Maria Sharapova can write her name into the history books by beating Sara Errani in the final of the 2012 French Open on Saturday. Paddy Power are refunding all losing bets on the 2012 French Open final between Maria Sharapova and Sara Errani if there is a 6-0 set in the match.
Maria Sharapova has had an eventful career and it is difficult to believe that she is still only 25 years old. The Russian, who won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2004, when aged just 17, looked set to become one of the all-time greats but persistent shoulder injuries meant that she has not made as much of her career as some expected.
However, it is testament to the Russian that she came back from 10 months out of tennis in 2009 and fought her way back up the world rankings from 126th to now stand on the verge of a fourth Grand Slam title. It is, however, not just a fourth major title that is at stake for Sharapova when she takes on Sara Errani in the final of the French Open on Sunday but also THE fourth title. A win at Roland Garros would mean that she would become only the 10th player in tennis history to complete the 'career Slam' of French Open, Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon titles.
It is 2/7 at Ladbrokes
that Sharapova beats Errani on Philippe Chatrier and there are few that would say that those odds are wrong. The Russian has been fantastic throughout the French Open and has only lost one set en route to the final, with the likes of Kaia Kanepi and Petra Kvitova swatted away with a minimum of fuss.
By contrast, Errani, who is 10/3 with Stan James
to win on Saturday, has never played in a Grand Slam final and before this week her best performance at Roland Garros was an appearance in the second round in 2011. She is the same age as Sharapova yet has only won a total of five titles, none of which were even in Premier events.
However, the Italian has shown grit and determination in Paris and she deserves her place in the final. She battled through to beat Sam Stosur in the semi finals and that win will have given her the confidence needed to mix it up against top ten players.
Unfortunately, that confidence is unlikely to be enough to beat Sharapova. The Russian, who will move to the top of the world rankings next week, possesses such a strong will to win that she could end up blowing Errani off the court on Saturday. Stosur let the Italian back in after winning the second set 6-1 and Ana Ivanovic did the same after taking the opening set 6-1 against the world number 24. Sharapova is capable of having a similar set against Errani but she won't make the same mistakes as either Stosur or Ivanovic. Expect a comfortable win by more than five games, at odds of 5/6 with Blue Square
Match Handicap (-4.5 Games) - Maria Sharapova (5/6, Blue Square