World No. 4 Simona Halep will begin her fortnight in Paris with an intriguing first round encounter with No. 87 Alisa Kleybanova. This marks the third time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour with Halep remaining undefeated at 2-0.
The top ranked Romanian won the first six titles of her career last year in a breakout season. While she finished the 2013 season at a career high of No. 11, Halep would only get better this year as she made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open — her best result at a Grand Slam tournament — and won the Qatar Open.
Halep would recover in sublime fashion last week in Madrid, as she worked her way through the draw to set up a fantastic final against Maria Sharapova. It was her first ever WTA Premier Mandatory final. Although Halep would storm though the first set, Sharapova would rally to take the following two sets and win the title. She is most recently coming off a third round withdrawal in Rome due to an abdominal injury.
Kleybanova began her clay court season in Stuttgart, where she defeated Petra Kvitova before losing to Jelena Jankovic in her third match that week. She would follow up with a first round loss to Eugenie Bouchard in Oeiras and would fail to qualify for Madrid afterwards. She has been off the tour since then.
Halep and Kleybanova met on two previous occasions on the WTA tour, once at the 2011 Australian Open, and another time in Moscow last season. Both contests ended in straight sets favouring Halep, and that will likely be the case this time around as well. As long as Halep is healthy, she should make a deep run in the French Open this season.
Prediction: Simona Halep in Straight Sets