Sunday 25 February 2018

French Open: Sharapova Sponsors' choice

For the second year running, women's tennis has a strong vested interest in the French Open final.

Last year, the sponsorship gurus were rooting for Li Na, who obliged with a 6-4, 7-6 victory over Francesca Schiavone of Italy, to open up the Chinese market dramatically.

Today, there will be a few fingers crossed that Maria Sharapova does not freeze in her first final at Roland Garros. The glamorous Russian is by far the most marketable star on the women's tour. If she lost to Sara Errani, it could cost the sport millions.

Sharapova is already guaranteed to be the new world No 1 when the rankings are released on Monday. But that did not exactly mean much when Caroline Wozniacki stood on top of the ladder. No, major titles are the best way to attract attention, both from consumers, the businesses and TV channels who pursue them.

The 5ft 4in Errani came into the tournament ranked 24 in the world, and with little but a quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open to show on her CV. She has nothing to lose today and may play accordingly.

French Open, women's final

Live, Setanta Ireland, 2.0

Irish Independent

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