Andy Schooler assesses the French Open women’s semi-finals and takes a look at the latest situation in the outright market.
Pavlyuchenkova to win 2-0
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Tamara Zidansek
Zidansek has won final sets 8-6 and 9-7, as well as losing a set 6-0 en route to her maiden Grand Slam semi-final – indeed none of the semi-finalists has ever played at this stage of a Grand Slam before.
With results like that, it may feel to some as if her name is written on the trophy but she’s the outsider here for a reason. The Slovenian is ranked at 85 in the world and has never won a WTA title.
Pavlyuchenkova may not have played a Grand Slam semi-final before but she’s got plenty of other big-match experience – Tuesday was her sixth quarter-final at this level, while she’s won 12 WTA titles in a long career.
Amongst a lot of matches where there have been some huge ups and downs from players, the Russian’s level has been fairly consistent.
The pair have never met before but a combination of those two factors – plus greater weight of shot – make Pavlyuchenkova a worthy favourite here.
13/10 about the higher-ranked payer winning in straight sets looks the way to go.
Sakkari to win 2-1
Barbora Krejcikova v Maria Sakkari
Sakkari produced a stunning result by defeating defending champion Iga Swiatek on Wednesday but now instead of being the big underdog, she is a firm favourite.
What effect that will have on a maiden Grand Slam semi-finalist remains to be seen but we’ve certainly seen players fold in such situations before.
As is the case in the first semi, Sakkari brings the greater experience to this encounter and she’s the higher-ranked player. In a tournament of surprises, her presence here isn’t the shock some are making it out to be – there have been of decent signs and indeed she was put up in my ante-post preview of the claycourt season at the start of April.
Her first serve has been a major weapon, delivering more than 80% of points in four of her five matches so far and she should be brimming with confidence after that Swiatek match.
Krejcikova was let off the hook by Coco Gauff in her quarter-final – the American failed to covert five set points in the opener.
The Czech looked very nervous at times in that one which doesn’t bode particularly well ahead of this one.
Her forehand looked very suspect for periods but Gauff didn’t capitalise, too often going to the backhand – perhaps some tactical naivety from the 17-year-old.
I’d expect a better effort from Sakkari, even if that mental aspect is a shadow creeping in from the side.
Krejcikova brings a 2-0 head-to-head to the table here having beaten Sakkari in Dubai earlier this season. She also beat her on clay seven years ago which I find less relevant.
The head says Sakkari should win but I’m not sure there’s any great value in her price.
With 2-0 at just 6/5, a 2-1 win for the Greek is arguably the best bet at 3/1.
Pavlyuchenkova to win the title
French Open outright
It’s a little surprising to see both players in the second semi-final in the top-two of the outright betting at this stage.
That’s down to the Pavlyuchenkova-Zidansek match being priced up closer but it also creates some possible value.
While Sakkari, the highest-ranked player remaining in the draw, is rightly favourite, she looks pretty short at 11/10 given the mental hurdles which lie ahead.
Pavlyuchenkova’s price of 10/3 is the one which looks the best to me at this stage.
She’s been playing consistent tennis and seems mentally pretty solid, having spoken about how tennis is not her be all and end all. It may seem trivial but I feel that sort of approach may help in this scenario where no-one has experience of what’s to come.