It is women’s semi-finals day at the French Open on Thursday with both of the matches being played in the day session where we will find out which two ladies will return on Saturday to battle for the second Grand Slam title of the year.
We have three seeded players and an in form surprise package on show on Thursday on a day where nerves, tension and drama is likely to be on the menu with three of the competitors competing at this stage of a major for the first time.
Iga Swiatek vs Daria Kasatkina
The first of the two semi-finals sees the overwhelming tournament favourite Iga Swiatek taking on a dangerous Daria Kasatkina who has done her season no harm whatsoever when you consider that she won’t be able to compete in the next Grand Slam.
Kasatkina has had a great run on the clay this season but you have to fear for her here because these two have played three times this year and Swiatek has rolled the Russian over on all three occasions. They were all on a hard court but the problem Kasatkina has now is that clay probably suits Swiatek even more. I think the only thing that keeps this close is if the weight of history and expectation sits badly on the shoulders of the world number one. If she wins here she levels the longest winning streak of all time and obviously would break it with a win on Saturday. There have been one or two signs in this tournament that she was feeling the pinch but against Pegula on Wednesday she was back to her ominous best. To be fair to Kasatkina she has cruised through to this stage but I sense this is a step too far however there isn’t enough wiggle room on the handicap for me to oppose the Russian here.
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Martina Trevisan vs Coco Gauff
Two women who will be playing in their first Grand Slam semi-final meet in the second match of the day when the Italian player Martina Trevisan takes on a player who has been hyped up as a star of the future in Coco Gauff.
That future could well now be the present with Gauff a pretty warm favourite to win this match but I think Trevisan merits a little bit of respect here. She has put together a nine-match winning streak on this surface and readily admits she is playing the best tennis of her career. She has won matches with bits to spare in this run but as we saw in the quarter final she is able to dig in and come through too. That would be my concern for Gauff. She has won 19 matches in 2022 but only two of them have come in a third set. Of course it is good to win emphatically but there is a sense that when she is drawn into a battle she lacks the poise or ability to handle the pressure, which is understandable given her young age. I do expect Trevisan to draw her into a battle and I’d be tempted to back her outright but I don’t really want anything to do with nerves in getting over the line on such a huge occasion so the Italian with a 4.5 game start will do me. I think she’ll get stuck into enough Gauff service games to stay close and the longer she’s in this match for the better her chances might get.
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