2014 Women’s French Open Championship: #4 Simona Halep vs #7 Maria Sharapova

2014 French Open Tennis Championship
Women’s Final

#4 Simona Halep (+145) vs #7 Maria Sharapova (-165)
Odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Roland Garros – Paris, France
Playing Surface: Red Clay
Saturday, June 7, 2014 9:00 am Eastern, TV: NBC

Maria Sharapova is a slight favorite against Simona Halep in the French Open Final Saturday at Roland Garros.
Maria Sharapova is a slight favorite against Simona Halep in the French Open Final Saturday at Roland Garros.

After a wild first week that saw the top three seeds in the Women’s draw at the French Open gone before the fourth round, things settled down. The final matches the #4 seed Simona Halep against #7 Maria Sharapova Saturday morning.

Halep is 22 from Romania. She advanced to the quarters at the Australian Open this year for the first time at a major. She had never made it past the second round in four previous appearances at Roland Garros before this year. Halep is 25-7 this season with a title at Doha. She lost in the final to Sharapova at Madrid. Halep was outside the top 50 in the world as late as December 2012. She won six titles in 2013 to rocket up the rankings to her current #3 in the World.

Halep is playing in her first grand slam finals. She beat Alisa Kleybanova in the first round, Heather Watson in the second round, Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor in the third, #15 Sloane Stephens in the fourth round, #27 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarters and #28 Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals 6-2, 7-6 (7-4). Halep has not dropped a set so far in the tournament, and other than the tiebreaker against Petkovic no one has won more than 4 games in any set against her.

Against Petkovic Halep had 3 aces and 2 double faults. Petkovic had 0 aces and 3 double faults. Halep won 75%  of her first serve points and 56% on second serves. Petkovic was at 62% and 36% respectively. Halep won all 7 of her points at the net and Petkovic was 6 for 10. Halep converted 3 of 5 break points, and Petkovic converted her only break point chance. Halep had 25 winners and 20 unforced errors. Petkovic had 14 winners and 36 unforced errors.

Sharapova is 27 from Russia. She missed last few months of 2013 including the US Open with a shoulder injury. Sharapova has the career grand slam with one of each. She won here in 2012 and lost to Serena Williams in the finals in 2013. She lost in the 4th round at the Australian Open this year. Sharapova is 30-6 this season with titles at Stuttgart and Madrid, both on clay.

Sharapova was in the same section of the draw as Serena Williams and the two were on pace to meet in the quarters. However, Williams was upset in the second round. Sharapova beat Ksenia Pervak in the first round, Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round, Paula Ormaechea in the third, #19 Samantha Stosur in the fourth, and Garbine Muguruza in the quarters. Muguruza upset Serena in the second round. Sharapova beat #18 Eugenie Bouchard 6-4,7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals to advance to the French Open Final for the third straight year. Sharapova dropped a set in her last 3 matches

Against Bouchard, Sharapova had 4 aces and 9 double faults. Bouchard had 1 and 3 respectively. Sharapova was 75% on first serves and 41% on second serves, while Bouchard was 59% and 41% respectively. Sharapova won 3 of 5 net points, and Bouchard was 6 for 8. Sharapova only converted 6 of 20 break points and Bouchard was 4 for 9. Sharapova had 33 winners and 35 unforced errors and Bouchard had 29 and 48.

Sharapova has won all three matches against Halep. Sharapova beat Halep in the final at Madrid on clay earlier this year despite dropping the first set 1-6. Sharapova won the next two sets 6-2 and 6-3. The other two meetings came in 2012 in the early rounds of hard court tournaments.

Sharapova has survived the last three rounds despite not playing her best tennis. She will have to serve much better against the talented Halep than she did against Bouchard. Halep has cruised and hasn’t been tested except for the second set tiebreaker against Petkovic. Sharapova is a slight favorite, but I think Halep is the pick to win her first major title in three sets.

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