by: Tom Cochrane
Day 12 is women’s semi-finals day at Roland Garros, with a blockbuster clash between Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova in one semi-final, and Sam Stosur taking on Sara Errani in the other semi-final.
Day 11 Recap
Day 11 saw the remainder of the quarter-finals in both the men’s and women’s tournaments completed. On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal improved his lifetime record at Roland Garros to an astonishing 50 wins and 1 loss, as the second seed disposed of his compatriot Nicolas Almagro in straight sets. The first set was a hard-fought contest, with Almagro serving well and taking it to a tiebreaker. Having worked his way back from 5-1 down to 5-4 down in the tiebreaker, Almagro was forced into error by Nadal, and the second seed claimed the set on the next point. From there, Nadal wasn’t really troubled, taking an early break in the second set and cruising to a 7-6(4) 6-2 6-3 victory.
Nadal will now face another Spaniard in David Ferrer for a spot in Sunday’s final. Ferrer is through to his maiden French Open semi-final after beating fourth seed Andy Murray in 4 sets. Ferrer raced out to an early lead in the first set and held on to the break to capture the opening set. Murray answered by winning the second set in a tiebreaker before Ferrer responded by claiming the third set for a 2 sets to 1 lead.
The start of the fourth set proved to be the critical part of the match, as Murray broke in the opening game of the set before twice relinquishing his serve to allow Ferrer to go up a break. Ferrer held on to that advantage before breaking Murray one final time to notch up the victory.
In the women’s tournament, Maria Sharapova moved through to the semi-finals with a fairly routine 6-2 6-3 win over Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi. It was a much improved display from the Russian, after her scrappy win over Klara Zakopalova in the previous round.
Sharapova will face Petra Kvitova after the Wimbledon champion came from a set down to defeat Kazakh qualifier and doubles expert Yaroslava Shvedova, 3-6 6-2 6-4.
Matches of the Day – Day 12
1. Petra Kvitova vs. Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova go head to head in the semi-finals today, their third meeting in 4 Grand Slams. At Wimbledon last year, Kvitova stunned Sharapova in the final to win her first ever Grand Slam. The Russian gained a measure of revenge at the Australian Open earlier this year, defeating Kvitova in the semi-finals.
The number of upsets in the women’s draw has meant that Kvitova has had an easy run to the semi-finals, having not faced a seeded player up to this point. Clay is not Kvitova’s forte, but the Czech has been solid enough in her lead-up matches. She was forced to come back from a set down to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova in the quarter-finals, but to be honest Kvitova is probably all the better for the decent hit-out.
Sharapova put in a much more polished performance against Kanepi in the quarter-finals than against Zakopalova in the round of 16. Sharapova’s serve worked much better against Kanepi, and the result was a far easier match for the second seed. It has taken Sharapova many years to become an accomplished clay-court player, but she now has the experience and patience to beat anyone on the surface. If the second seed can serve well and not let Kvitova dictate play, I favour the Russian. Sharapova in 3.
2. Sam Stosur vs. Sara Errani
Having never been past the third round of a Grand Slam going into 2012, the petite Italian Sara Errani made it through to the Australian Open quarter-finals, and has now backed it up with a run to the French Open semi-finals, taking out seeds Ivanovic, Kuznetsova and Kerber in the process.
A winner of clay-court titles in Budapest, Barcelona and Acapulco this season, Errani is clearly full of confidence on the red dirt. Will the enormity of her maiden Grand Slam semi-final overwhelm the Italian? You’d have to think not, given her success in tournament finals this year.
More likely to overwhelm Errani is the brutal power game of Sam Stosur. The Aussie lost to Errani’s compatriot Francesca Schiavone in the 2010 French Open final, in a match where Stosur tensed up and Schivone was the aggressor. Stosur says she has learned from that match and will be suitably aggressive in this clash.
If the sixth seed gets her powerful kick serve working well and is hitting her forehand with the same torque that caused Cibulkova to compare the Aussie’s game to that of a man, then I think Stosur will simply be too strong and powerful for Errani. Stosur in 2.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.