Following two intense and somewhat dramatic
semi-finals in Paris
on Thursday afternoon, we now know that current world no.2; Maria Sharapova
will face 25-year-old Italian, Sara Errani in Saturday's final.
We picked Maria Sharapova as our tip for
victory at the start of the fortnight, and the 25-year-old Russian, often prone
to crumble under pressure, has hardly put a foot wrong since.
She has not won a Grand Slam event since
triumphing at the Australian Open back in 2008 but recent appearances in the
finals of Wimbledon (2011) and Australia (2012) have gone some way to proving
that Sharapova is on the way back to the top.
Her run so for at Roland Garros has been
immense and the ease with which she swept aside her Wimbledon 2011 conqueror,
Petra Kvitova, suggested that it's going to be tough to stop the Sharapova steamroller on Saturday afternoon.
Having lost just one set, to Zakapolova, on
route to the final and arriving in Paris on the
back of a tournament win in Rome,
it's fair to say that Sharapova is probably playing the best, and most
confident tennis of her career. In reaching the final, the Russian is already
confirmed to be back at world No.1 next Monday morning and that will be another
booster ahead of Saturday's final.
Whilst Sharapova's run to the final did not
see her take on one of the top ranked players until the semi-final stage, it
has been an altogether different journey for the Italian 25-year-old, Sara
After losing 6-1 in the opening set of her
third round encounter with Ana Ivanovic, you could have had any odds you liked
on her reaching the final of this event. But following a stunning comeback in
that match and subsequent victories of Kuznetsova, Kerber and Stosur, Sara
Errani is on the brink of completing one of the most astonishing and unlikely
victories in Grand Slam history.
Currently ranked at world no.10, Errani is
certainly no novice, and she has been enjoying a successful 2012 so far having
won three titles and over $1.3 million in prize money. However, having never
reached even the semi finals of a Slam, there weren't many pundits talking
about the Italian ahead of this event.
When she lost the opening two games of her
semi-final with Sam Stosur, having thrown in one of the worst service games
ever seen in a Grand Slam semi final, Errani could have been forgiven for going
into her shell and giving up on the opening set, as so many do in big match situations.
Again, after losing the second set 6-1 and seeing Stosur level at 3-3 in the
final set, having led 3-0, everyone in the stadium prepared for the inevitable
Stosur charge. It didn't come. Errani wouldn't allow it. The calmness and
ruthlessness she showed when serving for the match suggests Maria Sharapova
will need to be at her very best again on Saturday if she's going to win this
Perhaps surprisingly for two players ranked
in the world's top 10, these two have never met before. Sharapova certainly has
the more aggressive game but has in recent times been prone to mental weakness;
something we've seen in both Grand Slam finals she's played in the last 12
Errani's top spin serve can cause Sharapova
problems and her consistent hitting will keep her in the rallies. The real
worry for Errani is whether she has the power to overcome a Sharapova on top of
Both players will come into this match full
of nerves but I'd expect both to settle quickly and the confidence they have
gained in recent weeks should come through within a couple of games.
If this were any other stage in the
tournament you'd expect to see Sharapova come through comfortably and probably
without the loss of a set.
Given that we're in the final and Sharapova
does have some demons to rid, Errani's consistent hitting could cause a
I feel the confidence gleaned from becoming
world no.1 and the knowledge of just how well she's been playing here in Paris,
will give Sharapova the boost she needs and I'd expect her to come through in
Maria Sharapova to win
Sharapova to win 2-0
First set correct score - Sharapova at tennis odds of 6-1