By Antony Jordan
We’re down to the final four players in the women’s draw at Roland Garros as the French Open and the clay court season draws to a close. This Thursday sees two fantastic matches of tennis to see who’ll make Saturday’s final and do battle for the La Coupe des Mousquetaires as well as the second Grand Slam title of the year.
The first match sees Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova clash knowing that the world number one spot could be theirs with victory at Roland Garros, while the meeting of Jelena Ostapenko v Timea Bacsinszky sees the players do battle against each other on court for the first time on their birthdays!
We preview the two French Open Semi Final clashes with online sportsbook Bet365.com to bring you our best WTA tennis picks from the French capital this Thursday.
With Australian Open champion Serena Williams having failed to take her place in France for this tournament due to her being pregnant and defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza exiting the competition at the fourth round this Semi Final between Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova sees a clash of the top two seeds remaining in the competition. These numbers four and three in the world rankings are both one place better off due to Williams’ failure to line up in Paris but, despite the lower ranking of the two players, it is Romanian Halep who holds both the mantle of favourite with Bet365 and the better head to head record with the Czech second seed.
The players have clashed on five previous occasions over the past two years and apart from one Federation Cup clash last year it has been Halep securing the victories all the way so far. She has won four of the five previous clashes in straight sets and took the title in Dubai in their first clash, while her last win came almost a year ago at the Roger’s Cup in Montreal with her easiest of wins at 6-3,6-3.
Adding to the better record in matches against the world number three, Simona Halep has had a better time of things at Roland Garros this past two weeks despite having had a tougher set of opponents to navigate. The Romanian has dropped a set on just one occasion as she overcame the fifth seed Elina Svitolina in the Quarter Finals while 26th and 21st seeds Daria Kasatkina and Carla Suarez Navarro were beaten 6-0, 7-5 and 6-1, 6-1 respectively.
Pliskova has dropped a set on two occasions so far and has faced just one seeded player on her way to the French Open Semi Finals, so if she can drop a set to Veronica Cepede Royg, ranked 97th in the WTA rankings, then we have a feeling that she could find herself on the end of a defeat in this final four stage clash too and we can see Halep securing another comfortable victory in this one too.
Our best bet for this Simona Halep v Karolina Pliskova clash is back Halep to win 2-0 @ 1.83 with Bet365.com.
While the first Semi Final we took a look at sees a meeting of two highly ranked players who are well acquainted in facing each other court, this second clash from the final four stage of the women’s draw pits unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko against Swiss 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky in their first ever clash.
19 year old Ostapenko has become the first Latvian to ever reach the Semi Finals of a Grand Slam and she has done so in style. Her last two victories have seen her defeat seeded players Samantha Stosur and Caroline Wozniacki who were respective French Open finalists and world number one players. The youngster did show battling qualities in both matches as she came from a set down in the two clashes to book her place in this final four stage match against a player she partnered with in Wuhan last year during a doubles tournament.
The Swiss 2015 French Open Semi Finalist has impressed on her way to the final four stage and only Venus Williams has managed to take a set from her in five matches so far – and that came early in their round four clash. After Venus won the first set 7-5, Bacsinszky upped her game and eased into the Quarter Finals with wins of 6-2, 6-1 and now the player who will be turning 28 on match day will be aiming to secure her best ever Grand Slam performance by making the final.
We believe that the older and more experienced Swiss player has what it takes to make the final ahead of the much younger Latvian who shares the same birthday, but we do not see this being an easy win and we can see these players going the distance.