Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will contest the first of the 2014 Roland Garros semi-finals on Thursday. It’s a match-up that is likely to thrill Stacy Allaster as the Bouchard bandwagon keeps on moving forward with full force. Sharapova was first to confirm her place in the semi-finals with a 1-6 7-5 6-1 victory over Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals. It was another really tough match for Maria, who took a set and a half to find her rhythm. Maria served up seven double faults in the first two sets and was frequently troubled by the depth of Muguruza’s strokes. Sharapova was one game from perishing at this tournament; however if you can bet on anyone to tough it out, Maria is where your money should be.
Sharapova levelled up in the second set and then won a 12-minute game in the third set, which opened the flood gates. Sharapova raced through the next four, much in similar vein to how she trounced Sam Stosur in the deciding set of their fourth round match. Bouchard is still stepping on relatively new ground having reached her first Grand Slam semi-final in Australia. She backed up her upset of Angelique Kerber in the fourth round with another stirring win, 7-6(4) 2-6 7-5 over Carla Suarez Navarro in two hours and 22 minutes. Bouchard was rewarded for her aggression and willingness to go for winners against CSN, who was too passive at the end. This match also highlighted what a great game player Genie is. She was understandably nervous at the end, double faulting on one match point, but got the job done in the end. It is her mentality that sets her apart from many of the other rising stars on the WTA.
I’ve always felt Bouchard is going to be the next Sharapova, particularly off the court in terms of the massive endorsements she will gain in the coming years. This will be be a tremendously hyped match in the media. The pair have played twice before on the WTA tour with Sharapova winning both matches in straight sets. Their last match came in the second round of Roland Garros last year where Sharapova won 6-2 6-4. Bouchard has been brilliant this week; however I don’t believe this is a great match-up for her. Sharapova is just a little bit better at everything right now and I don’t think she has enough power and consistency in her strokes to hurt the Russian.
Prediction: Sharapova d. Bouchard in 2 tight sets