Sloane Stephens is in the driving seat to return to the French Open final after losing last year to Simona Halep. The American is the highest seed and will be considered the favourite to advance. She takes on Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals with either Petra Martic or Marketa Vondrousova the unlikely semi-finalist opposite. Konta and Stephens have already played this clay swing with a comeback victory for the Brit on her way to the Rome final.
Konta remarked earlier in the clay swing that she never doubted her ability on the surface, even if the results hadn’t been coming in the past. Two finals before the French Open, including Rome, and a run to the quarter finals suggest that belief was warranted. She had a little bit of draw luck by avoiding Kiki Bertens after the Dutchwoman retired in round two but has taken full advantage, most recently beating Donna Vekic. It looked a tough match on paper but she was nearly always comfortable in the 6-2 6-4 win, never being behind in either set.
Stephens was a slow starter against Garbine Muguruza in the previous round but upon breaking back midway through the first, she was never troubled in the 6-4 6-3 win against the 2016 champion. “I think for me, I take a bit to adjust,” Stephens said of the poor start. “So I knew I just had to stay in there and hang in there and eventually my balls would start dropping in and I would be able to control the court a little bit better, and that’s exactly what I did.”
“I have only been at this stage a handful of times. So to be back here, I’m definitely very pleased. This is not my end goal or anything. I would love to be here till the very end, but I’m also really doing my best at really enjoying the different matches I get to play and the different accomplishments that I get to experience.” Konta said. It would still be a major surprise for her to win the title but with wins over both Stephens and potential semi final opponent Marketa Vondrousova in Rome, you certainly cannot write off the Brit just yet.
Prediction – Johanna Konta in three sets