French Open 2017 Preview – Women’s Singles

This year’s women’s draw is one of the most open Grand Slam tournaments that I can recall in recent history. Serena Williams is the most notable absentee from the tournament, which potentially opens things up for a number of other competitors. Just a fortnight ago, Maria Sharapova was favourite with the bookies before she was sensationally denied a wildcard entry into this year’s event.

As such, at this year’s event there are a handful of players who can realistically take home the title and we could well have a first-time major winner. Let’s have a look at some of the top competitors…

 

The Top Seeds

  1. Angelique Kerber (GER) – Has returned to the number 1 ranking after losing it post the Australian Open but this is arguably due to the absence of Serena Williams. Doesn’t have a great record at Roland Garros and her form this year is certainly not as good as it was last year. Still not without a chance and the top seeding helps her.
  2. Karolína Plíšková (CZE) – Has rocketed into grand slam contention on the back of a brilliant season last year. However she does not have a good record at the French Open and the slow courts don’t particularly suit her power game. Her footwork can also be her achilles heel at times and that may not help her cause on the clay.
  3. Simona Halep (ROM) – The 2014 finalist, arguably has the best chance of claiming her first grand slam victory right here. I believe this surface really suits her game and she firms as a big chance to take out the title.
  4. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) – The defending champion crucially takes the final top 4 seeding with the absence of Serena Williams. Prior to last year she made two straight quarter-finals here so she has had good success even prior to last year. Grew up in Venezuela no doubt playing a lot of her junior tennis on clay so these courts definitely suit her. Huge chance of going back-to-back but has a tough match first up against 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone.
  5. Elina Svitolina (UKR) – Has a reasonable record at Roland Garros (fourth round last year and quarter-finalist in 2015) and with some of the absentees, she could go deep into the tournament. Produces her best tennis on Clay and has had a strong season so far. One to watch.
  6. Dominika Cibulková (SVK) – Showed a return to form last year and has been playing some consistent tennis so far this season. Made the semis here back in 2009 and the quarters in 2012. Also is a grand slam finalist (Australian Open 2014) so knows what it takes to contend in the second week of a major.
  7. Johanna Konta (GBR) – Clay is probably Konta’s weakest surface. She has never progressed past the first round at the French Open. However she did make the final of the Rome Masters just last week and brings some promising form to this year’s tournament. The crucial 7th seeding gives her a good chance of getting to the second week.
  8. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) – Former Champion here at Roland Garros back in 2009. Kuznetsova has been playing consistent tennis now for the past few seasons and has a great record here on clay. Is definitely an outside chance of repeating her 2009 heroics.
  9. Agnieszka Radwańska (POL) – Has dropped down the rankings this year as a result of injury. Missed both the Madrid and Rome lead-up tournaments and I think she might be a bit underdone this year, especially on a surface that requires supreme fitness.
  10. Venus Williams (USA) – Won the lead up tournament in Rome. Continues to defy her age and play great tennis. Has been OK at the French Open in recent years but had some very good results over a decade ago. Certainly an outside chance.

Top Aussies

Sam Stosur – Seeded 23rd this year and generally performs well on clay. Was a semi-finalist here last year and narrowly missed out on the title in 2009. Is in good form and feels comfortable on this surface. The open draw this year along with her form leading into the tournament give her a good chance of at least making the second week.

Daria Gavrilova – Right on Stosur’s tail and is the 24th seed this year. Also has some good form leading into the tournament. Would be surprised if she doesn’t record her best result at the French Open this year. Her previous best was the second round in 2015.

 

My Tips

Winner: Garbiñe Muguruza

She beat the best last year to take the title and has an even clearer run to the title this year. Enjoys playing on the clay and knows what it takes to win at Roland Garros. My tip to go back-to back.

Runner-up: Simona Halep

Has a good record here at Roland Garros and think she is a big chance of going all the way to take out the title. I just think that Muguruza might be too strong for her should they meet in a final.

Dark Horse: Svetlana Kuznetsova

Kuznetsova continues to remain a contender at the top level of the women’s game. She has had a great start to the year and has historically performed extremely well at the French Open. With this year’s draw being wide open, I think it gives Kuznetsova her best chance of winning a major in almost a decade.

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