Thursday, May 24, 2018

RG Preview: The Most Interesting Major of the Year?

Could The Most Interesting Tour in the World be about to take part in The Most Interesting Major of the Year?

After most of the last year (two, really) the women's singles draws at the four biggest events of the season have been missing some of the sport's most famous and accomplished names. While that was happening, six different women won the last six major titles, with three of the last four giving rise to maiden slam champs. In the past seventeen months, six women (two of them still slam-less) have held the #1 ranking, while a handful of others have become the most celebrated tennis players in their nation's history simply by climbing into the Top 10. Over a longer stretch, eighteen of the last nineteen majors (and 19 of 21) have produced first-time slam semifinalists. Since the start of 2017, we've seen the oldest women's slam winner of the Open era, as well as the youngest in over a decade.

So, with that backdrop, the 2018 version of Roland Garros has a dance card/main draw filled to the brim, not only with all of the aforementioned and formerly absent big names but also with a bushel of stories set to heartily compete with one another both inside and outside the lines of the court.

The clay court season has played out like an extended audition process to fill all the roles of favorites, contenders, dark horses and floating headhunters for the season's second slam.

While the loudest drumbeat of praise this spring has been filled with barks of "Pojd!" and utterances of "Petra, Petra, Petra...," the comeback of a much-loved Czech named Kvitova (w/ back-to-back-clay titles) hasn't cast her as the *only* woman this season looking ready for an award-worthy performance in Paris. Kiki Bertens ('16 SF), Elise Mertens ('18 AO SF and two-time clay champ this year) and Karolina Pliskova ('17 RG SF) have all put together multi-event clay court runs in recent weeks that mark *them* as being prominent actors in the improvisational free-for-all about to occur on the terre battue, as well.

And then, in the last big non-slam event of the clay court season, Elina Svitolina, who has shown an ability to win big everywhere BUT in the majors, went to Rome and defended her singles title, defeating Simona Halep, the same player who'd staged a miraculous comeback against the Ukrainian in last year's RG quarterfinals.

Oh, yeah. Her.



Halep, a two time RG finalist and already a runner-up at one slam in '18 (to Caroline Wozniacki, who ended her own long slam-less existence), comes to Paris as the world #1 despite winning just one small title over a twelve-month period in which she's struggled (often successfully) to overcome her own well-constructed mental hurdles. She's managed to grow amid the whole process even while seeming to specialize in coming up *just* short of many her goals, yet still being celebrated as a much-respected competitor/runner-up. The Romanian, thirty-two slams into her career and still seeking her maiden slam crown, will see her every outing in Paris laced with the undertones of what she's yet to accomplish, and whether this major will finally end with a sense of emotional relief not seen since the late Jana Novotna overcame a career's worth of frustration one afternoon at Wimbledon twenty years ago this summer.

Of course Halep seemed on the verse of fulfilling her quest at LAST year's Roland Garros, only to be sideswiped by Latvian Thunder in the final.

Oh, yeah. There's her, too.



Alona Ostapenko, who didn't turn 20 until the day before last year's final, proved that the extended waits of the likes of Halep and Svitolina need not be the prevailing template for a tour-level player. When she ended her winner-blasting fortnight in Paris -- where she became the first woman in thirty-eight years to make her first career title a major championship, was crowned the first Latvian slam winner as well as being the youngest RG winner since 1997 and the youngest at any major since '06, the first unseeded player to win in Paris since 1933 and the lowest-ranked (#47) since the WTA computer rankings becan in 1975 -- the landscape for a slam title run had a shiny new Generation PDQ success story for the NextGen to aim to replicate.

Who might be up for taking a run at such a thing? Dasha Kasatkina and Anett Kontaveit have proven to possess an ability to reel off multiple Top 10 wins in a short period of time when they're in a groove. Even Aryna Sabalenka, not exactly known for her clay court prowess, can't be discounted. Like Ostapenko, who wasn't expected to be a big threat on the clay at this time a year ago, she's armed with a powerful game that can produce winners all day long even if inconsistency sometimes bedevils her efforts. The Belarusian has reached a clay court final this spring, and will enter Paris ranked nearly identically (#48) to the Latvian's 2017 position.

