Maria Sharapova has three Grand Slam titles from three out of the four Grand Slams of the year. She won the Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006, and the Australian Open in 2008. The only Grand Slam missing from her trophy case is the French Open.
The newly-minted world number 1 has a chance to add that to her collection when she goes up against 21 seed Sara Errani in the Women’s Finals of the 2012 French Open.
Entering the tournament, the 2 seed Sharapova was considered as one of the favorites to win the title, getting 6/1 pre-tournament odds, behind only Serena Willliams’ 5/2 odds. Williams, of course, flamed out early, losing disastrously in the first round to…Virginie Razzano?
In any case, the tournament has become Sharapova’s to lose, and to her credit, the long-legged hottie has been up to the task, breezing through the tournament and winning five of her six matches in straight sets.
On the flip side, Sara Errani is far from a household name and we’ll admit to not knowing much about her too. We do know that she’s won five WTA titles in her career and even advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Australian Open, losing to Petra Kvitova, the same woman Sharapova easily disposed of in their French Open semis match. She’s also Italian, she stands 5’5″…and…that’s about it.
But for her relative anonymity before the French Open, Errani has done nothing but stake her claim as one of the up-and-coming tennis players in the world today. We found that before this tournament, Errani has won as many matches against women ranked in the top 10 (0-28) as I have. In Rolland Garros, the Italian beat no.10 Angelique Kerber in the Q’s, no.6 Sam Stosur in the semis, and before those two conquests, she also eliminated the 2008 and 2009 champions, Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Quite an impressive run.
Clearly, Errani poses a serious threat to Sharapova’s quest for the French Open title despite the line bookmakers have given her. For the Finals, Errani is a 3/1 underdog to upset Sharapova, who as favorite, has been given 1/4 odds.
The Italian has been the prohibitive underdog in her past two matches, and she won both of those contests convincingly. The question now is if she can make it three out of three.
In the end, though, we’re going back to what we said about Sharapova before the tournament started: she’s peaking at the right time. We won’t be shocked by an Errani upset by any means, but we’re more confident in our belief that the new world number one is playing some of her best tennis in her career and that should be enough for her to complete her own Grand Slam trophy collection.
And no, The Machine isn’t part of that collection.