the Russian hasn’t played her best tennis in this tournament yet and scratchy showings against Garbine Muguruza and Sam Stosur were just about enough, but she had to dig deep both times.
Bouchard has been able to take advantage of a good draw and the odd profligate opponent to get this far, but she has played the best tennis that I’ve seen from her on red clay during this fortnight.
That wouldn’t be too difficult though, as prior to the Nurnberg event that she won the week before Paris the Canadian looked very ill at ease on this European red clay and I must admit I did not fancy her chances of making the second week here.
On the plus side for Bouchard is her temperament, which is better than many on the WTA Tour and she has the potential to give Maria a match today in her second major semi-final of the season, which is a great effort from Genie.
It should be a little closer than the comfortable 2-0 that Sharapova achieved over Bouchard here 12 months ago and the thrashing that Maria gave her in Miami just prior to that, but I don’t see too much in Bouchard’s game that will overly concern the tournament favourite.
Genie has been very attacking here, but she’s yet to face anyone with equal or greater power than herself and unless Maria has a shocker on serve or starts like she did against Muguruza I can only see one winner here.
I suspect we’ve seen the worst of Sharapova and her best is yet to come, with the likelihood being that it may well come today.
The 2-0 win would be a great relief for Sharapova and that’s what I expect to see today – and that’s a price of 1.86.
The second semi-final looks like it will go the way of Halep, who should be too solid all round for Petkovic, but it is a first major semi-final for the Romanian and I still think she has the potential to choke at some point this fortnight.
They last met on a clay court in the Nurnberg final just over a year ago, with Halep a 6-3, 6-3 winner, but both players will be nervous today and the 1.22 about Simona looks awfully short.
In this situation, this match could be anything, and if Petkovic can carry the confidence over from the Errani match the 3.30 about her winning set one might be a better choice.
Back Sharapova to beat Bouchard 2-0 at 1.86