Saturday, May 21, 2016

Roland Garros Preview: Time to Make the Baguettes

The battle to claim the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen is nearly upon us.

Here's a quick overview of the women's draw, quarter-by-quarter:

THE FAVORITE: #1 Serena Williams, USA
...we know that if Williams is "S-E-R-E-N-A" in Paris, she'll finally tie Steffi Graf with career major win #22. She's got a good draw, but remember that she's lost at RG to the likes of Virginie Razzano and while her last four appearances have included two titles, there are also two exits before the 3rd Round. Could the big-serving likes of a Kristyna Pliskova or Timea Babos pull a shocker in the early going this time around?
THE ALTERNATE CHOICE: #12 Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
...she's got the game for the surface, but has never been better than a quarterfinalist (in her '09 debut and '14) in Paris and has had a lackluster clay season. If she's not on her game, the suddenly-hot Katerina Siniakova might prove a challenge in Round 1.
THE THIRD WHEEL: #5 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
...Vika wants to do well in Paris, but her clay match prep has been virtually nonexistent due to her lingering back injury. If things fall her way she could face Serena in the QF, but playing her way into a deep-into-week-two clay slam result seems more a "hope" than a reality.
ENDANGERED SEED?: #18 Elina Svitolina, UKR ...she's got Justine Henin in her corner and reached the QF in Paris a year ago, but the Ukrainian's clay court game has been stuck in neutral this spring. She could get bumped off immediately by qualifier Sorana Cirstea in the 1st Round.
THE BRACKET BUSTERS: #22 Dominika Cibulkova, SVK and (WC) Taylor Townsend, USA
...Katowice champ Cibulkova has looked much like her old self on the clay, and even with three higher seeds in her path (#28 Petkovic, #12 CSN and #5 Azarenka) there's no real reason to believe that it's not realistic to think she might beat them all en route to the QF. Townsend reached the 3rd Round in Paris two years ago. She could face #18 Svitolina in the 2nd Round, and maybe #14 Ana Ivanovic in the 3rd.
THE WILD CARD: Francesca Schiavone, ITA
...does she have one more slam run in Paris in her? The Draw Gods didn't do her any favors. She'll open vs. crowd favorite (but often self-destuctive) #26 Kristina Mladenovic in the 1st Round, with the likes of Serena around the corner in a possible 3rd Rounder. But if Serena were to stumble in the first two rounds again, the draw could look crazy good for a crazy result...
..the Pastry rebounded from a poor tour-level season with a SF in Strasbourg, and she's reached the 3rd Round at RG the last two years. But she faces Schiavone in the 1st Round. We could see a record in that one for the most combined, non-Connors related attempts to stoke the crowd with fist pumps, triumphant roars and wild gesticulations.
QUALIFIERS TO WATCH: Sorana Cirstea, ROU and Katerina Siniakova, CZE
...both could pull upsets in the 1st Round. Cirstea, who reached the Round of 16 in 2009, might have a better shot against Svitolina than the young Czech will vs. CSN, though.
THE POOR SOUL: #14 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
...she reached the semifinals last year, her first such result at a slam since she won in Paris in 2008. That's not happening again. With her wedding right around the corner, a quick (distracted) exit should be expected. It might be a little much to expect wild card Oceane Dodin to send AnaIvo on her merry way in the 1st Round, but there are more legit possibilities (Nara, Allertova, Townsend, Svitolina, Cirstea -- take your pick) who could do the deed before a match-up with Serena in the Round of 16.

