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2018 French Open Tennis Women’s Preview By The “Rookie”

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2018 French Open Women’s Preview

 

After a dramatic and unpredictable clay-court season so far, springtime tennis on the dirt comes to the climax this upcoming fortnight at Roland Garros. With all the top stars of the women’s game back in action and in the draw, this year’s French Open should be fascinating as top seeds such as Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina try to make their maiden major dreams come true in Paris while the game’s biggest stars like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova look to reassert themselves at the top of the sport with emphatic comebacks.

 

The women’s draw has been revealed and there’s plenty of intrigue, with some loaded sections and dangerous floaters awaiting.

 

First quarter

The biggest storyline in the top quarter of the draw is top seed and two-time finalist Simona Halep’s quest to finally claim a Grand Slam title after three heartbreaking final defeats. The top-ranked Romanian has continued to evolve her game and improve her mentality, showing a fighting spirit and determination not previously seen, and last year’s runner-up has a good draw. The world number one opens against American Alison Riske, who is in the Nurnberg final this week, and the earliest seed Halep could face is French hope Kristina Mladenovic, who has struggled the last 12 months.

 

16th-seeded Belgian Elise Mertens, who made the semifinals at the last major in Melbourne, could be trouble for Halep in the round of 16, but expect the Romanian to stay on a quarterfinal collision course with French number one and seventh-seed Caroline Garcia, who opens against Ying-Ying Duan and could face Charleston champion and Madrid finalist Kiki Bertens in the fourth round.

 

Quarterfinal: Halep vs. Garcia

Semifinalist: Halep

 

Second quarter

The second quarter of the draw features some of the biggest storylines of the fortnight and some of the dangerous floaters in the draw, as 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza was handed a loaded quarter. The third-seed doesn’t get an easy start, opening against 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, but Muguruza has a clear path to the quarterfinals if she can get off to a winning start in her first match, with American Coco Vandeweghe, who has struggled on clay, possibly standing in her way in the fourth round.

 

While Muguruza was handed a difficult draw, sixth-seed Karolina Pliskova received a nightmare section, having to potentially get past Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, and then Muguruza to reach the semifinals. Pliskova and Sharapova could meet in the third round, and the two-time former champion Sharapova begins her tournament against Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp before possibly facing Donna Vekic in the second round. Pliskova’s twin sister arguably got a tougher draw as Kristyna faces three-time champion Serena Williams in the first round, with possibly 17th seed Ashleigh Barty and 11th seed Julia Goerges next for the American legend in her first Grand Slam since giving birth to her first child in September.

 

With Williams is still coming back to tennis and playing in just her third competitive tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, which she won while pregnant, it’s hard to see the 23-time Grand Slam champion having the fitness and match play to go deep on the Parisian clay, her worst major, and expect a resurgent Sharapova to keep up her impressive form from Rome and reach the last four again in Paris.

 

Quarterfinal: Muguruza vs. Sharapova

Semifinalist: Sharapova

 

Third quarter

Two of the more compelling stories of this year’s French Open lie in the third quarter as defending champion Jelena Ostapenko and fourth-seed Elina Svitolina, once again coming in as one of the favorites for her first major, look to battle for a spot in the last four. For Ostapenko, the 20 year-old Latvian will look to summon the same big-hitting, bold, and unphased approach that catapulted her from unseeded to a Grand Slam champion and she’ll begin her first ever career title defense against Kateryna Kozlova, before possibly meeting two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka, returning from the birth of her child and a custody battle, in round two. The winner of this potential blockbuster matchup would have a solid road to the quarterfinals, with the next highest seed, eighth seed Venus Williams, having struggled on clay in 2018.

 

For Svitolina, the Ukrainian couldn’t have asked for a better early draw to make the last eight than the one she was dealt as the reigning Rome champion will begin her Parisian campaign against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic. A possible second round matchup could await against 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone, who qualified into the main draw, and with big-hitters Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka the highest seeds standing in Svitolina’s path to the last eight both having struggled on clay, the fourth seed should reach a very interesting last eight showdown with Ostapenko.

 

Quarterfinal: Ostapenko vs. Svitolina

Semifinalist: Svitolina

 

Fourth quarter

The bottom quarter of the draw is led by seed by the winner of the last major, second seed Caroline Wozniacki, however the most dangerous player in this quarter is the hottest player on tour at the moment, reigning Madrid champion Petra Kvitova. Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, has put together an astounding and unprobable comeback from a knife attack in December of 2016, winning five titles since her return to tennis, right here at Roland Garros last year. While last year her second round showing was a victory for Kvitova, the big-hitting Czech will have much bigger goals this time, currently on an 11-match win streak off titles on the dirt in Prague and Madrid.

 

The eighth seed faces Veronica Cepede Royg in the first round and could face one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw, powerful Estonian Anett Kontaveit, a semifinalist in Stuttgart and Rome this spring. Defending US Open champion Sloane Stephens could meet Kvitova in the fourth round, but if the 2012 semifinalist can bring her form from the fast courts of Madrid to the slow Parisian clay, expect a deep run for Kvitova.

 

For Wozniacki, the second seed was handed a solid early draw, opening against American Danielle Collins before a possible meeting with former semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky in round two and either home hope Alize Cornet or 2012 finalist Sara Errani in the third round. 14th seed Daria Kasatkina or Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro could face Wozniacki in the fourth round, and given the Dane’s struggles on clay and at Roland Garros in the past, a deep run for the most recent Grand Slam champion from Melbourne would be surprising in Paris.

 

Quarterfinal: Kvitova vs. Suarez Navarro

Semifinalist: Kvitova

 

Predictions:

Semifinals: Halep def. Sharapova, Svitolina def. Kvitova

Final: Svitolina def. Halep

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