Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka? Serena Williams or Kiki Bertens? Predicting the French Open semis
It’s semi-finals time at the French Open. Who will come out on top? Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka? Serena Williams or Kiki Bertens? All predictions here
It’s semi-finals time at the French Open, and thanks to a rain-logged schedule, all four of the final singles matches are taking place on the same day – Day 13. This results in both the women’s and men’s penultimate matches happening almost simultaneously on different courts, keeping some intrigue alive for the players.
Here’s a look at the four semi-finals and predictions on their outcome:
Serena Williams (1) vs Kiki Bertens
Head-to-head: 1-0 in favour of Serena Williams
Last meeting: US Open 2015, Willimas won 7-6(5), 6-3
On the second weekend of May, Kiki Bertens took the first step on what has now become a storybook journey. The 58th-ranked player from the Netherlands was in Nuremberg, Germany, trying to qualify for its modest clay-court tournament offering a top prize of $43,000.
An unbeaten string of 12 matches later, Bertens is now in a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time, with defending champion Serena Williams waiting on the other side of the net and at least $558,000 in her pocket for being among the last four standing from the 128 who started two Sundays ago at Roland Garros.
Williams, on the other hand, is gunning for a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title. The top seed had a tough last-eight match against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, a match where she had to battle more than her opponent across the net – muggy, heavy conditions and mental turmoil. Finding a way to snatch victory, she could now steamroll her way to the title. There are injury concerns hovering over her Dutch adversary and Williams will aim to get the job done as quickly as possible.
Prediction: Williams in straight sets
Garbine Muguruza (4) vs Samantha Stosur (21)
Head-to-head: 0-1 in favour of Samantha Stosur
Last meeting: Madrid 2014, Stosur won 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
Sam Stosur knows what it's like to be a Grand Slam champion. Stosur was the runner-up at Roland Garros in 2010. The next year, she won the U.S. Open, beating Serena Williams in the final. And in 2012, she got to the semi-finals of the French Open and quarter-finals of the U.S. Open.
And then she suddenly had trouble getting to the latter stages of tennis' most important tournaments.
But now, at 32, she is back in business. She has flown almost under the radar, making the last four with scalps over Lucie Safarova and Simona Halep.
On the other side of the net is Garbine Muguruza, making the French Open semi-finals for the first time. The No. 4-seeded Muguruza will be under pressure as the favourite in this contest, but she has plenty of experience to draw from her Wimbledon semis appearance last year. After losing in the quarter-finals in the past two years at Roland Garros, the 22-year-old Spaniard looks ready for the big stage and might just edge this clash of heavy-hitters.
Prediction: Muguruza in three sets
Novak Djokovic (1) vs Dominic Thiem (13)
Head-to-head: 2-0 in favour of Novak Djokovic
Last meeting: Miami 2016, Djokovic won 6-3, 6-4
Novak Djokovic has his eyes set on a career Grand Slam. With no Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the World No. 1 has been the heavy favourite since the start of the fortnight at Roland Garros. The Serbian is just six sets away from creating history.
It is Djokovic's 30th career major semi-final. Only Roger Federer, with 39, and Jimmy Connors, with 31, have participated in more in the Open era. If Djokovic can win this French Open, it would give him four consecutive Grand Slam titles, something no man has done since Rod Laver won all four in 1969.
It will be a fourth straight day on court for Djokovic on Friday but at least he gets a change of scenery. Thanks to the cramped schedule, the top seed plays on neighboring Court Suzanne Lenglen rather than Court Philippe Chatrier, the main one at Roland Garros.
Dominic Thiem is Djokovic’s next hurdle and the talented 22-year-old is often touted as his heir too. With five titles on his beloved clay, Thiem has shown that he has the skills and the resilience to compete with the top players on the big stage. While this semi-final could be a massive stepping stone for the young Austrian’s career, Djokovic will not relent his grip on the throne as yet.
Prediction: Djokovic in four sets
Andy Murray (2) vs Stan Wawrinka (3)
Head-to-head: 8-7 in favour of Andy Murray
Last meeting: ATP Tour Final 2015, Wawrinka won 7-6(4), 6-4
Of all the matches lined up for frenzied Friday, this one is the most difficult to call. Stan Wawrinka has won the last three of their battles, without the loss of a single set. Andy Murray has also never beaten the Swiss on clay. But the Brit has made it to the semi-finals on the heels of a successful clay season, which includes a title in Rome with a victory over Djokovic.
Both these players have two Grand Slams apiece, but Wawrinka faces the pressure of defending his French Open title. Murray is seeking to become the first British man to reach the Roland Garros final since Bunny Austin in 1937.
The second seed overcame two tumultuous opening rounds and seems to have shrugged off early-tournament blues to discover some rhythm at Roland Garros. Wawrinka hasn’t faced any tough opposition yet and Murray could be a tricky challenge. Consistency is on the Scot’s side but if Wawrinka gets on a red-hot streak, blasting winners at will off both wings – as he did in 2015 to win the title- there is little that Murray can do to stop him. This is the encounter that will be most affected by the Weather Conditions in Paris. If the sun refuses to shine over Roland Garros yet again, it will be advantage Murray.
Prediction: Wawrinka in five sets
Rafael Nadal eased into the last 16 of the Italian Open on Wednesday with a straightforward 6-3, 6-1 win over John Isner, while Iga Swiatek is on course for a fifth straight WTA triumph.
Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest player since the start of the ATP Tour in 1990 to beat three top-five players at the same event.
Rafael Nadal, who turns 36 on 3 June, is playing his final warm-up in Rome this week before attempting to add to his record total of 13 French Open titles.