Sometimes lost in the storylines of this spring is that Garbine Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champ, actually claimed the RG crown two years ago and often raises her game at the season's biggest events. She could do it again. U.S. Open champ Sloane Stephens, too, has had success in Paris with a streak of four straight Round of 16 finishes (2012-15), though she'll be playing in Paris for the first time in two years. But since ending her long post-U.S. losing streak, she's shown occasional hints of her Future Sloane self.

Definitely not lost in the static of so many potential outcomes are the returns of what was once seen as the WTA's "Big 3." Last year's Roland Garros was the first major since 2002 (AO) to feature neither Serena Williams nor Maria Sharapova. Vika Azarenka wasn't in Paris last season, either. But all three return this year. Williams is back for her first slam since winning the '17 Australian and having a baby girl. She's unseeded in yet another "brilliant" move by a French Tennis Federation trying to maintain its own version of "purity" no matter how competitively obtuse the decision may be. Azarenka, too, is back in an unseeded role after having a baby and dealing with a long custody battle that has kept her out of tournaments not held in the U.S. for most of the last year. Sharapova, a year after being denied a wild card by the FFT, is installed in the draw as the #28 seed on the heels of a resurgent spring on the clay.



Meanwhile, one year after becoming the first #1 seed to lose in the RG 1st Round in the Open era, Angelique Kerber will attempt to rekindle her early '18 comeback momentum with a good run at a slam in which she hasn't reached the second week since 2014. The biggest French threat is likely #7 Caroline Garcia, the first Pastry seeded in the Top 8 in Paris since 2012. She's shown signs of reclaiming her late '17 dynamism in recent weeks, and has already heard the French crowd roar over her success after winning the doubles title with fellow French player Kristina Mladenovic in 2016.

And the storylines aren't even confined to the singles this year. In doubles, the competition is WIDE open in a season that has seen retirement, controversies, bad decisions and oddly-timed breaks (or whatever the true reason may be for Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina signing up to play RG with different partners after coming up one match win short of becoming the co-#1's) that make it hard to know most of the RG combinations without a drawsheet. In juniors, the Bannerette contingent (winners of three of the last four girls major titles, and four of six) will try to continue their recent dominance, but will find competition from the NextGen South Americans and a new wave of Asian girls. In the wheelchair competition, the #1 ranking is in play as top-ranked defending champion Yui Kamiji will once again attempt to hold off the onslaught of Dutch superstar-to-be Diede de Groot, the winner of two of the last three slams (def. Kamiji in the AO final) and a short-time holder of the #1 ranking in March.

So many expectations, hopes, dreams, wishes and spring runs will soon be on the line in Paris. Most involved in the discussion will leave the City of Light disappointed. Some will be devastated. Only a few will exit flying higher than the Eiffel Tower.

Ah, where's La Divine's brandy when we need it? Everyone's going to require a few swigs before this is over.



**RECENT WOMEN'S SLAM WINNERS**
2016 AO: Angelique Kerber, GER
2016 RG: Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2016 WI: Serena Williams, USA
2016 US: Angelique Kerber, GER
2017 AO: Serena Williams, USA
2017 RG: Alona Ostapenko, LAT
2017 WI: Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2017 US: Sloane Stephens, USA
2018 AO: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN

**ACTIVE SINGLES PLAYERS - FIRST SLAM FINAL**
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 Wimbledon - Marion Bartoli
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
2016 Australian Open - Angelique Kerber (W)
2016 U.S. Open - Karolina Pliskova
2017 Roland Garros - Alona Ostapenko (W)
2017 U.S. Open - Sloane Stephens (W)
2017 U.S. Open - Madison Keys

*ROLAND GARROS #1 SEEDS - since 2008*
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 (RU)
2017 Angelique Kerber (1st Rd.)
2018 Simona Halep