THE FAVORITE: #3 Angelique Kerber, GER
...mostly based on reputation, as the German hasn't been fully healthy and/or in-form since she opened the clay season with a semi in Charleston and title run in Stuttgart. Kerber has a tough 1st Round match-up with Kiki Bertens, but the Dutch woman might be more than a bit over-tired after playing so much tennis in Week 20 in Nurnberg.
THE ALTERNATE CHOICE: #8 Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
...the Swiss should have been in the RG final last year. She had Serena dead to rights in the semis until, well, Williams once again did WHAT SHE DOES. After a slow '16 start following a late '15 knee injury, Bacsinszky has been one of the better clay courters on tour as the spring has advanced (winning in Rabat, and w/ a QF in Rome). Her draw is brutal, though. She would face Bouchard/Siegemund in the 2nd Round, then maybe #31 Monica Niculescu and with Kerber or Daria Gavrilova around the corner.
THE THIRD WHEEL: Daria Gavrilova, AUS
...the Aussie might need some help, or maybe not. She's already got one second week slam run under her belt this season, and has sparked once again on the clay this spring. #15 Madison Keys and #20 Johanna Konta are in her first week path after her ranking slipped after she didn't quite match her Rome '15 SF points, knocking Gavrilova out of the seeds for Paris. She's capable of matching or bettering her Melbourne Round of 16 result, but she has little margin for error.
ENDANGERED SEED?: #29 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
...JJ can't really be expected to put up a great result here, but hopefully she can get a 1st Round win over Tatjana Maria if only to set up a 2nd Rounder vs. the equally entertaining Alize Cornet, who reached the Round of 16 a year ago.
...Siegemund has been the revelation of the clay season. Her early exit in Nurnberg should mean she isn't too tired for a possible Paris run. If she can reclaim some of the magic that got her into the Stuttgart final some big names could be made to sweat, including Genie Bouchard (1st Round) and #8 Timea Bacsinszky (2nd).
THE WILD CARD: Genie Bouchard, CAN
...Bouchard has often looked quite good in 2016, but usually right before a disappointing result. She likes the big slam stages, though, and reached the RG semis two years ago. She opens vs. Laura Siegemund, with #8 Timea Bacsinszky up after that. She notched her biggest win in two years just recently (def. Kerber), but which Genie will show up in Paris is anyone's guess.
DON'T COUNT THEIR POST-COLD WAR CHICKENS: #29 Daria Kasatkina, RUS and #15 Madison Keys, USA
...the Russian opened the clay season well in Charleston, but has been hit and miss in her results ever since. The former RG girls champ might be counted on to get through the early rounds, but is she up to taking out a healthy Kerber in the 3rd Round? Keys stunned even herself with a run to the Rome final. It's hard to shake the thought that she still doesn't yet believe Roland Garros is HER tournament to contend and she'll be brought back to that self-imposed reality in Paris (she's 3-3 at RG), giving her an early start on her grass court prep.
...the Bannerette battled her way to the Madrid semis through qualifying, and has now earned her way into the RG MD with a Q-run as the #1 seed. She'll get countrywoman Lauren Davis in the 1st Round, with possibly a compromised Venus Williams after that, then maybe JJ or Cornet. She's got real chance for a Round of 16 run here. Maybe even a round more if she's a little lucky.
THE POOR SOUL: #9 Venus Williams, USA great a story as it'd be, expecting Venus to put up a good result in Paris seems a highly unlikely fantasy. She's barely played on clay over the past year-plus, and hasn't advanced past the 2nd Round in Paris since 2010 (going a combined 2-4). But she'll fight (see her three-hour losing battle w/ Babos in Rome). If she gets past Anett Kontaveit in the 1st Round, a very intriguing 2nd Rounder vs. Louisa Chirico would have more than a few eyes sneaking a peek.

