Eight different women have won the past nine Grand Slams, so it’s definitely hard to predict who will be the last player standing in the women’s field at Roland Garros 2019. Will defending champion Simona Halep show vulnerabilities amid the expectations? Will Naomi Osaka step up once again and become the first woman in history to win her first three majors back-to-back-to-back? Or will Kiki Bertens continue her rise this spring? Join the discussion!
Does Simona Halep have the mental strength to defend her French Open title or is the pressure now actually off since she’s already lifted a Grand Slam trophy? It’s unarguable that the Romanian masters the red surface and feels good in Paris. This claycourt season, she finished runner-up to Kiki Bertens in Madrid and then lost in the first round of Rome. Maybe that premature exit in Rome can turn out to be beneficial, as Halep had more time to rest. Her form and health are currently fine, so she has a good chance to earn her first title in 2019.
The world No.1 has never been past the third round at Roland Garros and we all know that clay is still not her preferable surface. To make the situation more difficult, her draw offers far from an easy ride, as already in the second round she is set to face either two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka or 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko. If Osaka overcomes that obstacle, her next one may be Maria Sakkari, who won her first WTA title in Rabat this claycourt season and then went all the way to the semifinals in Rome.
Serena Williams is always a threat, there’s no doubt about that, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion has played just one match on clay this season, and a total of only eight complete matches this year. At the Internazionali BNL d’Italia earlier this month she defeated Rebecca Peterson in straight sets, before withdrawing from a meeting with her sister Venus because of a knee injury.
Besides Halep, Kiki Bertens can be considered the strongest contender for the title. Currently ranked a career-high No.4 in the world, the Dutch eliminated four Grand Slam champions, including Halep in the final, to win her first Premier Mandatory title at the Madrid Open and her newfound self-belief also took her to the semifinals of Rome the following week. Moreover, the 27-year-old is no stranger to late stages of Roland Garros, having played the semifinals in 2016, her best result at a Grand Slam.
The Czech triumphed on the clay of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in April, finally snapping the WTA streak of a new champion at every tournament in 2019. A calf injury forced her to retire from her third-round match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the last major warm-up before Roland Garros. Still, Kvitova is well-versed in hitting through a damp clay court and a number of experts are including her in the dark horse list.
The world No.29 Sakkari has come to Paris full of confidence, boasting a 14-4 record this clay season. I’ve already mentioned her maiden WTA title at the recent Marocco Open, on top of which she reached the later stages of two Premier events on clay — the quarterfinals in Charleston and semis in Rome. The 23-year-old possesses the necessary strength to go far.
Fresh off clinching the Rome title on her weakest surface, Pliskova has arrived to Paris in good mood. The 2017 Roland Garros semifinalist said that if she finds her way through the unpredictable first week, her second week at the tournament could be manageable.
Garbine Muguruza’s 2019 claycourt season hasn’t been stellar, but the 2016 Roland Garros champion is one of just four multiple Grand Slam winners since 2016 in the draw and the Spaniard is always dangerous when she’s flying under the radar.
Last year’s French Open runner-up is refreshed by a new coaching partnership with Sven Groeneveld. It’s a long shot to expect her to win the title, but remember the same was the case when she surprised the entire tennis community when she triumphed at the 2017 US Open.
Who do you think can sweep past seven opponents and win this year’s French Open? Any of the above-mentioned players, or maybe Belinda Bencic, much-improved Ashleigh Barty, super confident Bianca Andreescu?
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Given the parity in the women’s game, it wouldn’t surprise me if a totally unexpected player wins the tournament. It’s happened many times. Jelena Ostapenko’s triumph two years ago is just one example.