WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up French Open tips for an unlikely semi-final match-up between Barbora Krejčíková and Maria Sakkari.
00:05 (AEST), Fri 11th Jun @ Roland Garros, Paris
History: Played 2: Krejčíková 2 V Sakkari 0
Last meeting: Dubai Tennis Championships, 2021 (R64): Krejčíková d Sakkari 6-2 7-6
Final Thoughts: The French Open will produce a first-time women’s Grand Slam champion for the sixth straight year with Maria Sakkari, Barbora Krejčíková, Anastasia Pavlychenkova and Tamara Zidansek progressing to the semi-finals. Pavlychenkova was the only member of the quartet to have previously been past the fourth round of a major.
World No.18 Sakkari is the highest-ranked player remaining and the title favourite after claiming some massive scalps in the past week. After eliminating 14th seed Elise Mertens in the third round, the powerful Greek star decimated fourth seed and 2020 French Open finalist Sofia Kenin 6-1 6-3.
But few saw her 6-4 6-4 quarter-final upset of dominant defending champ Iga Świątek coming. The vastly improved Sakarri’s previous best performance at a major was fourth-round appearances at last year’s Australian and US Opens.
World No.33 Krejčíková is appearing in just her fifth Grand Slam, though she made it to the fourth round at Roland Garros last year.
Krejčíková has swept aside a string of higher-profile opponents over the past fortnight. She has racked up straight-sets wins over 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, fifth seed Elina Svitolina, 2018 French Open finalist Sloane Stephens and 24th seed Coco Gauff.
History favours underdog
Krejčíková boasts the head-to-head advantage here, winning both previous clashes between the 25-year-olds. The first was back in 2014 when they were teenagers, but Krejčíková also upset Sakkari in the first round in Dubai in March.
The Czech went on to reach just her second WTA final at that tournament, before piecing together an impressive French Open build-up on clay. Krejčíková rolled Sofia Kenin and took a set off Świątek at the Rome Masters. She then claimed her maiden WTA title at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.
Both players are in career-best form and this shapes as a titanic battle. Sakkari is the $1.59 favourite but she made have played her final in getting past the imposing Świątek. She also unmistakably under more pressure. Krejčíková has dominated some excellent players in recent days and I’m tipping the outsider to grab a shock final berth.
FRENCH OPEN TIPS
|Anastasia Pavlychenkova V Tamara Zidansek||Games Handicap – Pavlychenkova -2.5 @ $1.87|