THE FAVORITE: #4 Garbine Muguruza, ESP
...last year, Muguruza reached the Wimbledon final. Two years ago, she upset Serena Williams in Paris en route to her first of back-to-back RG quarterfinals. She's been up, down, happy, petulant and sometimes dealing with injury in 2016. So add her to the list of "which version of her will we see?" players for this slam. With the likes of Serena and Kerber in the top half of the draw, Muguruza might not only be the favorite in this quarter, but also the entire bottom half of the draw. At least if she flames out in Paris we won't have to see her arguing with Sam Sumyk in the changeover area. So at least there's that.
THE ALTERNATE CHOICE: #25 Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU seems a rather high placement for a #25 seed, but the Romanian is in the midst of a career-best 18-month stretch that has seen her put up her best ever slam results in three different majors (including a 3rd Rd. in Paris), reach the Top 25, win a tour title and compile a 10-win clay court spring that included victories over Muguruza, Azarenka, Kasatkina, Bouchard and Garcia as she reached the QF in Charleston and Madrid, and the semis in Rome. Maybe she peaked too soon, but what if she didn't? She's situated in a section of the draw with some very talented but iffy characters (Vinci, Kvitova, Pliskova, Vesnina) and a quarter led by the likes of Muguruza and (maybe) Kuznetsova, who could go sour at any given moment. Begu is the current most in-form and consistent player of the whole bunch.
THE THIRD WHEEL: #13 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
...we know she CAN do it. No matter what IT is. Be IT good, or be IT bad. IT could send the Hordette packing in the 1st Round (vs. Shvedova), or IT could see her playing deep into the second week. Enter with your heart at your own risk.
ENDANGERED SEED?: #17 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
...the Czech is STILL looking for her first career Round of 16 result, and she's coming into Paris on a mediocre (Fed Cup excluded) '16 run that has nearly knocked her out of the Top 20. She'll face Shelby Rogers in the 1st Round, and if she lives to play another match it might be Elena Vesnina waiting for her next. At least Karolina stands a good chance of not seeing twin sister Kristyna outlast her in the draw (as she did at Wimbledon last year). Kristyna opens with Teliana Pereira, with Serena ready to pounce in Battle of Serves in Round 2.
THE BRACKET BUSTER: Christina McHale, USA much of this quarter seems more likely to disappoint than surge, but maybe McHale has yet another big win in her. The Bannerette has gone 20-9 since Melbourne, starring in Fed Cup and notched wins over the likes of Stosur, Pliskova, Ivanovic, Garcia and Muguruza. The win over the Spaniard came on hard court in Indian Wells, but she could get another shot at her on clay in the 2nd Round. She's 8-3 on red clay this spring. Muguruza falling out early would turn this quarter on its head.
THE WILD CARD: #10 Petra Kvitova, CZE
...yep, she's the TENTH seed in Paris, where it's easy to forget she made the semis four years ago. But this isn't Wimbledon, so one can't just give her a pass on the expectation/hope that she'll rise from her battle with mediocrity and inconsistency and suddenly be great again. Her draw is littered with pitfalls, from Danka Kovinic (1st) to Lara Arruabarrena (2nd) and Karolina Pliskova/Elena Vesnina (3rd) and so on. She COULD slip through, but her 5-3 clay court record this spring included a progressive slip (SF-3r-2r) in results with each outing. It's more likely she'll get a jump start on the grass court season than bust down any doors at Roland Garros.
DON'T COUNT HER PASTA: #7 Roberta Vinci, ITA's a legitimate question whether ANY of the five Italians in the draw will reach the 2nd Round (though Camila Giorgi seems safe vs. Alize Lim), which is hard to fathom in the only clay court slam. Vinci, 3-6 on the clay this spring, leads a potential charge of top seeds out in the opening rounds of Roland Garros just based on the form she's shown in recent weeks. Katernya Bondarenko (1st) and Annika Beck/Maryna Zanevska (2nd) seem to present Vinci with a shot to reach the middle weekend, but it's no given.
QUALIFIER TO WATCH: Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP
...the 19-year old Spaniard was the youngest RG qualifier, and she won her three Q-round matches without dropping a set. She opens with the always-an-upset-waiting to happen #24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. If she gets a win over the Russian, she could face fellow qualifier Cagla Buyukakcay (vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich) in the 2nd Round.
THE POOR SOUL: Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, SVK
...AKS just can't catch a break. She's already having a nightmarish season, and just when you might think she'd get a tiny bit lucky in a big slam draw and be able face off with a lesser-ranked player in a winnable match... well, she draws #4 Garbine Muguruza.

