by: Tom Cochrane

It’s ladies’ semi-finals day on Day 12 of the French Open, and Andrea Petkovic and Simona Halep will compete against one another in what will be the first Grand Slam semi-final of each player’s career after completing stunning quarter-final wins on Day 11 .

Day 11 Recap

With the rain in Paris delaying the start of action until after 5:00pm local time, fourth seed Simona Halep wasted no time once she finally did get on court, the Romanian racing out to an early lead against 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and never looking back.

In cold and windy conditions, the Russian never looked settled against her crafty opponent, with Kuznetsova also being hampered by what appeared to be a left thigh injury. With her movement impaired, the two-time major champion was no match for her younger opponent, Halep moving through to the semi-finals after 79 minutes with a 6-2 6-2 victory.

Andrea Petkovic recorded an identical scoreline to Halep, also recording a 6-2 6-2 win. The German’s win was achieved in a different fashion, however, as she was forced to come from behind in both sets to upset 2012 finalist Sara Errani. Petkovic constantly sought to move inside the baseline and dictate play against her Italian opponent and the strategy paid off, with Errani winning just 39 percent of points on her first serve and a pathetic 17 percent of points on her second serve.

In the men’s tournament, 8-time champion Rafael Nadal shrugged off the loss of the opening set to compatriot David Ferrer, the top seed improving his form significantly as the match went on and the court surface dried out. Nadal took the second set 6-4 before growing in confidence and steamrolling Ferrer in the third and fourth sets to complete a 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-1 victory.

Nadal will play Andy Murray for a spot in Sunday’s final after the Wimbledon champion overcame Gael Monfils in 5 sets. The Scot raced out to a 2 sets to love lead before Monfils, spurred on by the boisterous Parisian crowd, lifted a gear and took the third and fourth sets to force a decider. However, the effort of getting back into the match clearly took its toll on the Frenchman, as Murray strolled to victory in the decider, eventually claiming a 6-4 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-0 win to reach his second career semi-final at Roland Garros.

Matches of the Day – Day 12

1. Simona Halep vs. Andrea Petkovic

Each of these players recorded a comprehensive win in the quarter-finals to move through to their maiden Grand Slam semi-final, and now it will be fascinating to see who handles the moment the best and can capitalise on what is a glorious opportunity to make it through to the final at Roland Garros.

The players have met 3 times previously, with Petkovic winning their initial encounter on clay and Halep taking the last 2 matches, both of which were in 2013. Halep has been one of the star performers on the WTA Tour in the last 12-18 months and is a very clever player, varying the speed of her shots and creating amazing angles from all parts of the court.

Petkovic is the more powerful player and showed against Errani that she is capable of outmuscling any opponent who is unable to match it physically with the German. Halep has more firepower than Errani and should do a better job of holding her serve than the Italian did against Petkovic, but I’m predicting that very little will separate these players in this match. I’ll take Halep by a whisker – gathering so many wins in the last 18 months has to give her confidence in the critical moments. Halep in 3.

2. Maria Sharapova vs. Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard reminds me a lot of a young Maria Sharapova – the Canadian has that rare mix of sufficient confidence to succeed and to not be intimidated by the big names on the WTA Tour, combined with a gritty determination and competitiveness to hang tough in any situation.

Bouchard never stopped fighting against Suarez Navarro in the quarter-finals and proved on the big points that she was mentally stronger than her Spanish opponent. Similarly, Sharapova refused to back down when she dropped the opening set against Stosur in the round of 16 and again when she went down a set to Muguruza in the quarter-finals.

The Russian is striking the ball extremely well and I think this is a good match-up for her, as Bouchard will give her plenty of pace to feed off. Sharapova has won both of the previous matches between the pair and, although the Canadian has improved significantly since they last met here in Paris a year ago, I still think Sharapova has to start as the warm favourite. Sharapova in 2.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.


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