Kuznetsova can make Williams graft to make French Open semis
Serena Williams has hardly broken sweat in reaching the quarter finals of the French Open and many people will fancy her heavily to become the first American since Jennifer Capriati nine years ago to reach the last four at Roland Garros.
However, Svetlana Kuznetsova will pose easily her biggest challenge so far, while the world numbers four and five meet in the other quarter final as Agnieszka Radwanska faces Sara Errani.
Williams has been swatting away opponents in her usual fashion at Roland Garros so far, dropping no more than four games in a match in seeing off Anna Tatishvili, Caroline Garcia, Sorana Cirstea and Roberta Vinci.
However, Kuznetsova will not be as intimidated in taking on the top seed as maybe some of those previous were and she has the power and variety in her game to present some problems, especially if she can get on top of the Williams second serve.
Although the pair haven’t met since 2009, in could be significant that three of their last four meetings required a deciding third set and the most recent ended 7-6, 7-5 in Williams’ favour.
Kuznetsova also won one of these meetings, which was in a French Open quarter final in 2009 en route to the title.
A repeat may be too much to expect from a player on the comeback trail after a injury-hampered 2012, but Kuznetsova can certainly provide Williams’ sternest test of the tournament so far.
This is a potentially strange selection given that Radwanska has won each of the last five meetings between the pair and that Errani had some breathing difficulties in the last round when beating Carla Suarez Navarro.
Radwanska lacks some of the power of the other big names too and so Errani is unlikely to benefit from short rallies.
However, it is worth noting that the fact that this game takes place on red clay is key, which should offer far more assistance to Errani in comparison to her last two encounters with Radwanska, where on-court conditions were arguably against her.
The last of these meetings on the quicker indoor hard courts of Istanbul last year also went to a tight third set and those conditions would certainly have been more to the world number four’s liking.
In a match that appears closer to call than the head-to-head record and betting suggests, the value definitely lies with the underdog and last year’s French Open finalist.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.