French Open Preview, Women’s
By Ben Lilly
I wrote up a preview of the mens side already but that seems a lot easier as it revolves around really one candidate who is probably the best clay court player of all time (Alexander Zverev). He is heavily favored and the discussion centers around him. The women however are decidedly different, Serena who could be the favorite is just coming back and indications that she might not be ready to play the French and will have to work her way into form. Other than that there are a lot of contenders. On with the French Open Preview:
Serena Williams – Lets start with the greatest player of all time, in fact that is why she is on the list of favorites at all. We have not seen her in form and she could very well have an early exit if she does in fact play. However, it is just so hard to go against Serena that she is here. She has to have a light first week so she can work her way into the tournament but if she can get through that then I could definitely seeing her win another French Open Title.
Quick aside – It is ridiculous that Serena will be unseeded. She is being penalized for having a baby and the WTA and the French Open need to review their policies on this.
Simona Halep – She is playing very well and made the quarters of Madrid and then the finals of Rome. She is going to be very tough to beat and with Serena not being in form, I will take Simona as the top favorite.
Karolina Pliskova – She made the Semi’s of Madrid and and got put out of Rome in the 2nd round of Rome on an odd situation. She got robbed on one of the worst calls I have seen in professional tennis and then backed up with terrible chairing. While I agree with the fine as Pliskova cannot be threatening to the chair umpire, the chair umpire has to be accountable. How did she not see the ball? How did she not find a mark? How does she let the linesman not find a mark? The linespeople are great and make mistakes just like chair umpires but this was a very bad mistake that potentially cost Pliskova a chance to move on in the tournament. Anyways her big shots and big serve can serve her well on the clay in Paris and has a very good shot to win the tournament.
Jelena Ostapenko – The surprise 2017 French Open champion is looking to back up her title with another one in Paris. She is very young and obviously has the game to win but needs to back it up with consistent performance to be the next great player. She lost in the first round of Madrid but made the quarters of Rome. She is a fiery competitor that rises to the occasion and if she can consistently bring her A game again this year we may see her on the final day of Roland Garros.
Sloane Stephens – The 2017 US Open champion is hoping to add another Grand Slam to her cabinet but I don’t see her doing it on the red clay of Paris. She is a much better hard court player than clay courter but she has the strokes to make it happen if it all comes together. She made the third round of both Rome and Madrid.
Maria Sharapova – Can she continue her comeback tour and pull down the title of French Open Champion. She is far from the “cow on skates” that she said when asked how she felt on the clay when she was younger. She is playing well with a quarterfinal in Madrid and making the Semis in Rome. She is a very interesting player that could win the title here to prove it wasn’t just the drugs that made her good.
Petra Kvitova – Winner of the Madrid Open is looking to show she is not just good on grass. She is looking to add to her 2 Wimbledon wins and she is looking quite in form. If she gets a good draw I would not be surprised to see her holding the trophy.
Elina Svitolina – The winner of the Italian Open has quietly become quite a force. The Ukrainian has a good chance breakthrough in France. She looked great in Rome dismantling Halep in the finals and has a real chance to come through this tournament with a win.
Caroline Wozniaki – Her consistency and movement can help her win a second major this year. The Aussie Open champ will look to continue her run at Majors but her Quarterfinal at Rome and 3rd round exit at Madrid don’t make her seem like a favorite at the moment.
Dark Horse candidates:
All of them – With Ostapenko becoming the first non seeded women to with the French in like 80 years anyone could win! That being said here are some of the most likely:
Kike Bertens – Made the finals of Madrid and is playing well on clay but can she play on the big stage?
Caroline Garcia – Can the hometown favorite breakthrough with a win?
Sam Stosur – Always a tough out, but are her best days behind her?
Venus Williams – Can the champion put together enough for another Grand Slam Title?
Angelique Kerber – Can she regain her form and challenge in Paris?
Annette Konteveit – Can she build on her fourth round in Australia and making the Semis in Rome?
Madison Keys – Is she fit after she had to retire out of the Italian Open with a rib injury (https://cms.air1.com/news/2018/05/17/Madison-Keys-Withdraws-From-Italian-Open.aspx)?
This is a wide open French open with Serena not being in form and no one dominating the WTA tour at the moment. I would love to pick Serena but I don’t think she is back to championship form (despite her seeming to be in top beer pong form). I will pick Simona Halep to win the tournament as she seems to be playing very well right now.
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