Maria Sharapova reaches her third straight French Open final, but standing in her way is Simona Halep, who reaches her first-ever Grand Slam final. Find out who will prove to be the best bet as we weigh in on this exciting clash, and deliver our verdict.
Sharapova closing in on a second Frenchy
For someone who once said she felt like a “cow on ice” on clay, to reach a third straight French Open final is quite astonishing, and only goes to emphasize just how great a player Maria Sharapova really is.
Maria Sharapova, champion in 2012 and runner-up in 2013, is through to the French Open final, where she will take on Simona Halep, a 22-year-old Romanian that barely registered on anybody’s radar early in her career, but somehow reinvented herself last year during the European clay-court swing, and hasn’t looked back since. Sharapova advanced into the final following a three-set win over Eugenie Bouchard, an up-and-coming Canadian star that is surely going to win a major in the near future. Sharapova lost the first set, but gritted her way to a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory. It wasn’t a pretty match, as far as Sharapova was concerned. She was unnerved, frazzled and disorientated through the first two sets. She put it best, when she weighed in on her performance. “It’s not how you finish a first set," she said, “but how you finish the last set.”
Simona Halep advances into the final of the French Open, her first-ever major final, following a straight set victory over a very jittery Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 7-6 (4). Halep has never been beyond the quarterfinals of a major, a feat she recently accomplished at the Australian Open, where she lost to Dominika Cibulkova. The Romanian boasts an 0-3 record against Sharapova, which includes a recent defeat to the Russian starlet in the Madrid Open final. In order to win her first-ever Grand Slam title, she’ll have to do something she’s never done before: beat Maria Sharapova.
Beating the Russian is no mean feat. Indeed, her last three matches in Paris underscore this notion. In each, she lost the first set only to storm back to win in three. In the R16, Stosur took the first set 6-3 before Sharapova won the next two sets 6-4, 6-0.
Garbine Muguruza stunned Sharapova 6-1 in the first set of their quarterfinal clash. She even got to match point in the second set before Sharapova turned things around, taking the second set 7-5 and going to win the third set 6-1. Similarly, Bouchard started auspiciously before losing 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
When push comes to shove, Sharapova is tough to beat. Not unlike her nemesis Serena Williams -- the American is the only player, really, that is dialled in when into Sharapova’s game – she is a fighter, competitor and a true champion. She can beat any WTA flower, because she can will her way to victory, do what it takes to win, even if it isn’t pretty. Just to illustrate, Sharapova is 53-4 with six titles on clay since 2012; three of her four defeats on the red stuff were courtesy of Serena, including the 2013 French Open final.
French Open Final Betting Verdict
Predictably, Maria Sharapova enters the final clash as the hot favourite to win outright at -188. She is listed as the -163 favourite to win the first set, despite dropping the first set in her last three matches. What’s more, she’s the -110 favourite to win the first set and win the match.
Simona Halep is listed at +120 to win Saturday’s final at the expense of popular tennis betting favourite Maria Sharapova. Many experts earmarked Halep for the French Open title, and she’s just a match win away from coming through on their cautiously optimistic predictions. Her story is a feel-good story: a tennis fairytale begging for its crowning moment. There couldn’t be a more fitting end to Halep’s Cinderella run, of course, but can she really do it at the expense of one of the grittiest fighters in the women’s game, Maria Sharapova? It’s a tall order, for the diminutive Romanian, not to mention, a big occasion that could prove bigger than she is (no pun intended).
Tennis Free Picks: Choose Maria Sharapova to win outright at -188, and/or in three sets at +250 for your tennis picks.