THE FAVORITE??: vacant
...I'm not sure there is a true "favorite" in this quarter, as I'm loathe to truly believe that Madrid champ Simona Halep really IS worthy of such a title heading into a major. And if SHE thinks she MIGHT BE a favorite to reach the semifinals, truthfully, that could pretty much sink her chances right there.
...she IS a defending finalist from 2015. But is she ready? After a bacterial infection took her down (hospitalized, actually) last fall she started her '16 late, lost her first five matches, then suddenly won five in a row to win a title in Prague. Then she suffered food poisoning and has played only three matches the last three weeks. Safarova MIGHT be the true favorite here... but we might need to see her last through the first few rounds to be sure of it. A possible 3rd Round clash with #21 Samantha Stosur (w/ a tough one vs. Misaki Doi in the 1st Rd.) could tell us all we need to know... about both of them really, as the Aussie is surely a dark horse in the quarter herself.
THE THIRD WHEEL: #2 Aga Radwanska, POL
...she's the high seed in the quarter, but has never had much luck in Paris. She's a middlin' 18-9 for her career, with just one QF. She's staring at crowd favorite Caroline Garica in a 2nd Round match, then likely #30 Barbora Strycova.
ENDANGERED SEED?: #16 Sara Errani, ITA
...yet another of the endangered Italians in this RG draw, Errani is a former RG finalist (2012) and has followed up that result with SF-QF-QF outings. But after a 3-1 semifinal stint in Charleston, she's gone 0-3 on red clay and comes into Paris looking like a shadow of her former self. Maybe she'll regain health and form at Roland Garros, but an opening round match vs. Tsvetana Pironkova could prove the death of her RG hopes. If she lives to fight another day, only bigger and better foes await. She's already been the First Seed Out in Melbourne this year, losing to Margarita Gasparyan.
THE BRACKET BUSTER: #32 Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
...the 18-year old former Wimbledon junior champ has been climbing the WTA ladder over the past year, reaching two finals (including Doha this season) and putting up SF (Katowice) and 3rd Round (Rome) clay results this spring. She's yet to make a slam breakthrough, though. Could RG provide her the platform? If she can handle Naomi Osaka in the 1st Round, she'll get the likely-tired winner of Hantuchova/Lucic, then could face #6 Simona Halep in the 3rd Round. With so many questions swirling around so many big names in this quarter, an entirely new name could emerge. Maybe it'll be "O-S-T-A-P-E-N-K-O."
THE WILD CARD: #19 Sloane Stephens, USA
...Stephens still tops the tour list with three titles in 2016, including one on the green clay of Charleston. Her results have softened on the red clay of Europe, but she's reached the Round of 16 four straight years in Paris and the potential Pick-up-Stix notion of this quarter could play in her favor. She'll have to escape Margarita Gasparyan in the 1st Round, and maybe Sabine Lisicki after that. But if the Bannerette can pick up steam and confidence, she could be worth keeping a close eye on as the middle weekend approaches.
...for all intents and purposes, this should be Halep's quarter to win. Maybe it is. But even after winning in Madrid, there are questions. She was never really tested there, and didn't face a murderers row of opponents en route to a very big title, allowing her a measure of the "radio silence" she so enjoys. Taking that title once again focused attention and put pressure on her to succeed, and she lost early in Rome on a surface closer to what she'll see in Paris. The way she shrugged off the loss as unimportant in her last RG tune-up, at least for me, left a bad taste and threw up some red flags regarding whether Madrid was an aberration and that the big-stage-crash-waiting-to-happen Halep was just lurking in the shadows ready to burst onto the scene again at Roland Garros. I hope I was wrong in that thought. But I'll have to see it to fully believe it.
QUALIFIER TO WATCH: Viktoriya Golubic, SUI
...the Swiss (Backspin's Q-rounds PoW) opens with Alison Riske in one of the rare instances in the 1st Round where you could rightly say the qualifier is the "favorite" to win on the clay. She may go no deeper in the draw that than, but that might depend on whether '15 finalist Lucie Safarova (2nd) is fully ready to defend her points from last year.
THE POOR SOUL: (Q) Daniela Hantuchova, SVK or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO
...wouldn't you know it that two of the thirtysomething stars of Week 20 will have to face off in the 1st Round, cutting down the potential early-slam great storylines by one. Hantuchova is in her 14th RG, but the 33-year old had to go through qualifying (she did it without dropping a set) for the first time to get into the MD. The former Top 5-ranked Slovak is ranked an amazing #172 at the moment. Lucic, 34, has only won two matches in Paris since 2002, but they were both last year in the midst of her remarkable comeback the last two seasons. Nineteen years after she played in the Strasbourg final in 1997, the Croat finds herself once again doing so just a day before the start of the 2016 version of RG. Part of Lucic's comeback story has included two slam upsets of Halep, at the 2014 U.S. Open in the 3rd Round and in the 2nd Round in Paris last year. Both those results could merge together here, as Lucic and Halep could meet in the 3rd Round at this Roland Garros. Hmmm, then could Halep end up being the true "Poor Soul?"

