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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


The women’s French Open finalists were determined yesterday and third seed and tournament favourite Simona Halep moved one step closer to winning that elusive first Grand Slam after she defeated second seed Pliskova in a high quality hard fought semi-final 6-4 3-6 6-3. The young Romanian is fortunate to be in this position after looking down and almost out when a set and 5-1 down against Svitolina in the quarter finals and this miraculous escape or monumental let off could be a sign she is destined to win after losing against drug cheat Sharapova in 2014.

Halep’s opponent in Saturday’s final will be the fairy tale story of this year’s championship 20 year old Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who is ranked 50 in the world and has never won a WTA tournament. She made history yesterday be becoming the first unseeded player to reach the French Open final in 34 years, after she defeated 30th seed Bacsinszky in a tense semi-final 7-6 3-6 6-3. It will be the first time Halep and Ostapenko have met on the WTA Tour and Halep is the clear favourite given her ranking and experience at this level and especially at this tournament.

The men’s finalist will be determined today and top-seed and 2016 finalist Andy Murray will attempt to reach a 12th Grand Slam final against 2015 winner and third seed Stan Wawrinka. This will be the Paris 18th meeting and Murray leads the head-to-head 10-7 and 3-2 in Grand Slams including his four set win at this stage last year, which is of course a significant result in terms of today’s outcome.

The other semi-final is between history seeking and outright favourite Rafa Nadal, who is aiming to win an unprecedented 10th French Open title and 15th Grand Slam title in total, and sixth seed Dominic Thiem, who will attempt to reach a first Slam final and who has looked in red hot form so far this fortnight, especially outing defending champion Djokovic in straight sets on Wednesday. This will be the seventh time the two have met, Nadal leads the head-to-head 4-2 and all meetings including this one have been on clay.

Nadal won both of this year’s significant encounters in the finals at Barcelona and the Madrid Masters, while Thiem won the most recent at Rome. With both Barcelona and Madrid known for quick conditions and the conditions looking quick at Roland Garros this year, it’s hard to oppose Nadal who has been looking in ominous form on clay leading up to today’s encounter compared to Thiem, who is definitely Nadal’s future successor on clay, but he’s still not quite there in terms of beating the game’s elite in the big matches.


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