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French Open round four: Safarova and Sharapova clash again on clay

Defending French Open ladies’ singles champion Maria Sharapova, 5/2 second-favourite with Coral to retain this Grand Slam crown at Roland Garros this year, faces 13th seed Lucie Safarova in the fourth round.

The Russian racket star has lost on clay to the Czech player before, but holds a 4-1 head-to-head advantage going into their latest encounter. Sharapova is thus odds-on at 3/10 to win this match but, if their last three fixtures are any indicator, will do it in three sets with a better price of 11/4 saying that will happen again.

Safarova, 12/5 to knock out the reigning champion, impressively brushed aside former Wimbeldon finalist Sabine Lisicki to set up this clash. Sharapova looks bang in-form, though, dropping just 17 games in the first three rounds and is yet to be taken to a tiebreak.

Awaiting either Safarova or Sharapova in the quarter-finals shall be a surprise package in the bottom of this year’s French Open draw. Clay court specialist Carla Suarez Navarro and Angelique Kerber, one of the leading German players, both made third round exits to Flavia Pennetta and Garbine Muguruza respectively, thus guranteeing a woman from outside the top 20 will be in the last eight.

Venezuelan-born Spanish starlet Muguruza, who reached the quarters at Roland Garros last year, has won her two previous meetings with the Italian veteran, and is therefore an odds-on 1/2 match favourite here. Pennetta possesses much more experience, however, and is a 6/4 shout to reach the French Open final eight for the first time.

Tennis - 2015 French Open - Day Six - Roland Garros

Another outstanding last 16 clash pits two top 10 players against one another, with seventh seed and 2008 winner Ana Ivanovic (18/1 shot for a second French Open triumph) playing Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova for the third time at Grand Slams.

It’s one win apiece from hard court clashes, so it’s a tough one to call. Serbia’s Ivanovic is a narrow odds-on 8/15 match favourite following a dominant defeat of Donna Vekic in round three, where she dropped just three games against the Croatian. Another straight sets win is a 5/4 chance here.

Ninth seed Makarova (11/8 to win) did beat Ivanovic at the Australian Open in 2011 when they last met. It took three sets, however, and odds of 4/1 say that shall be the result again.

Home hope Alize Cornet is flying the flag alone for France now, and will be looking to play either Ivanovic or Makarova in the quarters, provided she can get past Ukrainian youngster Elina Svitolina (odds-on 4/6 match favourite).

As Cornet is 2-0 up on previous head-to-heads, she looks well worth a punt at 11/10 to upset the 19th seed again, especially as one of those victories was in straight sets on clay.

Coral betting tip: Sharapova to slay Safarova in three sets is a superb shout at 11/4.