It's women's semi-finals day at the French Open, and Dan Weston likes the look of both favourites to progress, and one in particular...
"Kenin has had to fight to get to this stage. She’s played four deciding sets out of her five matches so far despite being favourite - and often a solid favourite - in all five previous rounds while, similar to Swiatek, Kvitova is yet to drop a set so far."
Kvitova and Kenin progress to meet this afternoon
Yesterday's French Open quarter-finals saw victories for Petra Kvitova, in straight sets over Laura Siegemund, and Sofia Kenin, who bagelled Danielle Collins in the deciding set after the American duo split the opening two sets 6-4 apiece.
Swiatak meets Podoroska in surprise semi-final
They join Iga Swiatek and qualifier Nadia Podoroska in the semi-finals, with action getting underway at a later time today with only two matches on the schedule - we are starting not before 14:00 UK time this afternoon.
In the first semi-final, Swiatek faces Podoroska in a match-up which would have been huge odds prior to the tournament. Swiatek's huge future potential has been discussed in this column numerous times over the last year or so, but it was still a long-shot that she'd have got to this stage. Podoroska, prior to this tournament, has never broken the top 130, but of course will do so following this tournament - and make significant progress beyond this as well.
Swiatek with a huge edge over qualifier Podoroska
Swiatek has yet to drop a set in her five matches and has got markedly better hold/break numbers than Podoroska, both in this tournament so far and also medium-term as well, so she looks extremely justified as a heavy market favourite to take this and progress to Saturday's final.
The current market price on Swiatek is 1.282/7, which looks a few ticks big to me. My model assessed her at 1.201/5 with Podoroska expected to hold serve less than 50% of the time against an opponent who has demonstrated exceptional ability on return both here in the last two weeks, and in her WTA career on clay so far.
A surprise to see Kenin reach this stage
I also ascertained some slight value on the market favourite in the second semi-final, with Petra Kvitova looking a little generously priced at 1.584/7 for her match with Sofia Kenin. My model had her shorter, at 1.392/5.
In truth, I'm extremely surprised to see Kenin reach this stage. Of course, she has performed superbly on hard courts - winning the Australian Open this year - but her past clay data was mediocre and she was double bagelled by Victoria Azarenka in her only clay warm-up match. Despite being the fourth seed here, I see her presence in the semi-finals as more of a shock than Swiatek.
Kvitova capable of progression while covering the game handicap
Kenin has had to fight to get to this stage. She's played four deciding sets out of her five matches so far despite being favourite - and often a solid favourite - in all five previous rounds while, similar to Swiatek, Kvitova is yet to drop a set so far.
For me, Kvitova is too big at the current market prices and we can look to get Kvitova -2.5 games in the run-up to the match. The Exchange game handicap market is still forming but we should get just shy of 1.804/5 on this in advance of the match, in line with general market pricing.
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Back Petra Kvitova -2.5 games at around 1.784/5 to beat Sofia Kenin