The semi-final line-up in the women’s draw in many ways continued its unpredictable trend, but some of the main contenders at the business end of majors have still made meaningful strides deep in the draw once again. One of the main contenders at the beginning of the fortnight was No.3 seed and 2014 Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep. She has found her happy place of stability now that she has paired up with experienced coach Darren Cahill and is the favourite for the title on Saturday. The sensational win over Elina Svitolina in the Quarter-Final, where she saved a match point and won from 3-6, 1-5 down, was one of the tournament’s greatest ever comebacks and it could be the defining moment of this Grand Slam if Halep was to prevail victorious with the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen trophy.
Karolina Pliskova certainly will have something to say about that. Clay is not her ideal choice of surface, but she has the unbelievable range of power off both sides to hit through near-enough any opponent, which makes her a problematic opponent for many. The semi-final showing at this year’s Roland Garros is a welcome sign of progress for Pliskova, who does not expect a great amount when playing on this surface. The match will mean a lot for Pliskova as a victory puts her at the top of the WTA rankings for the first time in her career, so this semi-final has a lot at stake for both women, especially when you consider the opportunity that Halep has to finally get over the line at this level.
Halep’s attention to detail in regards to her footwork around the ball should prove difficult for Pliskova to handle on this surface. On a hard court, it becomes more of an equaliser, but Pliskova does not have the natural slide on the clay like Halep does and that makes a huge difference. I expect Halep to be buoyed from the win over Svitolina and to manoeuvre her opponent around the baseline at will.
Prediction: Halep in two sets.
Jelena Ostapenko vs Timea Bacsinszky  H2H: First meeting
Timea Bacsinszky features in her second Roland-Garros semi-final in three years, proving that her 2015 semi-final showing was no one-off result. The Swiss woman has shown time after time that she is a difficult proposition on this surface and her counter-punching style is hard to overcome for many of the greater power players on the tour. Bacsinszky’s year has not been the greatest, but she rediscovered her form these last two weeks by beating the likes of Venus Williams and Kristina Mladenovic – two players that both strike with brutal power.
In the semi-final Bacsinszky faces Latvian Jelena Ostapenko. Ostapenko has a technically-beautiful backhand, but possesses tremendous power off both sides. She commanded her Quarter-Final match against the more-experienced Caroline Wozniacki and will be looking at a first major semi-final with extreme confidence because of her impressive clay court season.
I think Bacsinszky will edge this match. Her forehand can break down under pressure, but the unrelenting speed she can generate off the backhand can catch many players off guard. The fact she is playing her second major semi-final makes a big difference in handling the situation, the crowd and the expectation.
Prediction: Bacsinszky in two sets
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