2013 Women’s French Open Tennis Semifinals
Thursday, June 6, 2013, 9:00 am Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Roland Garros – Paris France
Playing Surface: Red Clay
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Four of the top five ranked players in Women’s tennis made it to the semifinals of the 2013 French Open. Defending Champion and #2 seed Maria Sharapova will take on #3 seeded Victoria Azarenka in the first semifinal and #1 Serena Williams will take on #5 seeded Sara Errani in the second. Williams, Sharapova, and Azarenka have combined to win the last 5 majors. Errani is looking to break through for her first major. Here is a look at both match-ups with odds courtesy of Bookmaker.
#2 Maria Sharapova (-130) vs #3 Victoria Azarenka (even)
The 26 year old Sharapova, from Russia is 35-4 this season with titles at Stuttgart and Indian Wells. She lost to Serena Williams in the finals at Miami and Madrid. Azarenka, 23 from Belarus, is 27-2 this season with titles at the Australian Open and Doha. Azarenka lost to Willaims in the finals at Rome. Azarenka has battled nagging injuries all season including an ankle injury that has affected her since February.
Azarenka has 2 Australian Open titles but had never made it past the quarters at the French before this year. Sharapova won the French last year to complete the career grand slam with one of each.
Sharapova beat Su-Wei Hsieh in the first round, Eugenie Bouchard in the second, Jie Zheng in the third, #17 Sloane Stephens in the fourth, and #18 Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. Jankovic is the only one to take a set off of Sharapova so far, and Sharapova didn’t allow more than 5 games to any other opponent.
Sharapova has 10 aces and 15 double faults so far at Roland Garros. Sharapova is serving at 74% on first serves and 55.4% on second serves. She has 24 service breaks so far.
Azarenka beat Elena Vesnina in the first round, Annika Beck in the second, #31 Alize Cornet in the third, former champion Francesca Schiavone in the fourth, and #12 Maria Kirilenko in the quarterfinals, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2. Cornet took a set off Azarenka but no one else other than Kirilenko won more than 4 games in any set.
Azarenka has 6 aces and 20 double faults. Azarenka is 67% on first serves and 37% on second serves. Azarenka has 31 service breaks so far.
Azarenka leads the series against Sharapova 7-5. They have never met in the French Open before and have yet to play each other in 2013. Azarenka beat Sharapova in the 2012 Australian Open final and in the 2012 US Open semifinals. Sharapova won both match-ups on clay in straight sets, including in the final at Stuttgart last season.
Azarenka has improved a lot on clay this season but I am not sure she is quite at Sharapova’s level. If this was on hard or perhaps even grass, Azarenka would have a clear advantage but i like Sharapova on clay in a tough 3 setter.
#1 Serena Williams (-1500) vs #5 Sara Errani (+800)
The 31 year old Williams is playing some of the best tennis of her brilliant career. She is 41-2 this season with wins at Brisbane, Charleston, Miami, Madrid and Rome (the latter two on clay). She became the oldest player ever to reach #1 in the world in February. She was also the runner up at Doha. Williams has won 28 straight matches.
Errani, 26 from Italy, is 36-13 this season with a title at Acapulco. She also has runner-ups at Paris and Dubai. Errani and her partner Roberta Vinci are the #1 doubles team in world. Errani moved into the top 5 rankings as a singles player for the first time earlier this month. Errani lost in the finals at the French Open last year to Sharapova.
Williams has 15 major titles, but only one at Roland Garros in 2002. She hasn’t made it past the quarters here since then until this year, including an embarrassing first round loss last year. Williams lost in the quarters of the Australian Open this year, after severely spraining her ankle in the first round.
Williams beat Anna Tatishvilli in the first round, Caroline Garcia in the second, #26 Sorana Cirstea in the third, #15 Vinci in the fourth round, and 2009 champ Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarters, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. In the third set against Kuznetsova, Williams trailed 2-0 before winning 5 straight games to take control of the match. No one else won more than 3 games in any set against Serena.
Williams has 26 aces and 10 double faults. Williams has 24 service breaks so far at the French. Williams is serving at 78% on first serves and 64% on second serves.
Errani beat Arantxa Rus in the first round, Yulia Putintseva in the second round, #32 Sabine Lisicki in the third, #20 Carla Suarez-Navarro in the fourth, and #4 Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals 6-4, 7-6 (8-6). Errani dropped a set to Suarez-Navarro and went to a tiebreaker against Radwanska. No one else won more than 4 games against Errani.
Errani has one ace and one double fault so far at Roland Garros. She has 31 service breaks. Errani is serving at 63% on first serves and 41% on second serves.
Williams is 5-0 all time against Errani, including 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals at Madrid last month on clay. Williams also beat her 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals of the US Open last year.
Errani is improving and I picked her to win before the tournament started. However, Serena Williams seems to be on a mission to win at least one more French Open before her career ends in possibly the next few years. It is much like 37 year old Tim Duncan trying to win his fifth title with the San Antonio Spurs and playing some of the best basketball in his career. The only question is whether Errani even takes a set off Serena in the semifinals. I say no, but I thinks both sets could go to a tiebreaker or be 6-4 or 7-5.
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