2016 French Open/Roland Garros Women’s Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The clay season is reaching its climax and the excitement has reached its maximum- that can only mean one thing…. It’s time for the French Open!
Tier: Grand Slam
Location: Paris, France
Prize money: $ 2,244,782
Date: May 22- June 5
Top eight seeds (ranking)
- Serena Williams (1)
- Agnieszka Radwanska (2)
- Angelique Kerber (3)
- Garbine Muguruza (4)
- Victoria Azarenka (5)
- Simona Halep (6)
- Roberta Vinci (7)
- Timea Bacsinszky (9)
Belinda Bencic, Caroline Wozniacki, and Maria Sharapova are notable absentees.
First round matches to watch
Angelique Kerber vs Kiki Bertens
The Australian Open Champion has been handed a tough opening round draw against the in form Kiki Bertens who had a good run in Nurnberg.
Although she has had success on the dirt, clay has never been considered Kerber’s best surface. The French Open has statistically been her worst grand slam as it is the only one that she has never made the semi finals in.
Bertens has form on her side and she gave Kerber a lot of problems in Miami earlier this year before retiring due to injury in their only previous meeting. An upset potentially here, and certainly one to look out for.
(28) Andrea Petkovic vs Laura Robson
Robson’s comeback from injury continues at the French Open where she will face 28th seeded Petkovic in the opening round.
The German has not been in good form this year and has lost three matches on the bounce heading into the tournament. Robson may see this as a possible chance to claim a seeded scalp if she can find her game, though clay is not her preferred surface.
This will be an interesting indication as to where the Brit’s game is at on her comeback. Petkovic on the other hand will be looking at this match to build some form for the rest of the tournament.
(26) Kristina Mladenovic vs Francesca Schiavone
It is always interesting to see how the home players will do at the French open, and Mladenovic is the highest ranked of the group, so maybe there’s some extra pressure on her shoulders.
Mladenovic is talented but has struggled for form this year, only claiming back to back victories in Strasbourg. She lost to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-1 6-1 in the semi finals and that could knock any confidence out of her.
Schiavone is a former champion here so not a player you want to be drawing early. Her experience and clay court prowess will cause problems, and factor in the home crowd pressure, it could be an early exit for Mladenovic.
The world number one has broken her 2016 title duck and heads into Roland Garros as a strong favourite to defend her title. Serena has been drawn with a tough quarter so it might be a rough ride to the semi finals should she make it. Magdalena Rybarikova is a potentially tricky opener for the defending champion, but from there it looks pretty good until the fourth round. Mladenovic Is the projected third round opponent but her form is poor. Former champion, Ana Ivanovic, could await in the round of 16. Oceane Dodin will be a good test in the opening round, but from there an out of form Elina Svitolina looks like the toughest proposition. Ivanovic does hold victories over Serena so watch out for this round four should it happen.
Normally drawing Azarenka in your quarter spells huge trouble, but Vika has been nursing injuries and clay is not her best surface. Her draw to the fourth round looks promising with and out of sorts Petkovic being the seed in that section. Dominika Cibulkova and Carla Suarez Navarro could meet in the other round three clash in this section, and that one should be good. Suarez Navarro is a proven clay courter and Cibulkova comes in with some good results behind her. The winner may fancy their chances at making the quarter finals if Azarenka is not 100%.
The French Open is the only grand slam in which Kerber has never made the semi finals, can complete the set this year? The German has a tough first round against an in form Bertens, then will face the winner of Camila Giorgi vs Alize Lim. Daria Kasatkina is the projected third round opponent and her form this year has been very good. Speaking of good form, Madison Keys has also landed in this section. The big hitting American made the final in Rome two weeks back so will be full of confidence here. Daria Gavrilova and Mariana Duque-Marino are also going well so could be a tough test in the second round for Keys. Johanna Konta is likely to await the winner in the third round. A potential Kerber-Keys meeting in the fourth will be a must watch match-up.
Bacsinszky’s bid to defend her semi final points got a boost with the withdrawal of Belinda Bencic. The Swiss is now the eighth seed and has a good chance of repeating last years success. Bacsinszky could face either Eugenie Bouchard or the in form Laura Siegemund in the second round which is a tough one. Monica Niculescu is the projected third round adversary, but recent injuries might prevent her from performing at her best level. Venus Williams has never won the French Open and it might be unlikely to change soon. The former world number one has an interesting round two with Louisa Chirico on the cards if they both win their respective matches. It is not a bad draw for French hopeful Alize Cornet. Kirsten Flipkens could be a testing opener, but an out of sorts Jelena Jankovic is the other seed in the section. It is possible an unseeded player makes the fourth round against Bacsinszky here.
The French Open has been a kind grand slam for Muguruza. Her previous two quarter finals here show that she has the potential to go all the way, but first she must raise her level and navigate some tough obstacles. Ekaterina Makarova is the first seeded player in her draw, and she could be a difficult test even though Muguruza dispatched the Russian easily in Rome. There is another Russian lurking in Kuznetsova who is a potential dark horse in this event. A former champion here, Kuznetsova knows what it takes to be a French Open champion. A Kuznetsova-Muguruza fourth round would be fireworks.
Roberta Vinci is in no kind of form and might be another early exit candidate. It will likely be against Irina Begu in the third round where the Italian is eliminated, meaning a good run for Begu here. Petra Kvitova is also not in the best of form, but she can catch fire at any point and maybe Roland Garros will be that time. She has a good draw with compatriot Karolina Pliskova being the seed in her section, and with a possible exit for Vinci, the draw could open up for the Czech to make the last eight.
Another player who could possibly make an early exit is the second seed, Radwanska. The Pole is not her strongest on clay and comes into Roland Garros in bad form. If Caroline Garcia can get over her French Open jitters, the 22 year old could be the one to send Radwanska packing in the second round. Barbora Strycova could also be a tricky third round opponent for the winner of that possible second round match. Sara Errani is the projected fourth round opponent, but her iffy form could mean that Sloane Stephens makes the last 16 instead. The American has a good round one match against Margarita Gasparyan on the cards, which is another match-up to watch.
Simona Halep has picked up form just in time for the French Open where she is a former finalist. The Romanian however has some good players in her section such as the in form Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Jelena Ostapenko is the projected third round opponent, but Lucic’s form could mean an early exit for the Latvian. Lucie Safarova has landed in this quarter and will have a difficult time in defending her final points. However, Stosur’s recent injury has helped boost them hopes and th Czech could meet Halep in the fourth round.
Serena def. Suarez Navarro
Bacsinszky def. Kerber
Muguruza def. Kvitova
Halep def. Stephens
Serena def. Bacsinszky
Muguruza def. Halep
Serena def. Muguruza