It was one from two for our bets on men’s semi-finals day at Roland Garros 2012. David Ferrer was blown away by Rafa Nadal, but the Spanish number two missed an incredible chance to go 3-1 up with a serve to come in the opening set.
Ferrer missed a sitter that would surely have made our first set overs bet a distinct likelihood, but once he’d missed it he barely won a point for the rest of the set and the match was lost in that moment.
At least the Novak Djokovic minus 1.5 sets bets was an easy winner, as the Serbian took full advantage of an error-strewn display from Roger Federer to ease into the final.
Saturday in Paris brings us the women’s final between red-hot favourite Maria Sharapova and a rank outsider at the start of the tournament, Sara Errani.
Sharapova stands on the brink of history, as she aims to complete a career Grand Slam on a surface on which she used to be far from comfortable. The Russian once famously likened herself to ‘a cow on ice’ on clay, but she’s blitzed through this year’s red dirt swing, winning 17 matches and losing just one (to Serena Williams), and picking up two titles.
This will be the first ever meeting between Errani and Sharapova and it should be an interesting clash of styles – Sharapova’s power versus the guile of Errani. The Italian has had an incredible few months, having never beaten a top 10 ranked player before this fortnight. She should be in the top 10 herself after this match.
She also has two clay court titles in this season (Barcelona and Budapest) but when she came up against top 10 stars Sam Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska she was beaten in straight sets.
There’s clearly been a huge improvement in Errani’s game this year, which she puts down to a new, longer racquet that enables her to gain more power on the forehand side. She comes into this match buzzing from winning the doubles title yesterday, but she’s going to have to serve off the charts today to have any chance of denying Maria the career Slam she craves.
Errani’s second serve was absolutely hammered by Stosur in the semi-finals here; Errani won just two points on it in three sets. And that came against a player that badly misfired for most of the match: Stosur handed the win on a plate to Errani with a string of unforced errors and horrible shanks.
When Stosur did get it right in the second set, she trounced Errani 6-1. My feeling is that if Sharapova is on form today she should win this by a decent margin.
Women’s Grand Slam finals recently have been one-sided affairs, with the winner of the first set winning 22 of the last 23 majors. 21 of those have ended in straight sets.
The concern for Sharapova backers is that she’s lost her last two Slam finals in straight sets and hasn’t won one since 2008, so the nerves will undoubtedly be there, but if she comes out and imposes her powerful game upon Errani from the start there should only be one winner today.
The bet that I’ll be taking on today is Sharapova to win with a handicap of minus 10.5 points, which looks great value at 1.87
Back Sharapova -10.5 points to beat Errani at 1.87