The champ, Francesca Schiavone (above).

Ladies Semi-finals Odds (Thursday, 9:30 AM, EST)

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Na Li:  + 170

Maria Sharapova:  – 210

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Marion Bartoli:  + 145

Francesca Schiavone:  – 170

We love Schiavone.  And how rare to have a two handed player, forehand and backhand, versus a one-hander on the women’s side.  Schiavone goes for her 13th consecutive win at Roland Garros, where she has developed the “it” factor.  Her intangible qualities far outnumber Bartoli’s, who is probably going to be the home town favorite.  Though it is hard to imagine the crowd taking to someone more than they have to Schiavone.  As for the match, the slow clay is to Bartoli’s advantage.  It gives her more time to change her stupid, gangly double fisted hack grips.  And she’s well conditioned, for her.  We’re grateful to her for upsetting Justine Henin at Wimbledon once upon a time, giving Venus a virtual walk in the championship.

We’re wrong all the time, but we can’t see the ultra fit Schiavone losing this match.  Maybe she loses to an ultra jacked up Sharapova in the final, or some other storyline plays out, but we like Schiavone to be in the final on Saturday morning.  As for the prop betting, Schiavone is favored to win in 2 sets (+ 125/ + 275) and 3 sets (+ 250/ + 350).  If anyone has a bit of lag from Tuesday’s tight 3 setters, we’re betting it’s Bartoli, who may have chased off some of the baby fat, as she is known to do from time to time, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to beat a far more tested and conditioned player in Schiavone, who is just a natural on the clay.

As for the other match tomorrow, Sharapova is still standing, and while we knew she’d flatten Petkovic, we are really surprised that Azarenka couldn’t do the job.  Not that Li Na is any slouch.  She’s super well conditioned, and a very tough cookie indeed.  Standing up to the Chinese Tennis Federation took great guts, and worked out well for her to boot.  But neither player is a clay courter, and we could see picking Sharapova here, which is the sexy pick.  We’d be surprised though, if we weren’t surprised in some way by this match tomorrow, though we’ll stop short of picking Li.  Li has won the last 2 matchups in straights, on grass, and interestingly enough, Sharapova won the last matchup on clay, here at the French in 2009, and it was a shaky shoulder Sharapova.  Li does seem to have improved, as did Sharapova, from her 2009 form.  Keep in mind the better mover on clay usually wins.  That’s all we’ll say.

As for the men Friday:

Rafael Nadal:  – 575

Andy Murray:  + 425

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Roger Federer:  + 240

Novak Djokovic:  – 300

We’ll keep an eye on these lines, which we can see moving quite a bit.  Especially Nadal’s line.  We won’t say much, but we’ll say this: we told you not to count out Andy Murray.  BTW, could you believe those quotes from Rafa about not expecting to win, and not enjoying the game, that it’s been too much work?  Didn’t we hear the same from Borg and Wilander, once upon a time?  Such is the life of a grinder, and we’ve been saying Nadal would max out at 24, but that said, we wouldn’t be surprised if he is biting trophy Sunday.  In fact, there is no outcome on the men’s side that could surprise us.

All four guys would make worthy champions, and 2 already have.  We’ll get you the odds changes as they come.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)