So the ladies finalists have been decided by way of two contrasting semi-finals which delivered emotion and efficiency in their purest forms.
The first saw former champ and now three time finalist Sharapova defeat the brave 20 year old Bouchard in a see-sawing contest. Masha’s many many fans couldn’t have enjoyed much of the contest such was the Russian’s wayward momentum almost point by point.
For much of the early stages the 7th seed struggled to find any consistency – the serve in particular just wasn’t working in any way. To her credit, Genie remained unfazed and wholly focused, sweeping to the first set before her opponent’s power proved too much.
The Canadian showed a maturity and belief beyond her 20 years, but although that is typical of tennis players, you sense that she will be more than just a flash in the pan with one good year in her.
That is, if she can stay out of the Bieber-esque spotlight.
Maria meanwhile continues to leave her best fighting spirit for the clay and once again mounting a remarkable comeback from a set down. The outcome of the match rested on her shoulders against a player who would remain consistent and resilient, it was down to the Russian to make things happen.
She did so with aplomb and showed great emotion, unfortunately accompanied by thatscreech.
It will likely be a similar story in the final as Masha will meet an opponent who is even more infallible here in Paris.
Once Hantuchova and Zvonareva hang up their racquets (not long now unfortunately), Simona Halep will take up the accursed mantle of ‘my favourite player’ on the women’s side. No mean feat considering she recently cut all ties with my beloved Lacoste for adidas (why?).
The Romanian is immensely likeable, her all-court game reminds me of Hingis in its use of angle and intelligent shot-making and no player hits the ball as cleanly.
Her athleticism is a wonder to behold and her attitude and persona is a million miles away from the grunting baseline sloggers that litter the tour.
Andrea Petkovic who has thrilled fans all over with her deserved and well-earned comeback did at times have the power and the panache to cause Halep problems yesterday, but nerves were ultimately the German’s undoing.
The first set was a done deal very quickly but despite several chances in the second, Andrea played a poor tiebreak and suddenly it was all over. Still this maiden major semi-final will hopefully give Petkovic even more proof that she does at last belong once again in the top ten.
Men’s Semi-Final predictions.
Ernests Gulbis vs Novak Djokovic
Gulbis and Djokovic know each other well and both were tipped to headline the next generation of male players. Of course, while Novak has delivered on such promise, only now has his Latvian compadre begun to do the same. Still, wins over Federer and Berdych point to a man at the very height of his powers. If Djoko has one or two of his obligatory blips then he could be in for an alimighty battle.
Verdict – Djokovic in five.
Andy Murray vs Rafa Nadal
Muzza has had a rough ride up to now, showing world-beating brilliance and brittleness with every match more or less. Was he lucky to get past Monfils? Well yes and no, the Scot looked a beaten man in that fourth set, but was it simply an energy-saving ruse? It’s hard to tell – what isn’t in doubt however is the unfathomable capitulation from his opponent. Nadal has also blown hot and cold during the entire clay season. It seems however that the Spaniard is playing himself into his best for m right now when it matters.
Still, such has been Andy’s improvement that it really isn’t a foregone conclusion.
Verdict – Nadal in five.