2008 Maria Sharapova (4th Rd.)
2009 Dinara Safina (RU)
2010 Serena Williams (QF)
2011 Caroline Wozniacki (3rd Rd.)
2012 Victoria Azarenka (4th Rd.)
2013 Serena Williams (W)
2014 Serena Williams (2nd Rd.)
2015 Serena Williams (W)
2016 Serena Williams

1997 U.S. Open - Venus Williams
1999 U.S. Open - Serena Williams (W)
2004 Wimbledon - Maria Sharapova (W)
2004 U.S. Open - Svetlana Kuznetsova (W)
2007 Roland Garros - Ana Ivanovic
2008 U.S. Open - Jelena Jankovic
2009 U.S. Open - Caroline Wozniacki
2010 Roland Garros - Francesca Schiavone (W)
2010 Roland Garros - Samantha Stosur
2010 Wimbledon - Vera Zvonareva
2011 Wimbledon - Petra Kvitova (W)
2012 Australian Open - Victoria Azarenka (W)
2012 Roland Garros - Sara Errani
2012 Wimbledon - Aga Radwanska
2013 Wimbledon - Sabine Lisicki
2014 Australian Open - Dominika Cibulkova
2014 Roland Garros - Simona Halep
2014 Wimbledon - Genie Bouchard
2015 Roland Garros - Lucie Safarova
2015 Wimbledon - Garbine Muguruza
2015 U.S. Open - Roberta Vinci
2016 Australian Open - Angelique Kerber (W)
NOTE: first-time finalists at 4 consecutive, and 7 of last 9 slams
NOTE: Hingis, 1997 (W)

*RG FINALS - active*
3...Serena Williams (3-0)
3...Maria Sharapova (2-1)
2...Ana Ivanovic (1-1)
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-1)
2...Francesca Schiavone (1-1)
1...Sara Errani (0-1)
1...Simona Halep (0-1)
1...Lucie Safarova (0-1)
1...Samantha Stosur (0-1)
1...Venus Williams (0-1)

2006: Henin-Hardenne (W) - Kuznetsova (RU) - Clijsters/Vaidisova
2007: Henin (W) - Ivanovic (RU) - Jankovic/Sharapova
2008: Ivanovic (W) - Safina (RU) - Jankovic/Kuznetsova
2009: Kuznetsova (W) - Safina (RU) - Stosur/Cibulkova
2010: Schiavone (W) - Stosur (RU) - Dementieva/Jankovic
2011: Li (W) - Schiavone (RU) - Bartoli/Sharapova
2012: Sharapova (W) - Errani (RU) - Kvitova/Stosur
2013: S.Williams (W) - Sharapova (RU) - Azarenka/Errani
2014: Sharapova (W) - Halep (RU) - Bouchard/Petkovic
2015: S.Williams (W) - Safarova (RU) - Bacsinszky/Ivanovic

#30...Samantha Stosur, 2009 (RU)
#28...Andrea Petkovic, 2014
#23...Timea Bacsinszky, 2015
#21...Sara Errani, 2012 (RU)
#21...Mary Pierce, 2005 (W)
#20...Dominika Cibulkova, 2009
#18...Genie Bouchard, 2014
#17...Francesca Schiavone, 2010 (W)
#16...Elena Likhovtseva, 2005
#16...Nicole Vaidisova, 2006
#13...Lucie Safarova, 2015 (RU)
#13...Dinara Safina, 2008
#11...Marion Bartoli, 2011
#10...Justine Henin, 2005 (W)