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

*RECENT RG SEMIFINALISTS*
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
2016 Muguruza (W)/S.Williams (RU), Bertens/Stosur
2017 Ostapenko (W)/Halep (RU), Ka.Pliskova/Bacsinszky

*LOW-SEEDED RG SEMIFINALISTS - since 2008*
un....Kiki Bertens, 2016
un....Alona Ostapenko, 2017 (W)
#30...Samantha Stosur, 2009 (RU)
#30...Timea Bacsinszky, 2017
#28...Andrea Petkovic, 2014
#23...Timea Bacsinszky, 2015
#21...Samantha Stosur, 2016
#21...Sara Errani, 2012 (RU)
#20...Dominika Cibulkova, 2009
#18...Genie Bouchard, 2014
#17...Francesca Schiavone, 2010 (W)
#13...Lucie Safarova, 2015 (RU)
#13...Dinara Safina, 2008
#11...Marion Bartoli, 2011

*ROLAND GARROS GIRLS FINALS - since 2008*
2008 Simona Halep/ROU d. Elena Bogdan/ROU
2009 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA d. Dasha Gavrilova/RUS
2010 Elina Svitolina/UKR d. Ons Jabeur/TUN
2011 Ons Jabeur/TUN d. Monica Puig/PUR
2012 Annika Beck/GER d. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova/SVK
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI d. Antonia Lottner/GER
2014 Dasha Kasatkina/RUS d. Ivana Jorovic/SRB
2015 Paula Badosa/ESP d. Anna Kalinskaya/RUS
2016 Rebeka Masarova/SUI d. Amanda Anisimova/USA
2017 Whitney Osuigwe/USA d. Claire Liu/USA

*BEST RG GIRLS/WOMEN'S RESULTS*
[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)
[others]
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; 2014/17 Women's RU)

*FIRST-TIME SLAM CHAMPS AT ROLAND GARROS*
[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
2016 Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2017 Alona Ostapenko, LAT
--
NOTE: Ann Haydon-Jones won first career slam at '61 Roland Garros, before Open era began in '68

*RG WHEELCHAIR CHAMPIONS*
2007 Esther Vergeer, NED
2008 Esther Vergeer, NED
2009 Esther Vergeer, NED
2010 Esther Vergeer, NED
2011 Esther Vergeer, NED
2012 Esther Vergeer, NED
2013 Sabine Ellerbrock, GER
2014 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2015 Jiske Griffioen, NED
2016 Marjolein Buis, NED
2017 Yui Kamiji, JPN
[doubles]
2007 Maaike Smit/Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2008 Jiske Griffioen/Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2009 Korie Homan/Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2010 Daniela Di Toro/Aniek van Koot, AUS/NED
2011 Esther Vergeer/Sharon Walraven, NED/NED
2012 Marjolein Buis/Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2013 Jiske Griffioen/Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2014 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
2015 Jiske Griffioen/Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2016 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
2017 Marjolein Buis/Yui Kamiji, NED/JPN

*RECENT WC SLAM SINGLES FINALS*
2015 US - Jordanne Whiley/GBR d. Yui Kamiji/JPN
2016 AO - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED d. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2016 RG - Marjolein Buis/NED d. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2016 WI - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED d. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2017 AO - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2017 RG - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 WI - Diede de Groot/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 US - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED
2018 AO - #2 Diede de Groot/NED def. #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN

*SLAM TITLES AFTER AGE 30*
10..Serena Williams, USA (age 30-35)*
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)
--
*-active

*TEEN SLAM CHAMPS - since 1997*
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (AO)*
1997 Iva Majoli, 19 (RG)*
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (WI)
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (US)
1998 Martina Hingis, 17 (AO)
1999 Martina Hingis, 18 (AO)
1999 Serena Williams, 17 (US)*
2004 Maria Sharapova, 17 (WI)*
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova, 19 (US)*
2006 Maria Sharapova, 19 (US)
--
* - first-time slam winner
NOTE: Ostapenko* (won '17 RG at 20 yrs, 2 days)

