The women's draw at the French Open has been unpredictable, to say the least. Seeds have fallen to wildcards, and going into the quarters players who just about had their noses inside the Top 30 (or Top 130) looked like bona fide contenders for a Grand Slam title. That is why possibly the most surprising thing about this women's draw is that at the semifinal stage of the tournament order has - for the most part - been restored.
The world numbers one (Azarenka), three (Radwanska) and five (Serena Williams) might be conspicuous in their absence, but we do have numbers two (Sharapova), four (Kvitova) and six (Stosur) in their place. And then there’s Sara Errani.
There are some who might have wondered who Sara Errani was going into this tournament. But then they wouldn't have been paying much attention to a player who has had an astonishing breakthrough season. Errani is, quite simply, on fire. After a quarter final at the Australian Open, Errani has taken titles in Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest - not bad for a player who has only scooped two other WTA titles in her singles career. Reaching the semis in Paris - and becoming only the second Italian woman to get that far in a Grand Slam - will make Errani the top-ranked Italian woman on Monday (she is currently number 24), ahead of Francesca Schiavone (current number 12) and Flavia Pennetta (current number 20).
Which begs the question: where has all of this come from? The truth of the matter is that Errani doesn't really know herself. Yes, she changed racquets in the winter and yes, she has been training hard, but that's all. She just seems to have found a perfect storm of form and confidence that has enabled her to blow away much higher-ranked opponents with relative ease.
Her quarterfinal against Angelique Kerber was a perfect example. Kerber is another player who has enjoyed a breakthrough season (although her form was on the up at the US Open last year), and she currently looks set for a long stay inside the world’s top ten. But Errani was simply too good. Her movement, her power and some of the shots she had the confidence to go for left the big hitting German struggling for answers. The Italian even showed plenty of guts, coming back from two set points down in the second to take the match - her first ever win over a top 10 player (after 28 previous attempts).
Oh, and did we mention that she's also in the semis of the doubles with partner Roberta Vinci (they've won five tournaments so far this year and lost in the finals of the Aussie).
In short, Sam Stosur is going to have to fight hard to reach her second French Open final. Although history is most definitely on her side. Stosur and Errani have squared off five times and Sam has won every one of their meetings. What's more, Errani is not the only one playing well at Roland Garros. Sam is having a great tournament, reaching the semis without dropping a set (the only player in the final four to do so).
What's more, she hasn't been gifted the easiest of paths to the final. Of course, Cibulkova and Stephens are not top 10 players, but both of them were playing out of their skins in Paris until they ran into the Aussie. Nadia Petrova, too, had been on the up of late, but was dispatched in a relatively straight-forward match. All in, it has the makings for an intriguing encounter.
And the other semi? There's a good chance that the WTA will have breathed a sigh of relief when Petra Kvitova put her match to bed against Yaroslava Shvedova. Not because Shvedova didn't deserve to be there - she has played some incredible tennis over this last 10 days and won the crowd over with her engaging on-court style. But because the women can boast a marquee match-up of Kvitova vs Sharapova in the semifinals, and that will go some way to redressing the erratic form of some of the top players in Paris.
It will be the fifth time that Sharapova and Kvitova have met in their careers and the second in 2012. And while Maria leads their career head-to-head 3-2, she is 2-0 in 2012 having beaten Petra in Australia and Stuttgart.
Those statistics speak volumes about both players’ respective seasons. Since the year kicked off Down Under Maria has been consistently excellent. Admittedly, she hasn't won as many titles as she could - or possibly should - have done, but that was largely due to the early season dominance of an inspired Victoria Azarenka. But while Vika's form has dipped a little Maria's has not, and if she wins on Thursday she will not only regain the world No.1 spot, but she will be into her third French final with a shot at a career Grand Slam.
Petra, however, has had a more mixed year in contrast to the blistering end to 2011 she enjoyed. Banging on the door of the world number one spot going into the Aussie, she has slipped down the pecking order to number four following a few surprising losses (most notably to Lucie Hradecka in the second round of Madrid - a tournament she won in 2011). That said, her form in Paris has been solid but she is yet to be truly tested – her highest ranked opponent so far was world No. 61 Varvara Lepchenko.
It should be an intriguing match-up. If both players 'turn up' and play to the best of their ability, the crowd on Philippe Chatrier will enjoy some of the most explosive tennis in the women's game. However, both are prone to the occasional mental wobble, with either player easily good enough to exploit the weaknesses of the other. Like Stosur versus Errani - but for very different reasons - it should be a fascinating match.