Past success a good guide in Paris
Originally published on 27/05/16 00:00
Seventeen of the 32 players contesting the third round had produced strong showings at the clay Grand Slam in previous years, while nine seeds (including Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber) lost in the first round. Here are players who have enjoyed previous success at Roland Garros.
Very little needs to be said about the woman who has dominated women’s tennis for the past decade. However, despite winning the French Open three times, she has always looked more beatable on the clay than on other surfaces, and could face a tough fourth round against either Ana Ivanovic or Elina Svitolina.
Serena’s conqueror in 2014 is in imperious form at Roland Garros this year. After coming through a tough three-set match in round one against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Muguruza dispatched Myrtille Georges and Yanina Wickmayer, both in straight sets, in a total of 117 minutes. Her next opponent is likely to be Svetlana Kuznetsova and with both women playing well, it could be a classic. The winner would also have a great chance of making the final.
She is the second most successful past performer at Roland Garros after Serena, and arguably the most consistent, as she has got to the quarter-final or further on eight of the last ten occasions. Facing Muguruza in round four would be a monumental test, but no-one would want to face her if she wins that clash.
The Romanian found her form in style on her way to winning the Madrid Open, and she is playing well at Roland Garros so far. She showcased admirable mental strength and intelligent tactics in her three-set win over big-hitting 18-year-old Naomi Osaka, her first real test of the tournament, and looks good enough to reach the final again – as she did in 2014. Tough opponents stand in the way of that goal, however, as she will face 2010 finalist Sam Stosur in round four and could face Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-final and Muguruza or Kuznetsova in the semi-final.
The Swiss, 26, was superb at last year’s French Open, beating Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova in impressive fashion on her way to the semi-final, and then taking a set off Serena once she got there. Her inventive, all-court game looks well-suited to the clay, and she is happy to outrun opponents. She took care of two potentially challenging foes in the first two rounds, Laura Siegemund and Eugenie Bouchard, with consummate ease, and seems well-set to match last year’s run. A potential quarter-final against Madison Keys could be highly entertaining.
The Serb looked to be on course for a fantastic career when she won the French Open spectacularly in 2008 aged 21, but various struggles with consistency and fitness have left it as her only Grand Slam to date. However, she rediscovered her love for Roland Garros last year and played some superb tennis to beat Ekaterina Makarova and Elina Svitolina and reach the last four. She could easily have got to the final too, as she narrowly lost her semi-final to Lucie Safarova 7-5 7-5. She might have to beat Svitolina (again) and Serena just to make the quarter-final this time around, but she has definitely enough ability to do it.