Only a select few will find a reason to back Sara Errani to overcome Serena Williams in the French Open semi finals and if she is to spring a major surprise, it may have to come following a heavy first-set reverse.
Given this is a semi final, it goes to show the measure of Williams’ dominance that she is as short as 1/16 to reach her first French Open final in a decade.
However, this is arguably justified as she is unbeaten in all of her 21 matches on clay in 2013, despite it regularly being considered to be her weakest surface.
The recruitment of French coach Patrick Mouratoglou has clearly played a role and in total, Williams has only been beaten three times since her surprise first-round exit at Roland Garros to Virginie Razzano 12 months ago, after which he joined her team.
Furthermore, Williams has triumphed in all five of her previous showdowns with Errani, which includes one on clay in Madrid only a few weeks ago.
The result that day was a 7-5, 6-2 victory for Williams, but in her 12 matches since on the surface, she has not dropped more than two games in the opening set.
Errani’s counter-punching game does have the potential to cause problems for the top seed and pivotal to her chances will be a strategy that prevents Williams dictating rallies with her powerful forehand from the baseline.
She will surely have learnt something from the Madrid defeat, but whether she can force a new strategy from the off, especially with the added pressure of this game, is doubtful.
Under 8.5 games in the first set looks worth siding with at 11/10, while at the French Open so far, nobody has won more than a single game off Williams in the opening set.
Therefore, the 10/1 offered in the French Open odds that Williams takes the first set 6-0 may be worth a small saver, although the 4/1 for a 6-1 Williams triumph is more likely.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.