The women's front moves into the semifinal round on Thursday, marking day 12 of the French Open. Join us as we preview both stellar matchups and serve up our choice tennis picks.
Ivanovic +100 vs. Safarova -125
The first ladies semi-final pits Ana Ivanovic and Lucie Safarova against one another, a match that is finely poised on the French Open board with Safarova edging Ivanovic ever so slightly. The former French Open Open champion Ivanovic though is priced smack on EVEN money, indicating she's got just as much of a reasonable shot to win this match as does Safarova.
By the stats, Safarova edges Ivanovic 5-3 lifetime, but Ivanovic won their last meeting in Tokyo last year 6-3, 6-2. On clay, they are dead even 1-1 after splitting their two only meetings. Ivanovic won their clash at the 2008 French Open in the R64, 6-1, 6-2, en route to the French Open crown. To date her only major title. Safarova levelled the score at the 2014 French Open when she beat the Serbian starlet 6-3,6-3 in the R32.
If there's one edge Ivanovic has it's that she's been to a major final. Years ago now maybe, but it's still a memory that she can draw inspiration from for this clash. Safarova has only been as far as the semis of a major. She did it for the first time at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships (l. to Kvitova). And she's reached her second major semi-final in Paris this week.
Another advantage Ivanovic has it's that she's the fresher of the two players. Safarova is playing doubles with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and they are through to the semis after winning their match today.
That said this could go either way, really. Both Safarova and Ivanovic have played a fine tournament and deserve to be in the semis. Safarova has the big scalp over Sharapova, which could tip the confidence factor her way. After all, if she can defeat the reigning champion, what's a former champion. The way she took out Sharapova firing her lefty forehand down the line and her backhand down the line could be a problem for Ivanovic. As such, the Czech is an excellent tennis pick at -125 to win outright. But, call it a hunch, this could be the renaissance of Ana Ivanovic at the French Open.
Tennis Picks: Ana Ivanovic +100
Serena Williams -600 vs. Timea Bacsinszky +400
Serena Williams and Timea Bacsinszky have only met twice in their careers. Once in 2010, when Serena won 7-6 (2), 6-1 in Rome. And once in 2015 when Serena won 7-5, 6-3 in the Indian Wells quarterfinals. This is their first-ever Grand Slam meeting, one in which Serena Williams has a whole lot more experience to draw from than Bacsinszky, who is through to her first semis ever.
In more ways than one, Bacsinszky has played above her head to reach the semis. Her win over Kvitova was all heart and some costly errors by the highly-favoured Czech. Against Serena Williams though she's going to need a minor miracle, never mind heart. Hence her long shot tennis odds of +400.
Serena is going to be glad she's not facing Kvitova, who beat her in Madrid quite convincingly. Had it been Kvitova staring her down, Serena Williams might be a lot more concerned about her French Open campaign. Heck, we might have even recommended a tennis pick against the mighty American. But with Bacsinszky across the net, at this stage of a Grand Slam when Serena is at her best, it'll take some lights out tennis by the Swiss to advance into the finals at the expense of Serena. Somehow, we don't see it happening.
Tennis Picks: Serena -600; straight sets -188 at 5Dimes