Jankovic to give Sharapova rough ride in French Open semis
Agnieszka Radwanska may have fallen by the wayside, but the top three seeds in the women’s draw have all made it through to the quarter finals.
Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova look certain to progress again, but the latter could find herself in for a dust-up against old-sparring partner Jelena Jankovic.
A glance at the ledger of past clashes between Kirilenko and Azarenka tells a story that you wouldn’t need to be a tennis bookworm to understand.
Their head-to-head – which currently stands at 2-3 to the latter – began with two nip-and-tuck three-set wins for the Russian, with Azarenka’s rise to prominence from 2010 heralded by three straight sets wins against the woman she’ll face for a place in the semi-finals at Roland Garros.
Kirilenko’s win/loss ratio this term is currently her best since turning pro, but whilst she’s been overcoming weaker foes, she hasn’t taken a set off Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams in their 2013 clashes, managing to win no more than six games across two meetings with the latter.
Another straight sets defeat against one of the tour’s best performers looks on the cards for Kirilenko here and given Azarenka has won their last three meetings in under 19.5 games, that looks an outcome worth backing at 4/5.
A rivalry that began life when the two girls were pre-teens at Nick Bolletieri’s legendary Florida school, the careers of these two former world number one’s have taken divergent paths in recent years, with Jankovic unable to stay competitive at the top end of the rankings, whilst Sharapova has cemented her position as first in line to Serena Williams’ throne.
Despite the fierceness of a rivalry wrought in the tumult of adolescence, their career head-to-head at senior level looks – at first glance – to be one-sided, with Sharapova having boasted seven wins from their eight meetings.
However with three of those wins coming courtesy of retirements, just two of the other five victories were in straight sets.
Jankovic is in resilient form on the dirt, winning three three-setters on the way to the final in Charleston and she overcame Sam Stosur in the third round at Roland Garros this year from a set to love down.
Sharapova should ultimately be able to claim another victory over the Serb on her way to the semis, but Jankovic can be backed to take her to three sets for the fifth time in nine career meetings for the privilege, a correct set score that can be backed at 7/2.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.