French Open 2017: Thursday Roland Garros Schedule and Bracket Predictions

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2017

Romania's Simona Halep celebrates after winning her tennis match against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina at the Roland Garros 2017 French Open on June 7, 2017 in Paris.  / AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG        (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
ERIC FEFERBERG/Getty Images

Thursday is women's semi-final day at Roland Garros, as a unique quartet of players seek to secure their spot in the 2017 French Open final.

In one side of the draw there is a tussle many would have anticipated, with second seed Karolina Pliskova up against third seed Simona Halep—both came through testing quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the day's other semi will be between two unfancied competitors. Remarkably, 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky is the favourite, as she will face 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko, who has a world ranking of 47. 

These clashes are always packed full of drama, with so much on line for the four women involved. Here's a look ahead to the matches on Thursday and a prediction as to who will be booking their place in Saturday's final.

       

The tournament's official Twitter account provided the schedule for Thursday:

           

Halep vs. Pliskova

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 07:  Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic plays a forehand during the women's singles quarterfinal match against Caroline Garcia of France on day eleven of the 2017 French Open at Roland Garros on June 7, 2017 in Paris, France.  (Photo
Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Given she was a set and 5-1 down in her quarter-final against Elina Svitolina, it's incredible that Halep's hopes of winning this title are still alive.

The third seed deserves immense credit for the way she clung on against Svitolina. After somehow forcing the second set into a tiebreak, she faced a match point.

As we can see here courtesy of Eurosport UK, she played it impeccably:

A fortunate net cord eventually saw Halep level the match, and from that point on she took over, bullying Svitolina around the court with some impeccable strokes to serve up a bagel. If she's at that level in this one, the Romanian is going to be difficult to stop.

Indeed, given she has previously been associated with disintegrating when the pressure is on, Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times suggested this was a huge win for the 2014 runner-up:

Pliskova cannot be allowed to build up a lead comparable to the one Svitolina squandered, though. There have been times when the second seed has looked vulnerable at this tournament, although so often she comes through on the big points, as she did in her quarter-final match against Caroline Garcia.

Still, this is the first time the Czech has made it into the last four at Roland Garros, and as impressive as she has been, clay isn't Pliskova's preferred surface. With that in mind, Halep, powered by the impetus from her comeback win, will have enough to come through this one.

Prediction: Halep in two sets

          

Ostapenko vs. Bacsinszky

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 06: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia plays a forehand shot during her match with Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, on day ten at Roland Garros on June 6, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The progression of Ostapenko has been extraordinary to watch at this tournament, as the teenager has overcome some quality opponents to make it this far.

Indeed, Olympic champion Monica Puig, former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur and ex-world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki have been unable to contain the youngster. So there's no doubt she'll approach this semi-final, on her 20th birthday, against Bacsinszky with a lot of hope.

Per the WTA Twitter account, even if she goes no further, Ostapenko has already made history at Roland Garros:

Incredibly, like Ostapenko, Bacsinszky will be celebrating her birthday on Thursday, too, but it won't be a happy one if she fails to go any further in the tournament.

Although the Swiss wouldn't have been expecting to go so far at this year's French Open, she may not get many better opportunities to make it to a Grand Slam final. She's really scrapped to get to this point as well, overcoming veteran star Venus Williams in three sets and home favourite Kristina Mladenovic in two.

The Swiss is into her second French Open semi.
The Swiss is into her second French Open semi.ERIC FEFERBERG/Getty Images

As noted by the WTA Insider Twitter account, not only do the pair share a birthday, they have frequently shared a court:

The difference in experience and previous familiarity they have with one another should make this a gripping semi-final. 

Expect Ostapenko to play with a fearlessness that's epitomised her tournament so far. Bacsinszky, meanwhile, made it this far at Roland Garros in 2015 and will draw on that experience. Having missed out the final two years ago, the latter will do everything to ensure she doesn't this time around.

Prediction: Bacsinszky in three sets

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