With Serena Williams out on maternity leave and Maria Sharapova not being granted a wild card, the upcoming French Open will have a depleted field of champion pedigree with no clear favourite in the women’s singles…
FAVOURITE ON FORM
In the current clay court season, the Romanian has by far been the most consistent. At the Stuttgart Open, she finished within the last four, followed by a title winning performance at the Madrid Masters, and then the runner-up finish at Rome last week. Her best result in Grand Slams was when she finished a finalist in the 2014 French Open, losing to Sharapova. With the Russian out of the event, and Halep getting into some degree of form, she’s become a vague favourite among the current crop.
The 35-year-old, who had burst onto the scene in the 1990s as a prodigious teenager, lost several years of her playing career due to personal struggles. But the Croat played a fearless brand of tennis in Australia. Earlier this month, she broke into the top 20 for the first time too.
The 36-year-old veteran doesn’t have a compelling record on clay – her seven Grand Slams have come on grass at Wimbledon (5) and the hard courts of the US Open (2). But her experience and powerful ground strokes can pave a way for her at Roland Garros, especially due to a paucity of challengers.
At 36, the Italian has fallen down in the world rankings, currently sitting on 76. But she remains a livewire on clay – winning seven titles on that surface. The 2010 French Open champion has been receiving wild card entries at tour events, and used the provision to win her first WTA Tour title of the year – on clay – in Colombia.
The 34-year-old Italian is another clay court specialist, winning six of her 10 WTA titles on the surface. Her best ever Grand Slam finish came two years ago, when she lost in the final of the 2015 US Open. Yet Italy’s No .1 remains among the senior players still prolific on tour.
The World No. 3 has notched up two titles this term. A hard-hitting aggressive player, the Czech is noted for her movement on court. She has the flat powerful grounstrokes but still has to learn the patience of building points, shot by shot, on clay.
At the Stuttgart Open, the Frenchwoman got the better of Angelique Kerber, and she later beat Maria Sharapova to end the tournament as the losing finalist. Later at the Madrid Masters, she beat heavyweight and two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova en route another finalist finish. She also has a French Open title to her name, winning the doubles in the 2016 edition.
The hard-hitting Russian burst onto the WTA circuit by winning the 2004 US Open when she was just 19. Five years later, she went on to win the French Open as well. Though she boasts an all-round game, her temperament has let her down at times. In recent years, she’s broken back into the top 10 after a slump.
The Ukrainian is currently having her best-ever season. With four titles – including the Rome Masters last week – she’s the most decorated player in the women’s field so far this season. It’s helped push her rank to her best at No 6, and made her among the bigger contenders to win her first ever Grand Slam at Roland Garros.
Despite her inconsistencies this year, the world No 1 cannot be underestimated. A stubborn returner, the German boasts the fitness and defensive skills to get her through long rallies – a useful trait when it comes to clay courts.
Came up as the fourth seed to deny Serena Williams what would have been her record-equaling 22nd title in the final at last year’s edition. The Spaniard’s powerful groundstrokes matched the American’s own famed strong shots from the baseline.
But the 23-year-old has been inconsistent ever since, failing to win a single title ever since. However, she herself has asserted that clay is ‘her territory.’ Also, she will be straightaway facing Italian Francesca Schiavone.