Andy Schooler picks out an 11/4 shot for Saturday’s French Open women’s singles final between Iga Swiatek and Sofia Kenin.
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Iga Swiatek v Sofia Kenin (1400 BST)
I didn’t predict these two players to be in the final but then no-one did, right?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised, though.
After all, the French Open saw its first unseeded champion, Jelena Ostapenko, in 2017. The following year Sloane Stephens made the final and last year it was Marketa Vondrousova who came through to face Ash Barty, who it should be remembered was not anywhere neat the top of the ante-post market.
Swiatek will be bidding to become the second unseeded champion and she starts favourite despite facing the reigning Australian Open champion and current world number seven.
Anyone who has watched her so far will understand why.
She’s totally destroyed her six opponents and they have included top seed Simona Halep, who won just three games in their last-16 clash.
Her spectacular hitting off the ground has bamboozled all-comers and she’s reached this stage losing just 23 games – a phenomenal achievement by the world number six.
Overall, she’s played better than Kenin, who has actually dropped a set in four of her six matches at Roland Garros.
But the American produced her best display so far in the semi-finals when accounting for Petra Kvitova.
It’s also worth noting her record in finals - she’s an impressive 5-1 at tour level.
Importantly, playing in a Grand Slam final isn’t a new experience for her. She beat Garbine Muguruza from a set down in January with a composed performance.
I’ve long been wary of first-time Grand Slam finalists – I’ve seen too many over the years melt on the biggest of stages. Think Sabine Lisicki when fancied in the 2013 Wimbledon final or Madison Keys at the US Open in 2017.
It’s hard to know exactly how Swiatek will react.
On the plus side, a small crowd won’t make it feel like the biggest of occasions when they are actually on court.
After her semi-final win, the teenager said she usually plays well under pressure but when speaking about the final also added: “If I don’t choke up, I think everything will be fine.”
Essentially, she knows the potential for nerves as she bids to win her first title of any sort at tour level – she’s only reached one final before.
Based only on having seen her play and talk, I’d expect her to be OK.
She has played fearless, aggressive tennis to get to this stage. She won’t ease off now.
Either the winners will keep flowing and she’ll likely win or the errors will creep in, giving the 8/5 underdog her chance.
It will be the pair’s first meeting as professionals, although they did meet at junior level at this very tournament four years ago with Swiatek winning 6-4 7-5.
Kenin was asked about that clash in her post-match press conference and made what I felt was a rather-too-honest answer.
“I remember I lost. I don’t remember how I played,” she said. “Of course, we’re both different players now. I have to figure out what she does.”
She may not have too much time to do that on court if the past fortnight is anything to go by.
Swiatek has been a fast starter in all bar her quarter-final over Martina Trevisan.
She’s won the first set in eight games or fewer in four of her six matches, including against the baffled Halep.
You can get 11/4 about this happening again, which looks tempting.
To add weight to the argument, Kenin has lost the first set twice this tournament.
This bet eliminates the potential issue of Swiatek faltering as the finish line approaches.
She’s 11/8 to win in straight sets which looks acceptable for those prepared to carry that risk.
However, in a match which looks hard to call with any conviction, I’d prefer to take the higher price.