Lets now mull over the remaining candidates who could win at Roland Garros.
3) Victoria Azarenka: She has had a memorable run this year, winning everything that she lays her sights on – be it Sydney, Melbourne, Indian Wells or Doha. What is the common feature among all her victories ? Yes, you guessed it right, the surface. One did not expect her to reach the final at Stuttgart. But to her credit, nothing is impossible for this Belarusian living in Monaco. Hope to see her do well at the second major of the year. The stranglehold that she possesses on the rankings could be under threat, with the Wimbledon Championships to follow the French Championship (her two least likely surfaces).
4) Li Na: The defending champion, by her own admission, had stated that clay was not her favorite surface inspite of the fact that she triumphed last year, becoming the first Asian to win a singles grand slam. Unfortunately, her form has since dipped, and only an awe inspiring effort can take her to another victory. It is high time she silences her critics back home who have questioned the choice of her husband as her coach .
5) Serena Williams: Arguably the greatest women’s tennis player of this millennium is back after her freak injury that she suffered last year. She was back with a bang, winning the Charleston event at home on clay and subsequently returning to the top 10. Her WTA ranking will ensure that she does not face any top player in the initial rounds, giving her ample time to get used to the clay at Roland Garros. The only time she won here was in 2002. It’s been ten years since that victory and she would love to celebrate with the trophy.
6) Agnieszka Radwanska: The second best player this year, beating everybody apart from Azarenka. Radwanska could have so easily won 2 to 3 more titles this year had she not run into the World No.1, but such is tennis that there can be only one victor. I expect her to win a major this year though, maybe the US Open .
7) Svetlana Kuznetsva: I really like the look of her on clay. Her athletic genes come to the fore on the surface, with a good sideways movement and a creditable retrieving capability presenting the full face of the racket on the way. Do not forget she has won the tournament before and reached the final as well .
Some of the other usual suspects are Kvitova, Bartoli. They could reach the semis, but progressing to the final could be a tall order.
The rank outsiders this year to cause an upset or two could be the Italian duo of Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani (in red hot form). Sara Errani has done wonderfully well this year, winning in Acapulco and Barcelona. Her recent performance in Budapest is another example of her consistency on the clay courts.
It’s been a long time since we have had a player who could dominate this surface, could this year be a start of something special?
P.S Speaking of the surface looking at the blue courts of Madrid, we are in for exciting times in tennis.