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Madrid Open women's semi-finals preview: Stuttgart repeat on the cards

Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka are the big two in the women's game and, just like last time out in Stuttgart, the pair are on course for another title decider in Madrid.

Polish world number one Swiatek took care of Sabalenka 6-3 6-4 in Stuttgart's final and there is every chance they will renew their rivalry in the Spanish capital.

But first, Swiatek must find her way past Russian 12th seed Veronika Kudermetova, while Sabalenka has to get the better of Greek Maria Sakkari, who is the ninth seed in Madrid.

The Polish star is 2/5 to follow up her Stuttgart title win with more silverware in Madrid, with Sabalenka 11/4, Sakkari 9/1 and Kudermetova 20/1 outsider of the quartet.

Swiatek remains clay's dominant force

WhatIga Swiatek v Veronika Kudermetova
WhereClub de Tenis Chamartin, Madrid, Spain
When20:30, Thursday 4th May 2023
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, Amazon Prime
OddsIga Swiatek 1/14, Veronika Kudermetova 8/1

It was easy work for Swiatek in her quarter-final encounter as she swatted aside Petra Martic 6-0 6-3 and Kudermetova, who upset third seed Jessica Pegula in the last eight, will be hoping to put up more resistance.

However, the Russian performer must be fearing the worst against the two-time French Open champion, who is rightly considered the best female clay-court performer in the world.

The 21-year-old has lost only one of her last 26 clay-court matches, winning 21 of those contests in straight sets, and she is already on the hunt for a 14th career title.

Throw in the fact that Swiatek has won all three previous meetings with Kudermetova in straight sets, the latest of which was a 6-0 6-1 drubbing in the Doha semi-final in February, the task awaiting the Russian is a daunting one.

Swiatek, therefore, is understandably a resounding favourite at 1/14 to prevail - while she is 3/10 to win in straight sets.

Given Kudermetova has required a deciding set in winning all four of her Madrid assignments, a straight sets triumph for Swiatek looks the likely scenario with the Pole also potentially the fresher.

The best way to get involved may be considering the Warsaw ace running out a convincing victor and backing under 17.5 games at 1/1 is the punting approach.

The last two meetings between this pair have seen Swiatek win 6-0 6-1 and 6-1 6-0 and those encounters both came on a hard court, yet the gulf between the pair on clay is even greater.

Three of Swiatek's four matches in Madrid have also gone under that game total.

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Irresistible Sabalenka tough to contain

WhatMaria Sakkari v Aryna Sabalenka
WhereClub de Tenis Chamartin, Madrid, Spain
When15:00, Thursday 4th May 2023
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, Amazon Prime
OddsMaria Sakkari 11/5, Aryna Sabalenka 4/11

Since winning her maiden Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open in January, Sabalenka's form has taken off and only Sakkari stands in her way of a fifth final of the campaign.

Sabalenka was expected to struggle during the clay-court season, which is by some way her most vulnerable surface, but she impressed on her way to the final of Stuttgart last time out.

She may have been no match for Swiatek in that red dirt title decider, but in earlier rounds she found a way past former 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova and also dangerous Spaniard Paula Badosa.

Sabalenka has built on those efforts in Madrid and, although she has yet to defeat a seeded player in the Spanish capital, the Belarusian did well to come through her quarter-final clash with Mayar Sherif having lost the opening set 6-2.

The power-packed 24-year-old keeps finding a way to win and that is what makes her such a formidable opponent.

Sakkari is by some way her toughest opponent so far in Madrid, given the fact the Greek has already knocked out seeded stars Badosa and Irina-Camelia Begu.

But Sabalenka powered her way past Sakkari 6-2 6-3 in Indian Wells in March and, having lost only four of her 31 matches this year, is in irresistible form.

That makes this a real test for Sakkari, who has lost five of her eight previous meetings with the Belarusian.

Sabalenka is 4/11 to book her final ticket, but there may be a bit more interest in backing her to cover a -3.5-game handicap at 4/5.

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