The WTA’s Big Three, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are through to the semi-finals of the French Open and are joined by Italy’s Sara Errani, definitely a top four player when it comes to clay. Here is our preview of Thursday’s action at Roland Garros.
(1) Serena Williams vs. (5) Sara Errani H2H Williams leads 5-0 (2-0 on clay)
The French Open is the only slam that Serena Williams has not won twice in her career. And now that she is through to the semis in Paris for the first time in ten years, the 31 year old American is going to be hard to beat. Serena comes into Thursday’s semi-final against Errani on a 29 match winning streak. Having survived a tough test by Kuznetosva in the quarters, Serena is going to be match-tough. The American has 11 meteres, 23 pounds and 15 grand slam titles on Errani, which the Italian will find too much to overcome.
Errani has backed up her surprising run to last year’s final with semi-final finishes at the US Open and now in Paris again. But the Italian usually finds the going tough against the top players. Her win over Radwanska in the quarters was her first in 29 meetings against a top 5 player.
The two played a few weeks ago in Madrid, when Serena won 7-5, 6-2. Errani does not have the power range of Serena and relies heavily on her court craft, top spin and slices to defeat her opponents. Unfortunately for her, that will not be enough to derail Serena.
Prediction – Serena wins in straight sets
Serena on taking on Errani, “We had a pretty tough match in Madrid – I’m glad I played her in Madrid because I know she’s here to play and she’s here to compete. She’s so serious. I can be ready for that.”
Errani on taking on Serena, “It’s for sure going to be very difficult, because she’s very strong, and physically she’s an incredible athlete. She has a lot of power and it’s never easy to play against her. But maybe clay is a bit better than the other surfaces for me.”
(2) Maria Sharapova vs. (3) Victoria Azarenka H2h Azarenka leads 7-5 (0-2 on clay)
With both of them having lop-sided records against Serena, the rivalry between Azarenka and Sharapova may be the closest the WTA has to a top rivalry. The two have met 12 times and while Azarenka won both their encounters at the slams last year, Sharapova owns a 2-0 record on clay.
Azarenka is through to her first semi-final in Paris and while she may match Sharapova shot-for-shot, she may not be able to match Sharapova’s clay court experience. The two blondes have both reached their fifth semi-final in the last six slams. And there’s a lot at stake – another chance to challenge Serena in the finals and the no. 2 ranking (Sharapova needs to win the title this week in order to retain the no. 2 spot). It’s going to be a close one but expect Sharapova to pull though this.
Prediction – Sharapova in three sets
Azarenka on meeting Sharapova, “I know it’s going to be a very tough match against the defending champion. It’s our first meeting here, so it’s definitely going to be exciting and interesting. It’s a matter of really applying my game and not really allowing Maria to step up – she loves to hit the first two shots and make you run after the ball. So we are kind of similar and kind of different in the same way. It will be a battle.”
Sharapova on meeting Azarenka, “We haven’t played on clay in almost a year, I believe – last time was in Stuttgart. She’s playing really well this tournament. Always a tough match. We have played each other so many times, there are really no secrets between each other in terms of our game styles, and what we do well and what we don’t do well. It’s the semifinals and, you know, I’m really looking forward to it.”