2006 Aga Radwanska/POL def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
2007 Alize Cornet/FRA def. Mariana Duque-Marino/COL
2008 Simona Halep/ROU def. Elena Bogdan/ROU
2009 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA def. Daria Gavrilova/RUS
2010 Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Ons Jabeur/TUN
2011 Ons Jabeur/TUN def. Monica Puig/PUR
2012 Annika Beck/GER def. Anna Schmiedlova/SVK
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI def. Antonia Lottner/GER
2014 Daria Kasatkina/RUS def. Ivana Jorovic/SRB
2015 Paula Badosa Gibert/ESP def. Anna Kalinskaya/RUS

[won Girls & Women's titles]
Sue Barker (1974 Jr. Champion; 1976 Women's Champion)
Jennifer Capriati (1989 Jr. Champion; 2001 Women's Champion)
Justine Henin (1997 Jr. Champion; 2003, '05-'07 Women's Champion)
Mima Jausovec (1973 Jr. Champion; 1977 Women's Champion)
Hana Mandlikova (1978 Jr. Champion; 1981 Women's Champion)
Renata Tomanova (1972 Jr. Champion; 1976 Women's RU)
Martina Hingis (1993-94 Jr. Champion; 1997/99 Women's RU)
Natasha Zvereva (1998 Jr. Champion; 1988 Women's RU)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (2001 Jr. RU; 2009 Women's Champion)
Simona Halep (2008 Jr. Champion; 2014 Women's RU)

[Open Era]
1971 Evonne Goolagong, AUS
1974 Chris Evert, USA
1976 Sue Barker, GBR
1977 Mima Jausovec, SLO
1978 Virginia Ruzici, ROU
1987 Steffi Graf, GER
1989 Arantxa Sanchez, ESP
1990 Monica Seles, YUG
1997 Iva Majoli, CRO
2003 Justine Henin, BEL
2004 Anastasia Myskina, RUS
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2010 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Li Na, CHN
NOTE: Ann Haydon-Jones won first career slam at '61 Roland Garros, before Open era began in '68

2003 Nadia Petrova
2004 Elena Dementieva (RU), Anastasia Myskina (W)
2005 Elena Likhovtseva, Nadia Petrova
2006 Svetlana Kuznetsova (RU)
2007 Maria Sharapova
2008 Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina (RU)
2009 Svetlana Kuznetsova (W), Dinara Safina (RU)
2010 Elena Dementieva
2011 Maria Sharapova
2012 Maria Sharapova (W)
2013 Maria Sharapova (RU)
2014 Maria Sharapova (W)

1969 Margaret Court
1970 Margaret Court
1973 Margaret Court
1988 Steffi Graf
1991 Monica Seles
1992 Monica Seles
2001 Jennifer Capriati
2015 Serena Williams

2012 AO: Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2012 RG: Maria Sharapova, RUS
2012 WI: Serena Williams, USA
2012 US: Serena Williams, USA
2013 AO: Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 RG: Serena Williams, USA
2013 WI: Marion Bartoli, FRA
2013 US: Serena Williams, USA
2014 AO: Li Na, CHN
2014 RG: Maria Sharapova, RUS
2014 WI: Petra Kvitova, CZE
2014 US: Serena Williams, USA
2015 AO: Serena Williams, USA
2015 RG: Serena Williams, USA
2015 WI: Serena Williams, USA
2015 US: Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2016 AO: Angelique Kerber, GER

8...Serena Williams, USA (age 30-33)
3...Martina Navratilova, USA (age 30-33)
3...Margaret Court, AUS (age 30-31)
2...Billie Jean King, USA (age 30 & 31)
2...Chris Evert, USA (age 30 & 31)
1...Flavia Pennetta, ITA (age 33)
1...Virginia Wade. GBR (age 31)
1...Ann Haydon Jones, GBR (age 30)

AO (4): 1969,1970,1974,1993
RG (1): 1992
WI (10): 1973,1976,1978,1979,1988,1992,1995,2003,2006,2009
US (1): 1975

*CAREER SLAM #1 SEEDS - active*
6...Caroline Wozniacki
4...Maria Sharapova
3...Victoria Azarenka
2...Ana Ivanovic
1...Venus Williams
1...Jelena Jankovic

