Maria Sharapova has to be counting her lucky stars that she does not have to face a fit Kim Clijsters in this year’s French Open. The 24 year old has overcome a rough couple of years that saw her win a slam at least once every two years. I do not believe Maria will have this kind of opportunity again to win the only slam left to win.
Maria Sharapova must go into her match with revenge on her mind against Andrea Petkovic to avenge the loss from the Australian Open. She has to go for it and carefully construct points to get the steady German off balance. Sharapova’s best clay court match was the one where she dispatched Wozniacki at the Italian Open. That surface should mirror the slow dirt in Paris and that win should be enough to get her through what will be a tough match. I expect whomever to be on the other end in her draw to be exhausted as both Li Na and Victoria Azarenka will battle for a chance to get to their first French Open semi. Although Li has shown she can bring the goods to the slams with a finals showing in Australia in ’11, semis Wimbledon, I expect Azarenka to pull through — she’s playing great tennis. I do believe this will be a dog fight which will favour Sharapova when it comes to the Semis. All Sharapova has to do is win easily against Petkovic, high first serve percentage and put her balls away.
As for the upper part of the draw, I’m predicting Kuznetsova over Bartoli; she’s been quietly going about her business, playing well and no one is talking about her. I like Bartoli, but I think Kuzy will overpower her. From what I saw from Francesca Schiavone, I believe she came fully believing that she can defend this title; she looks happy and is mixing up her shots very well. Jankovic could have beaten her in that 3 setter in the 4th round, but her unwillingness to go for her shots and a late game meltdown spoiled her shot at making another run to the semis where the Serb had been 3 previous times. I’m picking Fran in 3 to beat Anastasia and to face off Kuzy for a rematch of their Aussie Semi. Another battle looms between these two and I believe that will go the distance which will favour Sharapova. Kuznetsova has yet to defend her two previous Grand Slam titles; Schiavone is making a solid attempt, but the pressure of getting back to the final will surely play a factor in this match. All of this points to one outcome: advantage: Sharapova.