*FIRST-TIME SLAM SEMIFINALISTS SINCE 2013*
=2013=
AO: Sloane Stephens/USA
RG: -
WI: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
US: Flavia Pennetta/ITA
=2014=
AO: Genie Bouchard/CAN
RG: Simona Halep/ROU (RU), Andrea Petkovic/GER
WI: Lucie Safarova/CZE
US: Ekatarina Makarova/RUS, Peng Shuai/CHN
=2015=
AO: Madison Keys/USA
RG: Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
WI: Garbine Muguruza/ESP (RU)
US: Roberta Vinci/ITA (RU)
=2016=
AO: Johanna Konta/GBR
RG: Kiki Bertens/NED
WI: Elena Vesnina/RUS
US: Karolina Pliskova/CZE (RU)
=2017=
AO: CoCo Vandeweghe/USA
RG: Alona Ostapenko/LAT (W)
WI: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
US: -
=2018=
AO: Elise Mertens, BEL
--
NOTE: 18 of last 19 slams, 19 of 21

*CAREER SLAM #1 SEEDS - active*
20...Serena Williams
6...Caroline Wozniacki
4...Maria Sharapova
3...Victoria Azarenka
3...Angelique Kerber
2...SIMONA HALEP
1...Jelena Jankovic
1...Karolina Pliskova
1...Venus Williams




=ROUND OF 16 PREDICTIONS=
#1 Halep d. #16 Mertens
#18 Bertens d. #7 Garcia

...Halep has already faced off with Mertens once this clay season (winning in Madrid, the Waffle's only loss on the surface in '18), and could face #29 Mladenovic in the 3rd Round. Bertens (SF in '16, 2nd Rd. exit in '17) has #12 Kerber (1st Rd. '17) in her path en route to the Round of 16. After a career of begging off the big court in Paris, Garcia is coming off a QF run at RG a year ago and has earned her place at the top of the French-favored order of play.

#3 Muguruza d. Bencic/qualifier winner
#28 Sharapova d. #11 Goerges

...Muguruza is the easy "default" pick in her question-filled section, which starts with her 1st Round match vs. Kuznetsova. The group wearing the question-mark suits includes the likes of Stosur, #30 Pavlychenkova, Wickmayer and Hercog, while the section's 4th Round opponent will come from an even more unpredictable group (#15 CoCo/Siegemund, Tsurenko/Voegele, #19 Rybarikova/Kumkhum and the returning Bencic). It wouldn't be a bad place for a hot qualifier to slip through (Bencic will play one). Serena is positioned in Section #4, facing Kristyna Pliskova first, with the winner likely getting #17 Barty, then #11 Goerges (vs. Cibulkova 1st Rd.) in the 3rd Round. The winner of that section will face the winner of the corner of the draw headlined by #6 Ka.Pliskova and Sharapova. So, yes, a Serena/Sharapova Round of 16 *is* possible, but a whole lot has to happen in both sections for it to come about. A big Serena "Hail Mary" pick would seem better suited for SW19.

#5 Ostapenko d. #9 V.Williams
#4 Svitolina d. #13 Keys

...Ostapenko's title defense could include a 2nd Round match vs. Azarenka, but the Belarusian might have her hands full with Siniakova in *her* 1st Rounder. #22 Konta's opening match with Putintseva screams potential upset, while Venus is going for a third straight Round of 16 result in Paris. A surprise 4th Round survivor could emerge from the top of Section #6, as nothing can really be assumed on clay from Keys and #21 Osaka. Two qualifiers will face off for a shot at the Keys/Vickery winner in Round 2 and could very easily slip through a hole in the draw and into the second week. Svitolina's path through Tomljanovic and (possibly) Kuzmova in the 2nd Round will likely be handled well, as she'll know she needs to be prepared. #31 Buzarnescu is also in the section, but the leading '18 Late Bloomer Award contender is still seeking her first career slam MD win.