A: Aniek Van Koot, NED; Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
R: Sabine Ellerbrock, GER; Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
W: - ; Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
U: Aniek Van Koot, NED; Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
A: Sabine Ellerbrock, GER; Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
R: Yui Kamiji, JPN; Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
W: - ; Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
U: Yui Kamiji, JPN; Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
A: Jiske Griffioen, NED; Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
R: Jiske Griffioen, NED; Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
W: - ; Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
U: Jordanne Whiley, GBR; Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
A: Jiske Griffioen, NED; Buis/Kamiji, NED/JPN

#1 S.Williams d. #14 Ivanovic (my true faith that the Serb will get this far: 9.9%)
#22 Cibulkova d. #5 Azarenka
#3 Kerber d. Gavrilova (the Angie & Dasha Show?)
#8 Bacsinszky d. (Q) Chirico
#25 Begu d. #10 Kvitova
#4 Muguruza d. #13 Kuznetsova
#11 Safarova d. #6 Halep
#19 Stephens d. #2 A.Radwanska

#1 S.Williams d. #22 Cibulkova
#8 Bacsinszky d. #3 Kerber
#4 Muguruza d. #25 Begu (I originally went the other way, then switch -- jinx)
#11 Safarova d. #19 Stephens

#1 S.Williams d. #8 Bacsinszky (a rematch, but w/ likely less drama than in '15)
#4 Muguruza d. #11 Safarova

#1 S.Williams d. #4 Muguruza

...would Steffi be there this time?

Artist: Paul Thurlby (2013)

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

We are of like mind, except for Halep. I have a gut feeling (is this a curse?) that she's going to pull herself together for this event. You're right, though, that it doesn't bode well that she crashed out in Rome, where the conditions are so similar to those in Paris. At least she got some down time. I do consider both Ostapenko and Doi to be unpleasant possibilities for Simona, should she get shaky. I don't think Lucic-Baroni will stick around, due to the fatique factor, but if she does--a win over her might be just what Simona needs.

Muguruza is another story--the Kvitova of the younger crowd, but without the charm and wit. Petra doesn't take herself too seriously, which is one of the reasons I can continue to believe her best days are ahead of her. Mugu is so unpredictable, and a bit dark (which is okay--it worked for Henin!), and appears to lack self-management skills. I'm reminded of Etta James, who once said she was "on the verge of a breakthrough or a breakdown." Either could occur.

Sat May 21, 02:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Great analysis as always. Top 10 picks-Edited

1.S.Williams-Picking Serena ad a favorite at a slam? To paraphrase the Geico commercial- "It's What You Do." Not as confident as usual about her, but she won a title, which means I get to trot out the stat that Graf in 1999 was the last person to have their first win of the year at the French. Also means that most of the people on this list have won a tournament.
2.Bacsinszky-She is like the old, or is it young Sharapova. Not in style, but in terms of having her body hold up for only a short while, hence Sharapova going on 15-17 match win streaks and winning majors in 04,06 and 08. Bacsinszky seems to have 3 month stretches, and started a month later than last year, so the streak should last through the French. A win here and an early exit at Wimbledon is a fair tradeoff.
3.Kvitova- She will win the French within the next 4 years. This is the enigma. I look at her play on clay and she does everything well except slide. Comes in to net, and arguably has taken the mantle from Venus as the toughest player to pass.
4.Muguruza-Unlike Kvitova, she slides well. Of the elite players, she is the most helped by not having on court coaching. The Sumyk partership overall is good, but she seems to do worse on court after their talks. Being left alone will do her come good.
5.Halep-Of the elite players, she is the most hurt by not having on court coaching. She works well with Cahill, and will need a lucky break like rain, or darkness, to regroup.
6.Stephens-Arguably the seasons best player in the weakest section of the draw. Americans on clay don't have a great record in recent times(except SW21)but in a year where things haven't happened this century, like Federer missing a slam, anything is possible.
7.Lucic-Baroni-The veteran who is always a tough out. Moves up on the list because of this week, and the fact that she is Possibly slated to face Halep in a slam again(H2H 2-0 Lucic-Baroni).
8.Begu-Never been past the 3rd round her, or the 4th at any slam. She's a little like peak Bouchard in the fact that her game seems kind of basic, but she is willing to fight. He one drawback is that her serve goes way off and lollipops that second serve in to compensate. QF is doable.
9.Lisicki- No real belief, but streaky enough to win 5-6 matches in a row.
10.Siegemund- Before the draw, I pictured her, Bouchard, don't laugh, she was the #6 seed last year, and Bacsinszky all going to the QF. Now 2 of 3 will be out by round 3. If Timea flops, this is the person I would expect to make a run-if her recurring hamstring problems dont come up.

