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Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Serena and Maria set for a battle royal on Parisian clay

Schwartzman looks ready to win David and Goliath clash

Maria Sharapova dropped only three games in defeating Karolina Pliskova in round three in Paris
1 of 1

Fourth round
ITV4 and Eurosport 1 & 2, from 10am Monday

Williams v Sharapova
Something has to give when tennis royalty Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova clash for a place in the quarter-finals of the French Open, and the pair could be pick­ing themselves up off the floor at the end of an epic match.

Sharapova is in the form to defeat Williams for the first time since 2004, but the American fighter will be giving her all in a bid to add to her 19-2 personal series lead over the Russian.

Serena, who is sporting a black Catwoman-like outfit in her first Grand Slam since becoming a mum, dismissed Ashleigh Barty and Julia Goerges with aplomb.

However, Sharapova, who returned from a drugs ban in April 2017, has had more court time than her opponent in which to fine-tune her game. And considering she hammered Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-1 in her latest start, this is the best the Siberian has played since her comeback.

Given Sharapova's form and Williams' incredible will to win, it would not be a surprise to see the first two sets shared, so backing a three-set clash may be the way to go.

Recommendation
Over 2.5 sets
1pt 11-8 bet365


Schwartzman v Anderson
Kevin Anderson made slightly harder work of it than expected against Mischa Zverev and Diego Schwartzman, the South African's next opponent, has a big chance to dispatch the sixth seed.

Schwartzman is one of the shorter players on the ATP Tour but he's also one of the best. The Rio de Janeiro 500 Series champ has talent in abundance and while he’s far from being an out-and-out clay-courter, he's still proficient enough on the slow courts to dominate rivals.

Anderson is seldom easy to defeat, as he proved when reaching the US Open final last September and winning the Mubadala World Championship in the Abu Dhabi season-opener.

But the South African is far from unbeatable and Schwartz­­man should now possess sufficient experience and court nous to win.

Recommendation
D Schwartzman
2pts 4-5 general


Nadal v Marterer
Rafael Nadal turned 32 on Sunday and while he's still without doubt the one to beat, punters should be looking out for likely suspects who could trouble the all-conquering Spaniard.

Max Marterer could fit the bill. The German has made a seriously good impression this season and while he will probably get thrashed – Nadal will be fully aware of his opponent's growing reputation – it's still worth taking the chance that the outsider could take the game to the favourite.

Marterer can be backed with a start of 11.5 games and he could keep it closer than expected in one or maybe two sets.

Recommendation
M Marterer +11.5 games
1pt 8-11 Betfair


Kerber v Garcia
Angelique Kerber, the Australian and US Open champion in 2016, is bidding to add the French Open crown to her list of achievements and while the German is a superb match-player and fully respected, this meeting offers an opportunity for her opponent Caroline Garcia to post a homeland triumph.

The penny dropped for Garcia late last season when she won back-to-back hard-court events in Wuhan and Beijing.

The French number one has her game in good order on the Roland Garros clay and considering Garcia won their only previous meeting on a slow red court, she can make it two out of two on the terrain.

Recommendation
C Garcia
2pts 21-25 188Bet


World Cup quizzes 

Groups A & B

Groups C & D

Groups E & F

Groups G & H

Which World Cup legend are you?


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Given Sharapova's form and Williams' unbelievable will to win, it would not be a surprise to see the first two sets shared
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