Comeback queen Sharapova can handle Halep in French Open final
Coral make Maria Sharapova, who has completed the career Grand Slam, an odds-on 4/7 favourite to win the French Open Women’s title for a second time, despite being ranked three places below opponent Simona Halep in the seeding for Roland Garros.
The Russian, 27, is facing perhaps the most improved player on the WTA tour in this Romanian export and current world number four. Halep, an 11/8 outsider to take a maiden Grand Slam at the first attempt, has made serene progress into uncharted territory, as she is yet to drop a set in Paris.
Advancing to the final has been less straightforward for Sharapova, however. The seventh seed had to come behind in her last 16, quarter and semi-final victories. Based on those facts, Halep looks a decent bet to take the opening set at 11/10.
The status of Sharapova as a comeback queen was solidified by her win in three sets 4-6 7-5 6-2 over Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard – almost a younger version of herself. An 11/4 price on the Russian taking the title 2-1 is hugely tempting.
Halep’s previous best at a Slam before reaching this French final was a last eight appearance at the Australian Open earlier in the season. The Romanian won a second set tie-break 7-4 over Andrea Petkovic of Germany to book her place against Sharapova. Odds of 6/1 say this method will be needed to decide the outcome of a set here.
Sharapova has a mixed record in the finals of Slams; she has won as many as she has lost. Halep, meanwhile, who knocked Great Britain’s Heather Watson out in the second round, had an easier route to the last stage.
Russian number one Sharapova knocked three fellow top 20 seeds out, with the clay court surface proving to be a graveyard for so many top players at earlier stages. Punters can expect Halep to give a good account of herself, but she may find it difficult playing the match and not the occasion.
Back Sharapova’s experience at the business end of major tournaments and Slams to come through here, but it looks like going to a third set.