Victoria Azarenka’s clay-court game has improved since last facing Maria Sharapova on the surface 14 months ago in Stuttgart and there is a strong possibility that she can defy underdog status to reach her first French Open final.
Azarenka has already broken new ground in reaching a first semi final at Roland Garros and is the slight outsider at 1/1 to beat Sharapova.
Being the defending French Open champion and having come through both her previous clay-court tussles with Azarenka, it is no surprise to see Sharapova as the marginal favourite at 4/5.
Given that both players are more reliant on power in comparison to the flicks and variety favoured by the likes of Sara Errani and Agnieszka Radwanska, first serves will be especially important here to gain the upper hand in a rally.
It is Azarenka that has got more than 13 per cent more first serves in than Sharapova so far in Paris and this could be significant.
Meanwhile, an interesting trend has developed across the last 10 meetings between the pair, with Sharapova winning one and then Azarenka claiming two victories, before Sharapova secures another success and so on.
With Sharapova having triumphed in the last meeting on the indoor courts of Istanbul last year, the sequence suggests that Azarenka is in line to win the next two.
Other markets it may pay to focus on for this game is Sharapova to serve the most aces and the clash to be over in two sets.
Sharapova has served the most aces in each of the last five meetings between the pair, alongside serving more aces than Azarenka in the tournament thus far.
Furthermore, Azarenka didn’t manage a single ace in her quarter-final success over Maria Kirilenko.
Therefore, the 8/13 that Sharapova serves more aces again here could prove the best bet of the semi final.
What is also noted is that of the last nine occasions the pair have stepped on court together, only once has a third set been required to find a victor.
It is 4/7 that a finalist is found between the second and third seeds in exactly two sets.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.