#8 Kvitova d. #10 Stephens
#14 Kasatkina d. #2 Wozniacki

...Kvitova, one year after notching the first Day 1 win at last year's RG, will be favored by many to post the LAST women's victory at the end of the tournament this time around. She could see #25 Kontaveit in the 3rd Round, and assuming she moves on from there a possible match-up with Stephens will be on everyone's radar. Might Kasatkina finally have landed in a slam draw that could allow her to go beyond the Round of 16? Her only slam 4th Round came at last year's U.S. Open. The Hordette's 1st Rounder vs. Kanepi bears watching, while a potentially exciting 3rd Rounder vs. Sakkari or #23 Suarez-Navarro may await. Wozniacki hasn't sounded recently like a player planning on a deep run in Paris, and she may have some hurdles (Collins 1st Rd., a returning Bacsinszky in the 2nd Rd., #32 Cornet or Errani in the 3rd) just reaching the Round of 16.

=QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS=
#1 Halep d. #18 Bertens
#28 Sharapova d. #3 Muguruza
#4 Svitolina d. #5 Ostapenko
#14 Kasatkina d. #8 Kvitova

...all of these could just as easily (or maybe more likely in one or two cases) go the other way.



=SEMIFINAL PREDICTIONS=
#1 Halep d. #28 Sharapova
#4 Svitolina d. #14 Kasatkina

...a handful of three-setters finally get the best of the two Russians? It'd set up a winner-take-all-and-vanquish-her-demons match-up for the final.


=FINAL PREDICTION=
#4 Svitolina d. #1 Halep

...the Ukrainian takes the leap? Will it work out that way? Don't know. But in any event, I'm not going to be jinxing Simona... so there's also that. (Maybe that'll work out for everyone... wink, wink.)

via GIPHY


Hey, I'm just sayin'.




All for now. Day 1 awaits.

5 Comments:

Blogger colt13 said...

I hope the next two weeks are as good as I think they will be.

10 On the Up Side-French Baguette Special

1.Kasatkina. Since Stephens won in New York, the Houston Astros won their first World Series, followed by the Philadelphia Eagles winning their first Super Bowl. Either the Vegas Knights or Washington Capitals will win their first Stanley Cup. And Wozniacki won her first. Why not go with Kasatkina, who is in the 4th qtr, that has 6 qualifiers. This pick looks better if she makes the second week, as she has wins against everybody in the Top 6 except Svitolina 0-4. On the cusp of a slam breakout.
2.Halep- Kristen Wiig. Melissa McCarthy. They were stars in the movie Bridesmaids. Halep has been a bridesmaid three times, but gets a slight break facing Riske. Instead of going out early, she has a chance to reach Mertens at the least.
3.Svitolina- If Kasatkina gets praise for her wins, I have to do the same for Svitolina. Doesn't have Garcia in her section, and has wins against all of the Top 8, except for going 0-2 vs Ostapenko. Also troubling? 1-7 vs Kvitova. But she's in the best shape of her career, and in a lighter section than some others.
4.Sharapova-Playing well enough that the Pliskova match might be a good one. 12-6 on clay since her return, no expectation for her to win, but her play is worthy of a big court. The popcorn match is if she draws a qualifier like Dolehide.
5.Kvitova-2012 SF looks like a threat. Has to find her form early, as she gets clay courters in Cepede Royg, and probably Arrubarrena.
6.Mertens-In the loaded 1sr qtr. All of the first time SF in recent years-Stephens, Bouchard, Keys, Konta, Vandeweghe, all followed it up with another SF eventually. It might be too soon, but Mertens will get another one.
7.Bertens-Didn't want her to play Nurnberg, but her SF run in 2016 came after that title, as well as Bouchard's in 2014. Huge favorite vs Sabalenka.
8.Buzarnescu-The person other than Sharapova who most needed a seed. No main draw wins, but also the first time she isn't playing one in the 1st rd. She drew Wozniacki in New York, then drew her again in Australia.
9.Krunic-Has the grinding clay court game to make the QF. But needs to rewrite history. Lost 5 times in qualies, and has only been in the main draw once, and lost.
10.Garcia-Not so dark horse is the highest seeded Frenchwoman since Mauresmo was #5 in 2007. France's only real hope to go deep in the draw.