Sat May 21, 02:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

10 I'm not picking.
1.Kerber-To put this is perspective-Djokovic won the AO 6 times and has never won the French. Federer won 4 times, but won the French in a different year. The year Nadal won the AO is the year(2009) Soderling upset him. Crazy for me to believe that Kerber will do what the future HOF's haven't.
2/3/4.Radwanska/Errani/Vinci-3 slam finalists that all need the same thing-2 weeks of hot, dry hard clay. Having to hit through wet and humid conditions will hurt them.
5/6.Azarenka/Kuznetsova- Essentially the same player with a twist. Both 2 time slam winners, and 4 time slam finalists-although Kuznetsova hasn't reached a slam SF since she won the French in 09. She is 7th in the race to Singapore, so this applies to both. Can beat anybody in the field(even Serena), but can't pick them to go past the QF because of lack of durability.
7.Konta-I actually think she will do better next year, but needs to get through Wimbledon first. She will need Murray(even though he's actually Welsh) and any other British woman to do something so she doesn't get overwhelmed. Although I do see the symbolism of Murray ending a 77 year drought on the men's side and Wade having won in 1977. But Wade never won the French, historically they havent done bad as they have won 8-the last being Sue Barker in 1976.
8.Suarez-Navarro-I used to pick her here. Then I realized that this is the place she loses winnable matches in a wide open draw. Not like her beatdowns against Serena(0-6-hasn't won more than 3 games in a set), she manages to lose 6-4 in the 3rd. Actually 15-6 in the main draw with 8 going to 3 sets.Last 4 years-the last set she played here? 7-5, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
9.Dominguez-Lino-Obviously not a threat to win, but watching her moonball and frustrate opponents obscures the fact that she really doesn't do well in slams. 32 MD, reached the 3rd round twice. If you are picking an upset, avoid her.
10.Ivanovic-You know why.

Sat May 21, 02:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, I hope I'm wrong about Halep. If she could just get over that hump, it might not be a problem ever again. That said... (see all those slam-worthy Russians who were never able to do just that)

I hope I'm right about Muguruza. I really didn't want to pick her for the final, but found myself doing it anyway. The Most Frustrating Non-Czech on the Most Interesting Tour in the World?

I was of the same mind w/ Siegemund (it's sort of why I'd picked her to win in Nurnberg). If only she'd been in a better spot in the RG draw. But, then again, maybe it won't matter and she'll get the upset(s) anyway.

Oh... Konta is going to be in a really strange place come Wimbledon, isn't she? I mean, how long has it been since there was a British woman who was a LEGIT contender? Virginia Wade's era? Robson was more of a talented "idea" than a real "hope" a few years ago. The wrist injury took away what were supposed to be the seasons where she turned the corner and became something more.

If Konta can succeed on any level (4th Rd.+) at SW19 it will say so much about her next 3-4 years.

Sat May 21, 03:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Diane-Good call on Bertens, she did make the Fed Cup play translate to the tour.

Am I allowed to rant about doubles? They may have a rule about Olympic participation, but shouldn't they actually win a match? This is about the #3 seed, the Williams Sisters. Yes, I know their singles ranking is taken into effect, but see how extreme this is. The 3 seed hasn't won a match this year, hasn't won one since the USO R16 in 2014, and is 4-5 since the USO in 2013.

Sat May 21, 04:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Thanks, colt13. I hope she keeps going--she's too good to keep all her talent in Fed Cup.

You bring up a good point about Olympic doubles. It's a peculiar situation, and one that may not ever be repeated.

Sat May 21, 09:51:00 PM EDT  

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