The second grand slam of the year gets underway on Sunday and it looks wide open on the women’s side. Simona Halep will look to defend her title while Naomi Osaka will be entering the tournament with a 14 match winning streak at grand slams, hoping to pick up a third straight slam. Serena Williams will also return, hoping she can finally match the 24 slam wins of Margaret Court and to become only the second player to win all four slams at least four times.
Full draw here: Roland Garros Women’s 2019 Draw
Watch the ATP Madrid 2019 Live Stream Here.
Osaka clung on to her No.1 ranking over the clay swing despite several chances to lose it after an average season the surface so far. She was beaten by Belinda Bencic in Madrid while withdrawing in both the tournaments either side of it in Stuttgart and Rome. There’s a potential for a thriller in round two with either Jelena Ostapenko or Victoria Azarenka awaiting in round two. Ostapenko was the shock winner at this tournament two years ago but has struggled since while Azarenka is still yet to get back to her best, if it is still a possibility. A late run at a seed was ended in Rome when she lost in the quarter finals to Karolina Pliskova. An in-form Maria Sakkari will hope for a good run in Paris having made the semi finals in Rome while former semi-finalist Madison Keys might have been a live outsider had she came into the tournament with more match practice.
Serena Williams is slated to return at this event but her latest withdrawal will have many doubting the former champion is fully match fit and ready for a tough fortnight in Paris. Should she be fighting fit, she obviously has to be seen as one of the favourites with two finals and a quarter final in her last three slams. If not, it opens up a great opportunity for Bianca Andreescu as the first possible seed for Serena. The young Canadian shocked the world with her Indian Wells title and has a strong well-rounded game that could surprise many if off their game – as that excellent run showed. Ashleigh Barty will see this as a great opportunity also although the Australian’s best performances have come on hard courts in the past. She lost to a surging Kristina Mladenovic in Rome but has generally been trusted to beat players considered to be below her level in the past.
Simona Halep‘s defence of her title will begin against Ajla Tomljanovic before a potentially tough second round against the young American hopeful Amanda Anisimova. The Romanian failed to pick up another Madrid title and was then dumped out of Rome in her opening match by Marketa Vondrousova. She hopes to bounce back here and will possibly be considered the favourite despite Serena and Naomi Osaka being in her half. Lesia Tsurenko’s power is always dangerous but it’s likely her fourth round seeded opponent gives Halep more trouble. Daria Kasatkina made the quarter finals last year while Qiang Wang has had a strong year, even if her clay results aren’t too special.
Petra Kvitova rounds off the top half of the draw, hoping once again for a crack at the World No.1 spot. She would need to win the title to do so but has proven herself as far more consistent over the past few years, although that hasn’t been the case at the French Open just yet. The Czech won in Stuttgart before coming unstuck against Kiki Bertens in Madrid, a loss that doesn’t look so bad in retrospect. Aryna Sabalenka‘s quick rise up the rankings has not been backed up in her grand slam results, with the best performance over her last four being a fourth round at the US Open. The Belarussian wields great power but hasn’t quite managed to remain consistent too often thus far. She will begin against Dominika Cibulkova, one of a number of former slam finalists in this section of the draw. Mihaela Buzarnescu is also seeded in this section but may fall out of that ranking with an early loss here. She had one of the shock wins of the tournament last year, beating Elina Svitolina in straight sets.
Elina Svitolina came into the tournament last year as one of the favourites, with a legitimate chance of winning at all. It’s not quite that way this year, although much of that can be put down to her injury woes. The Ukranian has played just two matches on clay this Spring, losing both of them. She was match point up in Rome, losing to Victoria Azarenka and taking a ranking points hit in the process. It would appear far too early for her to mount a strong run here and even more so when she sees Venus Williams waiting in round one. Sloane Stephens was the losing finalist last year and will be confident of going deep this time round too. The American did lose early in Rome to Johanna Konta but had a strong Madrid, losing to Kiki Bertens in the semi final. She has remained a constant in the top 10 and looks the most likely to make the quarter finals here. Former champion Garbine Muguruza can never be written off but it would be a most unlikely title should she claim another. The Spaniard won a title in Monterrey earlier this year but a retirement loss in her last outing is unlikely to inspire much confidence of her going far.
Kiki Bertens has always been a solid clay performer, making the semi finals here back in 2016. However, the last year has been amazing for her as she jumped from outside the top 20 to the top 5 in the space of a year. That was confirmed after her stunning Madrid title, where she won without dropping a single set – including against former champions Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep. She has gone from a possible quarter finalist to now being thought of as a possible winner following Madrid and Rome, where she backed up her title with a strong semi final run. She lost to Johanna Konta there, who is her projected round three opponent. She will be eager to avenge that loss and move on to the fourth round. Belinda Bencic seems the most likely opponent there with Bertens already having a win over the Swiss in Stuttgart this year. She had a strong run in Madrid, beating Naomi Osaka on her way to the semi finals.
Angelique Kerber has an outside chance of going to No.1 if she wins the title but the chances of that look slim. The German is a top level performer on grass and hard court but that has rarely translated to the clay, where she has made just two quarter finals. Elise Mertens will be one of the seeds eyeing up a quarter final spot at the expense of Kerber but some of the unseeded players could well be dangerous. Marketa Vondrousova has a win over the defending champion this year while Dayana Yastremska is another rising talent capable of big things down the line. 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova will be hoping for better after losing to Mariana Duque Marino in the opening round last year. She made the quarter finals in Stuttgart and last 16 in Madrid, losing to the champion on both occasions.
Karolina Pliskova wouldn’t have been one of the top few picks for the French Open title a month ago but has moved her name up the rankings after an excellent title in Rome. She jumped into the second seed spot after beating Johanna Konta in the final to wrap up another Premier title for the Czech. It will be intriguing to see if her and former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova meet in round two. The Russian’s best days are long gone but she boasted an outstanding clay game in the past. Caroline Wozniacki had back to back retirements in Madrid and Rome, giving more reason to see her as one of the most vulnerable seeds in the draw. The Dane has never been strong on clay but will play a relative slam rookie in Veronika Kudermertova. The Russian has played just one main draw match in a slam, losing in the first round of the Australian Open this year.
SF: Simona Halep def. Ashleigh Barty
SF: Kiki Bertens def. Karolina Pliskova
F: Simona Halep def. Kiki Bertens