Aryna Sabalenka vs Karolina Muchova French Open Odds, Pick | Expert Preview
Quality Sport Images/Getty. Pictured Karolina Muchova.
Sabalenka vs Muchova Odds
|Over/Under||20.5 (-116 / -116)|
|Time | How to Watch||Thursday, 9 a.m. ET | Tennis Channel|
|Odds via FanDuel. For tips on how to watch the French Open, click here.|
Sabalenka is marching through the draw, but how will she fare against Karolina Muchova's excellent shot-making and variety in the French Open semifinals?
Read on for my preview below!
Sabalenka Playing With Extreme Aggression
Sabalenka beat Svitolina 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. She won 67% of her service points, getting broken just once. The Belarusian also won 48% of her second-serve returns and broke on three occasions.
She was very aggressive from the baseline, hitting 30 winners versus 37 unforced errors. Sabalenka is clearly not very worried about control, as she's going with full-out aggression from the baseline and is trying to just blast through her opponents. When she's able to land her groundstrokes, it's very tough for her opponents to handle.
Despite it not being her best surface, Sabalenka is 14-2 this year on clay. But, nine of those wins came during her runs to the Madrid title (altitude clay) and Stuttgart final (indoor clay). These quicker conditions make it easier for Sabalenka to impose her power game on clay.
In addition, Sabalenka does have a solid 68-42 career-record on the dirt.
Sabalenka's first serve is a huge part of her success. She is top-five this season on the WTA Tour in the following service categories: aces, percentage of first-serve points won, service points won and service games won. But, the clay does de-emphasize her serve, as the slower surface makes it harder for her to gain an edge when serving.
The Belarusian plays with power from both wings, although she prefers her forehand. Her movement and defensive skills, though, are not strengths, so if a player is able to wrestle control of the baseline and keep Sabalenka moving, it can be an effective strategy.
It's worth noting that Sabalenka does have a lot of confidence in these big events, having won Madrid and more importantly, this year's Australian Open. That belief in herself is very important when things get tight.
Muchova Continues to Impress
Muchova took down Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals. She won 67% of her service points and was only broken twice. The Czech also won 50% of her return points, breaking on five occasions.
She played a fairly clean match, hitting 21 winners versus 15 unforced errors. The Czech is playing with controlled aggression, hitting with pace into small targets. In addition, she's returning well, having won at least 45% of her first-serve returns in her last three matches.
While Muchova has power, the Czech also spreads the court effectively and mixes things up so well with her variety. Muchova's backhand slice that cuts through the court and she has excellent touch. In addition, Muchova's net game is strong and she has the tactical awareness of the right times to come to net to put away volleys.
Typically, players who emphasize variety as much as Muchova are weaker on clay, but the Czech is showing that she can adapt her game successfully. Muchova is 9-2 in 2023 and 109-55 as a professional on the surface. Her combination of foot speed and consistent depth have contributed to her success on clay. She's been very patient, waiting for the right moment to strike.
And while I worried about how Muchova would face against a power player in Pavlyuchenkova who could have disrupted her baseline rhythm, the slower conditions actually helped the Czech in absorbing Pavlyuchenkova's pace effectively.
Sabalenka vs Muchova Pick
While Sabalenka has rolled through the draw on paper, her ultra-aggressive style leaves her vulnerable if she's slightly more "off" from the ground.
Muchova's variety and more placement-minded shot selection will present a different challenge for Sabalenka, compared to the more linear styles of a player like Svitolina, where the Belarusian knew what ball was headed her way.
Sabalenka is going to have to dig out slices, which make it harder to play with power. And, as Muchova demonstrated against Pavlyuchenkova, she is blunting power at a high level right now and it's hard to push her around.
Muchova can also drag Sabalenka off of the baseline with the drop shots and with how effectively she spreads the court.
While most of Sabalenka's Roland Garros opponents were hoping for the Belarusian's errors, Muchova has the game to draw out errors from the Belarusian herself and take control of points, putting Sabalenka on the defensive. This would make Sabalenka much more uncomfortable than hitting unforced errors while dictating play.
Pick: Muchova +4.5 games (-108)