Following yet another enthralling day in Roland Garros on Day 11, Thursday's slate promises to bring even more exciting action.
While the men will return to action on Friday, they will have to give way to the women's bracket on Day 12. After favorite Serena Williams was knocked out in the second round, No. 7 Maria Sharapova has taken over the No. 1 contender role.
Sharapova is joined by three young players with a combined one semifinal in their previous Grand Slams. Eugenie Bouchard, who is facing off with Sharapova, will also be joined by Andrea Petkovic and Simona Halep, as Bank of the West Classic notes:
With the action once again kicking off on Thursday morning in the French Open, here's a look at the viewing information and a breakdown of the women's semifinal action.
Where: Roland Garros, Paris, France
When: Thursday, June 5, at 9 a.m. ET
Watch: Tennis Channel, ESPN 2 (9 a.m. - 2 p.m. ET), NBC (11 a.m. - 2 p.m. ET)
Note: Full schedule available at Roland Garros' official website.
|No. 7 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 18 Eugenie Bouchard||Tennis Channel/ESPN2||9 a.m. ET|
|No. 4 Simona Halep vs. No. 28 Andrea Petkovic||Tennis Channel/ESPN2||After prev. match|
Day 12 Breakdown
As if the road wasn't already paved for Sharapova to reach the women's final, it might have just gotten easier after Wednesday.
The Russian comes into the French Open with two consecutive finals appearances in Roland Garros. Ironically enough, now she faces two opponents that she has dominated during her career, as freelance writer Chris Skelton notes:
Sharapova is 8-1 against the other semifinalists (3-0 on clay) (only loss to Petkovic at 2011 Australian Open).— Chris Skelton (@ChrisSkelton87) June 4, 2014
Sharapova currently holds a 2-0 record against her Canadian opponent in the semifinals. One of those wins came last season in the second round of the French Open, with Sharapova winning in straight sets.
Meanwhile, Bouchard isn't the least bit concerned with Sharapova in the semifinals. Bouchard talked about facing one of her childhood idols, per Chris Chase of USA Today Sports:
We’re not friends, so there is that. Of course as a child I looked up to her and I remember watching her in the finals of Wimbledon and, you know, thought what she was doing was so cool and I wanted to do the same thing. We’re in the semis of a Grand Slam, so I’m going to respect her but not put her too high on a pedestal and really just battle.
The 2012 French Open champion might have an easier road than expected, but both women in the other semi are in uncharted territory.
Petkovic hasn't reached a quarterfinal, much less a semifinal, since 2011. That drought will end on Thursday, but the German clearly has confidence that might lead to her first ever final appearance, per Roland Garros:
Halep may be less experienced, but the Romanian has been on a tear this year. After reaching the quarterfinals in the Australian Open, Halep is still routing opponents en route to her first semifinals.
Even with her best year so far of her career, Halep has a chance of increasing her ranking. WTA Tennis notes that the Romanian can continue moving up with a win:
With so much on the line for every woman on Thursday afternoon, expect another intriguing round of play on Day 12 in the women's bracket. Whether it's the potential passing-of-the-torch moment between Sharapova and Bouchard or the inexperience of Petkovic and Halep, each match provides excitement.
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