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Saturday, 7 June 2014

French Open Day 14 Picks 2014- Women's Final: Maria Sharapova v Simona Halep (June 7th)

Maria Sharapova win 2-1 v Simona Halep: The women's Final at the French Open will be contested by Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep and it will be interesting to see whether the latter can hold her nerves to win her maiden Grand Slam. That is in stark contrast to Maria Sharapova who has won  four Grand Slam titles, but is yet to win two anywhere, and is playing in her third straight Final at Roland Garros.

It would be a huge surprise to see Sharapova's personal record show that she has won more French Open titles compared with any other Major considering her game and movement always seemed better suited to the faster surfaces. Once describing herself as a 'cow on ice' when it came to the clay courts, Sharapova has certainly found a love affair with the surface over the last three years.

That experience could prove to be vital against Simona Halep who has had a wonderful tournament and held her nerves together in the Semi Final. However, that came against Andrea Petkovic who also was competing in her first Grand Slam Semi Final and the nerves are only going to be even more frayed by the time this match gets underway for the Romanian.

The last twelve months have shown the vast improvement in Halep's game, but confidence has also been a real factor as the momentum has built in that time and she has exceeded her previous best Grand Slam result from the Australian Open back in January.

Halep has strong groundstrokes, but her serve can be a little vulnerable, and she is going to have to use her extra speed to try and make sure Sharapova feels the court is smaller than usual. She also has to dictate the play and keep Sharapova on the move to prevent the Russian from taking control and using her heavy groundstrokes to keep Halep on the run, especially as Sharapova has the consistency to eventually win those points.

The serve can be a little erratic at times and that is why I believe we will see a competitive Final and are unlikely to have a winner without a deciding set to be played. As we saw when the players met in Madrid, Halep can certainly break the Sharapova serve, but her own is very vulnerable and the latter is one of the best fighters on the Tour and will never give up as she has shown in the last three Rounds.

All of those matches have seen Sharapova come from a set down to win the match and there is every chance that Halep is going to have enough adrenaline to come out and take the first set as she did against Sharapova in Madrid. While you can never guess how a player will respond to their first Final, Halep has been in control of her emotions through the entire tournament and she has enough from the ground to take a set off of Sharapova.

Then again, Sharapova will have to deal with own nerves to get back into this match as she will have the chance to win her second title at the same Grand Slam for the first time- she has shown an ability to make the adjustments needed within a match to turn things around and I think the added experience of winning big titles would see her through in the final set decider if the match gets to that stage.

Some might be keen to get on Sharapova to win the match after losing the first set which looks a big price, but I am simply looking for the four time Slam winner to win a match that goes the distance.

MY PICKS: Maria Sharapova win 2-1 @ 4.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

French Open Update: 28-26, + 4.38 Units (105 Units Staked, + 4.17% Yield)

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