Thu May 24, 06:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

10 On the Down Side.

1.Siegemund-Strictly because of the draw. Part of the Questionable Five-Bencic, Konjuh, Bacsinszky, Vondrousova, that may not stay in the draw, she draws Vandeweghe, who she is 0-4 against.
2.Ostapenko-Playing well enough to make the second week. But repeat? There hasn't been a first time slam winner at the French repeat since Seles in 1991. And that was her third slam. Before her? Evert in 1975, also her third.
3.Goerges-Could use the Pliskova playbook to make a deep run. Problem is that Pliskova is in the same section. Another problem? Her underwhelming history in majors. Highest ranked player without a QF on her resume, this is her 40th consecutive slam. And with Radwanska's streak ending, ther are scant few ahead of her-Pavlyuchenkova-41, Makarova-43, and with the 11th hour reprieve, Cornet-46.
4.Argentina-25 years ago, Sabatina was seeded #3. She reached QF, and 5 of 7 Argentine women won a match. Now? They haven't had anyone in the draw since Ormaechea in 2014, and haven't had a seed since Dulko was #29 in 2007.
5.French WC-More about the main draw. last year, the wild cards went 1-7 overall, France 1-5. Of those who lost, the players to win a set were the US and Aussie wild cards. Players aren't taking advantage. I don't want a quota, but if they keep playing this badly, there will be calls for nations to only give half of their cards to their own players.
6.Sabalenka-Fun matchup with Bertens, but expectations are for the other slams.
7.Osaka-She will be somebody's darkhorse, but she doesn't like clay, and is just now getting experience. like Konta, this is a win if she lasts till the seeds meet in the 3rd rd.
8.Kerber-Even in her dream year, this is the slam that stood out in a negative way. Not 100%, making it to week 2 would be a pleasant, but unlikely surprise.
9.Azarenka-Lather, rinse, repeat. Another one who has done much better at the other three slams, the main thing is to win a round or 2 and pick up points. once we get to Mallorca, she actually will have points to defend. And we probably will have to say the same thing at Wimbledon. To be seeded there, she would need to win Mallorca, and reach French QF.
10.Stosur-The oracle. Has been knocked out by the eventual champ here 7 times. But this year probably won't be the 8th. She is unseeded here for the first time since 2008, when she took a WC after recovering from Lyme disease. A win or 2 would be nice, but expectations are low.

Footnote-Obviously not a down, but Williams Sisters are in doubles!

Thu May 24, 07:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Of course it’s the most interesting major! It shocks me that others (as in, most others) don’t see that. (I’m being asked about betting tips, and I change my mind every few days.)

The one player who would have been in my conversation but isn’t, is Siegemund, It’s going to be a while before she’s back to her best, and even then, her extremely physical style is not her friend in a major. But I’d rather watch her okay on clay than anyone else.

I, too, think this could be the year that Svitolina does it. I’m big on Svitolina, Sharapova (if she can get her serve to behave) and Petra (whoever thought we’d be saying that?). I expect Ostapenko to go pretty deep. And I agree that Garbine could stroll in and destroy everyone in the draw.

Thu May 24, 07:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Colt-
Ah, that's a better way to describe Garcia's top seed than the way I did it. :)

Diane-
I keep saying Svitolina will probably reach a slam SF/F and lose before winning one (following her usual step-by-step pattern), but I picked her to win RG last year, too. Of course, look how that turned out. She's on her own schedule, I guess. ;)

(Actually I was quite pleased with last year's RG result, though it did ultimately extend Halep's slam-less drought, and I'd really like to see her bust down that door.)

Fri May 25, 12:02:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

If Caroline can be as concentrated and well playing as against Sevastova she can beat anyone - so don't underestimate her - even on clay. She'll get at least to the quarter final - but only if she keep up her mojo - but 6 girls aiming at #1 will be an interesting battle to follow - so good RG for your favorites. I'll back up mine.

Fri May 25, 03:13:00 AM EDT  

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