Sharapova offers Russian resistance to Williams at Roland Garros

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Maria Sharapova may represent the value pick at 4/1 to retain her French Open title in 2015 but unless the Russian can either end her poor run against Serena Williams or benefit from an early exit for her rival, it’s difficult to look past the world no.1.

A finalist in each of the last three years at Roland Garros, Sharapova’s price means the 27-year-old could even offer some value as an each way pick for those backing her to the hilt.

Winner of all four grand slam events, Sharapova has often saved her best form for the clay courts of France, winning two French Open titles so far.

Ranked 7th seed last year, the relatively low expectations surrounding the Russian worked in her favour, though she was undoubtedly a deserving champion having progress in three hard-fought sets in each of the matches she played from the fourth round onwards.

The likes of Simona Halep (9/2) and Eugenie Bouchard (16/1) could well test Sharapova’s limits of endurance yet again in Roland Garros but her favourable head-to-head record against either one

makes her a better pick for glory in France.

That is provided someone does the difficult job of dispatching Williams.

Sharapova’s 2004 Wimbledon final victory is over a decade ago with the result proving something of a false dawn for the eastern European, who has struggled to match the efforts of the American over the years.

One of the few consistent forces in the women’s game, Williams is already guaranteed a place among the greats but if she does have a weakness it is on clay.

The 11/4 favourite has “only” won two French Open titles – a noticeably miserly haul compared with the six Wimbledon, five Australian Open and six US Open titles also in her trophy cabinet.

Dumped out of the competition by Spanish upstart Garbine Muguruza last year in only the second round, it was the third time in four appearances at the event that Williams had failed to progress to the quarter finals – a startlingly statistic for the so often dominant 33-year-old.

But face Sharapova, as she did in the 2013 final, and there is likely to be only one winner with the Russian falling to a 6-4 6-4 straight sets defeat two years back at Roland Garros.

The head to head record between the pair does not make pleasant reading for Sharapova either, with Williams winning 17 of their 19 previous meetings.

Despite this, the Russian looks the best bet for more glory in France though if you are confident of Williams going far, it may just pay to back Sharapova each way.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.