Saturday at Roland Garros sees the women's singles final take place, and with a final which very few people would have predicted, Barbora Krejcikova meets Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Dan Weston previews the final...
"On clay this year, Krejcikova has won just over 2% more service points, while Pavlyuchenkova has a slightly lesser edge on return points won, so Krejcikova’s status as that slight favourite looks pretty justified."
Finalists making first Grand Slam final appearances
With all four semi-finalists on Thursday having never made that stage in a Grand Slam tournament, we were always going to get two new finalists on Saturday for the final. One player is going to make history, and while sometimes you get a Grand Slam winner as an outsider, they are usually young players such as Jelena Ostapenko and Iga Swiatek in recent years. However, Krejcikova and Pavlyuchenkova are aged 25 and 29 respectively, and both were ranked outside the top 30 in the world rankings prior to the tournament.
If you could predict this final in advance of the tournament, then you might want to buy a lottery ticket as well.
Krecjikova now with 11 wins in a row
Krejcikova did perform well, however, in some of the clay warm-up events, winning in Strasbourg the week before the French Open, so she has now won 11 matches in a row. She also pushed the pre-tournament favourite Iga Swiatek in the Rome Premier, losing 6-3 6-7 5-7, so she clearly is playing extremely well on her preferred surface. She has an excellent pedigree at the lower ITF level on the surface, though, and is the market favourite at 1.855/6 at the time of writing.
Despite getting to the semi-finals in the Madrid Premier at the start of May, Pavlyuchenkova wasn't anticipated to be a major threat by the outright market. She withdrew from the Rome Premier with an abdominal injury and was priced at almost 5.04/1 for her third round match with Aryna Sabalenka, who she was easily beaten by in Rome. However, Pavlyuchenkova got revenge for that loss, and then has subsequently beaten Victoria Azarenka, Elena Rybakina and Tamara Zidansek to get to the final.
Both players have needed to negotiate a 9-7 final set in an epic clash. Pavlyuchenkova did this in the quarter-final against Elena Rybakina, in a match lasting just over two and a half hours, while Krejcikova needing in excess of three hours to get the better of Sakkari on Thursday.
Krejcikova a marginal favourite to lift the trophy
After that build-up, readers may be hoping for an opinion on which player represents some value. However, my model agrees with the market and also makes Krejcikova a slight favourite to be celebrating with the trophy on Saturday evening, albeit a little shorter than the market has priced up currently. On clay this year, Krejcikova has won just over 2% more service points, while Pavlyuchenkova has a slightly lesser edge on return points won, so Krejcikova's status as that slight favourite looks pretty justified.
Whatever happens on Saturday, how fantastic is it to see two players competing in a Grand Slam final for the first time. With the women's tour somewhat more competitive than the men's, it produces this great dynamic and a competitive final which the market is finding it difficult to split the duo.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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