Saturday, June 09, 2012

2012 FRENCH OPEN: Women's Final Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's finals at Roland Garros for 2012. This year, I correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 1 of 2 women's semifinals. I also correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinals and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals this year. Last year I correctly predicted that Li Na would win the 2011  women's final.

Sara Errani ITA (21) vs. Maria Sharapova RUS (2). Maria Sharapova is playing in her 3rd major final in the last year and the seventh of her career (3-3 record). Her opponent is a much lower ranked player playing in her first major final. One would think this is a clear advantage for Sharapova, but the last two major finals that the Russian has lost have been to players playing in the first major final (2011 Wimbledon final to Petra Kvitova and 2012 Australian Open final to Victoria Azarenka). Those players will almost certainly go on to reach (and win) other major finals. Will Sara Errani?

The French Open is paradoxically one of the hardest tournaments to win, but also the one most likely to be won by someone who will win it but no other major (c.f. Iva Majoli, Francesca Schiavone and Ana Ivanovic). It favors players who have grown up on the surface, and who instinctively know how to move on the surface and construct patient, tactical points.

However, in a contest between power and guile, I'll take power. Especially if that power is combined with determination and mental fortitude. The only real weakness in Sharapova's game is her merely average ability to move on this surface and the tendency of her serve to go off in times of stress and/or tough weather conditions (like, bizarrely, bright sun or heavy winds). But Sharapova's weakest serve will still be better than Errani's best serve. There's also no question that Sharapova has a much better return game than the Italian. I would not be surprised if Errani holds serve less times than she is broken, and almost definitely will hold serve fewer times than she will be able to break Sharapova's serve. In that case, the sheer mathematics of tennis scoring (every game you don't hold belongs to your opponent) would dictate that the new World #1 will also be the newest Grand Slam champion.

MadProfessah's pick: Sharapova.

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