Wednesday, 6 June 2012

French Open: Semi-Final Predictions for Day 12

Sam Stosur v Sara Errani
The first womens semi-final will see two players who both love the clay and use this surface to their ultimate advantage.  Sam Stosur has had a remarkably consistent tournament so far having yet to drop a set in six matches.  After Victoria Azarenka was knocked out of her section, she could easily have let the pressure get to her but she has shown a great deal of composure in dispatching Sloane Stephens in the 4th round and Dominika Cibulkova in the quarter-finals.  Cibulkova was a dangerous opponent having taken out Azarenka, but in truth it was a bad match-up for the diminutive Slovak who struggled to deal with Stosur's heavy kick serve (a bad prediction on my part to suggest Cibulkova would win that!)

Sara Errani continued her sparking tournament with a first ever top 10 win over a weary looking Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals.  In fact, it was a first win in 29 attempts against top 10-ers and she will now compete in a Grand Slam singles semi-final for the first time in her career.  Stosur and Errani last squared off in Rome where they met in the second round; Stosur won that match in straight sets, 6-3 7-5, and it was her fifth straight victory over the Italian.  I have to give the edge to Stosur who has the far greater experience at this stage of a Grand Slam and the superior game too, but that is to take nothing away from Errani who has played some superb tennis this year at Roland Garros.
Prediction - Stosur to beat Errani in 2 sets
Highlights from Stosur's quarter-final win over Cibulkova

Maria Sharapova v Petra Kvitova
There have been a number of significant upsets this week in the womens draw but in the second semi-final, the top two seeds have progressed from the bottom half in a match that has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster encounter.  Maria Sharapova was clinical in defeating Kaia Kanepi, 6-2 6-3 to set up a semi-final with the number 4 seed, Petra Kvitova.  The Czech player came through a tough quarter-final with Yaroslava Shvedova.  The qualifier took out Li Na in the 4th round and looked to be heading for another famous victory as she won the first set and then led 4-2 in the decider before Kvitova came alive to win the final four games.

The womens game has been longing for a rivalry and there is definitely potential in the one between Sharapova and Kvitova.  Their last two matches featured some great tennis as Sharapova edged an excellent Australian Open semi-final and a tight two setter in Stuttgart.  Sharapova will go into the match as the clear favourite, but Kvitova loves to be the underdog, just as she showed in the Wimbledon final where she rose to the forefront to claim her first Grand Slam title.  The womens tournament has petered out and needs a classic match to rival the excitement on the mens side of the draw... this could be that match.
Prediction - Sharapova to beat Kvitova in 3 sets

Highlights from Sharapova's three hour plus, fourth round match against Klara Zakopalova

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