SHARE YOUR PREDICTION!
Will it be red hot Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams? Once clumsy on clay, Sharapova is now a definite favorite for the Roland Garros trophy. With Stuttgart and Rome titles this season, Sharapova has raised her record in clay finals to 5-0 and she’s 11-0 on dirt this season. Also, four of her last five titles have come on clay. The 2002 French Open champion Serena is on a 17-match winning streak on clay, the second best clay streak this century, and even though she withdrew in the semifinals of Rome, she’s expected to be healthy for Roland Garros. Just like Sharapova, Serena won two titles on clay this year, in Charleston and Madrid.
World number one Victoria Azarenka has had a stellar season, with a 35-3 win-loss record, four titles, including her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open, and two finals in eight tournaments she played in 2012. As for the clay season, she played the finals of Stuttgart and Madrid and beat three former French Open champions on the way (Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic and Li Na) before losing to the hottest players of the moment, to Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Azarenka then withdrew from Rome after comfortably winning her opener, saying that she didn’t even want to enter the tournament in the first place, but was forced by the pressure of WTA rules. This will be the first time Azarenka is top seed at a Grand Slam.
Agnieszka Radwanska‘s 2012 is marked by her top five debut, titles at Dubai and Miami and Victoria Azarenka. Before losing to Petra Cetkovska in the second round of Rome, which was ahead of a very likely meeting with Azarenka, the Pole had lost to Azarenka six times in 2012, and those were all the matches she lost during the season. At Roland Garros Radwanska and Azarenka are in the same half of the draw. Moreover, Radwanska is now in the final of the Brussels Open, yet another achievement in 2012.
Fresh Top 10 member Angelique Kerber started 2012 with no Top 10 wins in her biography, but she’s piled up already six by now, over Maria Sharapova, Marion Bartoli, Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki (twice) and most recently over Petra Kvitova. Kerber is definitely the one to keep your eye on! Her best showing this clay season was the Rome semifinal which she lost to eventual champion Sharapova.
This time last year fourth-ranked Petra Kvitova had three titles under her belt, while this year she hasn’t even reached a single final. Regarding the claycourt season, Kvitova lost in Stuttgart semifinal to Maria Sharapova, to Lucie Hradecka in the second round of Madrid, and to Angelique Kerber in Rome quarterfinals. Moreover, in Rome she reaggravated her abdominal injury. Overall, since her Australian Open semifinals, she’s won successive matches just twice.
Li Na was an unexpected winner of Roland Garros last year. On clay in 2012 Li reached the semifinals of Madrid and the final of Rome. Can we expect the unexpected from her again? Actually, the post-Grand Slam title slump is behind Li. She’s been consistent recently, and her results in the Roland Garros lead-up tournaments this year are even slightly better than last year when she went on to win her maiden major.
Do you put your hopes on some other player maybe? Samantha Stosur? Francesca Schiavone? Feel free to select “Other” in the poll and write your explanation in the comments section. (photos: © Neal Trousdale)