Serena Williams leads the charge on the women's front into the quarterfinals. Join us as we preview day 11 of the French Open and serve up choice tennis picks for the women's quarterfinals.
Sara Errani vs. Serena Williams
Serena Williams hasn't had an easy time of it in Paris to reach the quarterfinals. After a straightforward opener, she's had to dig deep and come from behind to win in three sets in her last three matches. Nevertheless, true to her championship credentials she's found a way to advance into the quarterfinals despite not playing her best tennis.
Friedsam surprisingly took it to Serena in the second round, but Serena stormed back to win the match 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Azarenka was always expected to be a tough obstacle in the third round and the Belarusian didn't disappoint. Serena still found a way to eke out the 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win. In the R16, fellow American Sloane Stephens, who took out Venus Williams in the first round, presented another stern test in Serena's quest for her 20th Grand Slam title. Indeed she blitzed Serena 6-1 in the first set before the nerves set in and she allowed Serena to will herself back into the match and win 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Next up for Serena Williams is Italian Sara Errani, a former runner up at the French Open (2012). However, with an 8-0 head-to-head edge over Errani, which includes five wins on clay, one of which was an unmemorable 6-0, 6-1 rout in the French Open semi-finals during her title winning run (2013), the wide expectation is for a return to dominating form by Serena.
The 17th seed Errani fell into a nice corner of the top half of the draw and advances into the last eight having faced just one seeded player, the tenth seed Andrea Petkovic. In the early rounds, Errani needed three sets to dispatch lesser opponents, but since her third round win over Petkovic she hasn't dropped a set. In the R16, she took out Julia Georges in straight sets, two rounds after the German had punched above her weight class by taking out Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.
As it is, this match is st on a lopsided line with Serena Williams the runaway favourite at -1000 tennis odds. Errani is a long shot tennis pick at +600 to win outright. For the sake of competition and enjoyable viewing one would love to be able to say that Errani will take it to Williams and give her a run for her money. It would also be great to be able to say that as an underdog she presents value for your tennis picks. Everybody loves a Cinderella and beating Serena in a Grand Slam quarterfinal would be simply amazing for Errani to pull off. Unfortunately, it's hard to say any of these things with any conviction when the evidence simply isn't there. It would be something that simply comes out of nowhere in this case.
In eight meetings, Errani has only managed to take two sets off Serena Williams. Three times she lost a set to Serena Williams by a score of 6-0 and by a score of 6-1. This year, however, she did take a set off Serena in Fed Cup action before losing 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3. Errani has gotten even fitter and stronger than previously and that helps her counterpunching game on clay. As well, that the Fed Cup match, in which she played Serena close, was on clay could send Errani into this French Open quarterfinal with a measure of optimism. However, Fed Cup atmosphere and Grand Slam action are two different things. Errani's not going to enjoy the same sort of rousing support she had in Italy where the Fed Cup tie was played.
Tennis picks: Serena to win -1000; in straight sets at -300. (Three sets is a tempting +333 tennis pick, but it's a long shot one assumes).
Alison Van Uytvanck vs. Timea Bacsinszky
All in all, this was Kvitova's section to win or lose. Most tennis handicappers had it down to Petra Kvitova winning while some might have fancied Eugenie Bouchard, although why beggars belief when the Canadian is struggling on form. In any event, we have one of the most unanticipated matchups on the day's French Open betting card between Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky and Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck.
Hands up if you had this quarterfinal matchup in your French Open bracket. Yup. No hands as far as we can tell. Nobody saw this quarterfinal matchup coming and if you did well you're a bloody genius.
That said we did say Kvitova could get a stern test from dark horse Timea Bacsinszky...[read it and weep], "On paper, Kvitova falls into the favourable side of this draw. That said she could get a stern test from dark horse Timea Bacsinszky."
We must admit though Van Uytvanck wasn't a player we saw going this deep into the tournament when the draw came out. The Belgian fell into Bouchard's corner of the second quarter and the moment the Canadian was dismissed in the first round by Mladenovic (one of our choice upset tennis picks in the early rounds, mind the section was blown wide open. Up for grabs by just about any of the players contained within. Kudos to the Belgian for capitalising and reaching her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal. Whatever happens it's going to be her biggest payday yet.
In any event, the tennis betting outlook is rather lopsided with Bacsinszky favoured to win at -500 and Van Uytvanck disadvantaged at +350. Consider this is a first for both and neither has been to a Grand Slam semi-final, the tennis betting line seems overzealous. There likely is going to be some nerves factoring and the pressure of the occasion could be overwhelming. It's a tossup, but one does have to give the edge to the Swiss Bacsinszky, who has had the tougher path, taken out bigger opponents and remained very composed through it all as if she belongs.
Tennis Picks: Bacsinszky -465 to win at BookMaker; in straight sets at -175 or three sets at +300