SERENA Williams aims for another Grand Slam on Saturday in the French Open Final. Mark Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) shares his best bets.
Serena Williams v Garbine Muguruza | Saturday 14:00 | ITV
21 times Grand Slam and three-time defending French Open champion Serena Williams enters the final with the headline being she is nursing an adductor injury, hence her big price of 1.63 – the biggest price she has been to win a tennis match since the 2012 Wimbledon semi-final against Viktoria Azarenka.
Serena isn't making too much of it. “Yeah, I have had some issues” she admitted in her post-match news conference. “But, you know, it is what it is.”
This has been evident in both her quarter and semi-final matches, hitting 43 unforced errors against Yulia Putintseva and 31 against Kiki Bertens respectively. However, it has been noticeable how Serena has managed these matches, hitting the majority of errors in set one before correcting her game with the plethora of shots available to her under the tutelage of coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
In the quarters it was 24 UEs in the 1st set, followed by 13 in the 2nd set and just six in the 3rd. On Friay against Bertens, 22 errors arrived off the racket in set one and only nine in set two.
Let's make it clear, the only person capable of beating Serena is Serena, she's won 76 of her last 80 clay court matches since returning from injury in 2011 (95%) and Mouratoglou is in no doubt about it.
“I think the only threat is Serena. I don’t think anyone can beat her, if she’s there, if she’s on, if she handles what she has to handle and has the intentions, again, that she’s supposed to have, I don’t think anyone can stop her. I’m sure 100 per cent.”
Garbine Muguruza has dropped just one set en-route to the final, although it's been a fairly comfortable run, with her highest prices being just 8/15 and 1/3.
She's struggled against big hitters on the clay this year however, losing to Madison Keys, Irena Begu and Petra Kvitova as well as Azarenka, Petkovic and Svitolina on the hard courts. It's been the same story here losing to Safarova and Sharapova in the quarter-finals the last two years.
Conversely, in 2014 she famously beat Serena here in round two 6-2 6-2, though Williams errors contributed to over half of her points. Since then Serena won both meetings last year, 2-6 6-3 6-2 in round four of the Australian Open and 6-4 6-4 in the Wimbledon final.
I'm envisaging a similar match to those two, and can't have Muguruza at the prices and the play is Williams -2.5 games at 10/11. Those more daring of you might fancy Serena 2-1 at 3/1 or the 6/1 to come back from a set deficit.
Serena said in her press conference, “The last time I played against Muguruza (Roland Garros 2014) I lost. And I hate the defeat! Let's hope she avenges that memory.
Serena Williams v Garbine Muguruza – Serena Williams -2.5 Games (10/11 William Hill)