French Open 2015 Day 14 Preview: Serena vs. Safarova

published: Jun, 06, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

by: Tom Cochrane

Stan Wawrinka is through to Sunday’s men’s singles final after the eighth seed overcame local hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 4 sets on Friday. He will have to wait until later today to find out the identity of his opponent for the final, after rain halted Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic’s semi-final midway through the fourth set.

Murray and Djokovic will resume play today, following which Serena Williams and Lucie Safarova will slug it out for the women’s championship. See below for my thoughts on who will be lifting the women’s trophy later today.

Day 13 Recap

The first men’s semi-final saw 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka seeking to book his spot in another Grand Slam final, with the hopes of French fans resting on the shoulders of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. One break of serve to Wawrinka was enough to allow the Swiss seed to secure the first set, 6-3. Another break to Wawrinka early in the second set had the Parisian crowd worried, but Tsonga changed his outfit and worked his way back into the set, levelling the set at 4-all before later dominating the second set tiebreaker, dropping just one point as he evened up the match at a set apiece.

The third set saw Tsonga create plenty of chances to break serve, but the Frenchman will rue his inability to convert such chances. The third set again went to a tiebreaker, but this time it was Wawrinka who came up with the goods to take a decisive 2 sets to one lead. Tsonga, who ultimately converted just one of 17 break point opportunities for the match, dropped serve early in the fourth set and Wawrinka hung on to clinch the win in 3 hours and 46 minutes.

The second semi-final saw Murray and Djokovic get straight down to business, with the pair engrossed in several long rallies from the outset. The world number one got the first break of serve in the eighth game of the match and duly converted his advantage to claim the opening set, 6-3. A couple of sloppy service games from the Scot in the second set allowed Djokovic to establish a commanding 2 sets to love lead.

With the forecast being for showers, Djokovic was looking to finish off the match in straight sets, but Murray wasn’t ready to concede defeat, successfully serving to stay in the match in the tenth game of the third set and then earning his first break of the match as he claimed the third set, 7-5.

The fourth set featured plenty of early drama, with Murray saving 3 break points in his first service game of the set before the players traded service breaks. At 3-all in the fourth set, play was abandoned for the day, leaving Djokovic in the driver’s seat but Murray still in with a chance.

Match of the Day – Day 14

Serena Williams vs. Lucie Safarova

After more than 11 years on the WTA Tour and 39 previous Grand Slam main draw appearances, Czech Lucie Safarova is through to her first ever major final. A popular and well-respected player on tour, Safarova has steadily worked on her game in the past couple of years under the watchful eye of coach Rob Steckley and her appearance in the final is due reward for all of her hard work. Now she faces the biggest test in women’s tennis: taking down world number one Serena Williams, a 19-time major winner and the holder of a 8-0 win-loss record against Safarova.

To my mind, this match comes down to a couple of critical factors. First, how is Serena Williams feeling physically? The American has been battling a flu and looked very unwell during her semi-final against Bacsinszky. Williams skipped practice and media duties yesterday in a bid to rest up, but it remains to be seen whether the world number one will be back to full health in time for today’s final. Williams showed plenty of grit to fight back and beat Bacsinszky in 3 sets, but that win may have left her sapped of energy.

The second critical factor in this contest is how Safarova handles the occasion. The Czech seed is a tour veteran, but this is the first time she has played in a Grand Slam final and there is a chance that she will wilt in the spotlight. However, Safarova handled her nerves in her semi-final against Ivanovic better than her opponent did, and from another perspective one could argue that Safarova is the rank outsider and has no pressure on her, meaning she can swing freely and go for her shots.

Bacsinszky was unable to capitalise on her chances in the semi-finals against Williams, failing to finish off the American when she was on the ropes, but I think Safarova will do a better job in this regard if she gets the opportunity. Assuming she is relatively close to full health, Williams is still the firm favourite to my mind, but I suspect that this will be a tight contest. Williams in 3.

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

Tom Cochrane

I like to work the angles around the tennis court. Not afraid to take the pace off the ball, I also have an affinity with the occasional cheeky drop shot.

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