Sara Errani and Andrea Petkovic will open proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier on Wednesday, a match that promises an intriguing clash of styles. Check out the Errani vs Petkovic Head to Head.
Errani is into the last eight at Roland Garros for the third year in a row, having finished runner-up in 2012 and reached the semi-finals last year. This has been an encouraging tournament for the diminutive Italian, who recently dropped out of the top 10. She hung with an inspired Madison Keys in the first round to triumph in three sets, took care of Dinah Pfizenmaier in the second round without much difficulty, and thrashed Julia Glushko for the loss of only one game in round three.
Errani was arguably even more impressive on Monday, edging a marathon first set with Jelena Jankovic and then turning the screw to take the slugfest 7-6, 6-2. That marked her third victory over a top ten player this season, and will have buoyed her spirits as she enters the “business end” of the French Open 2014.
Andrea Petkovic has also been to the Roland Garros quarter-finals before, but not since 2011, before she suffered a series of injuries that sent her ranking spiralling. It has taken a while for the German to reclaim the confidence and form that once took her to 10th in the WTA standings, but her performance in Charleston two months ago suggested that she had turned a corner. There, she took out the likes of Sabine Lisicki and Eugenie Bouchard to claim her first title in three years and, with it, a return to the top 30.
Petkovic is an intelligent player with a more nuanced and versatile game than Errani. At her best, she can mix aggressive hitting with great defence, adjusting tactics to exploit an opponent’s weakness. Errani is the archetypal grinder: she rarely goes big, but she can go all day, and that is enough to derail most players on clay.
We should note that, although Petkovic has produced some excellent tennis and shown admirable mental fortitude to get this far, she hasn’t had to face a player ranked higher than 71 in her first four matches. All of her previous victims gave her plenty of errors, while failing to capitalise on Petkovic’s own mistakes. Sara Errani will do neither of those things. She’ll scramble and scrap for every ball and force the 28th seed to come up with something special.
If Petkovic can summon her A game and avoid becoming too passive, she has a chance to make a maiden Grand Slam semi-final. But if she is nervous or out-of-sorts, we can expect Errani to extend every rally as long as possible and walk away a straight sets winner.