French Open 2014: Experts' picks for the women's draw
The tennis experts of Sportskeeda look ahead at the 2014 French Open by making picks for the women’s draw in four categories: dark horse, early exit, dangerous floater, and champion.
1. Dark horse
Adnan Akhtar: Ana Ivanovic would be my pick for the dark horse. Despite losing to the likes of Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams in the clay swing, Ivanovic has given them a run for their money by taking a set off both of them, and she even went on to defeat Sharapova in their second match of the year, at Rome. The Serb could very well replicate her 2008 Roland Garros feat in 2014.
Sumer Drall: Easy pick for me. Ana Ivanovic has been playing top five tennis the whole claycourt season, and looks primed to make a Slam semifinal after a long, long time.
Roh: The diminutive Italian Sara Errani has had a good showing on clay, maintaining consistent runs in the early events leading up to the French Open. The finalist in 2012, she could very well put together another strong run this year.
Musab Abid: Hard to look past Ana Ivanovic here. While there are a number of players who have run into a patch of good form lately (Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic and Carla Suarez Navarro most prominent among those), none of them knows what it’s like to win a Grand Slam. Ivanovic does though, and she has also beaten both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova this year, the latter on a claycourt. The accumulated good karma from those results is bound to pay off sooner or later.
2. Early exit
Adnan Akhtar: With a few early round losses on clay so far, Petra Kvitova would be my pick for the early casualty at Roland Garros.
Sumer Drall: Germany’s Angelique Kerber has been struggling this year, especially during the clay court swing. Don’t be surprised if she is sent packing early.
Roh: Flavia Pennetta seems quite vulnerable and hasn’t been able to get her game in order in the clay season so far, leaving huge questions about her chances of progressing far at Roland Garros.
Musab Abid: Lots of candidates for this category. Has Caroline Wozniacki recovered from her relationship blues? Is Sloane Stephens out of her sophomore slump? Can Simona Halep stay healthy for two whole weeks? Ultimately though I have to go with Angelique Kerber; I have no idea why she is seeded eighth, and I’m afraid I won’t have to wonder about that too long into the tournament.
3. Dangerous floater
Adnan Akhtar: Francesca Schiavone would be my pick for the dangerous floater. The 2010 champion has had a subdued season so far but managed to beat Eugenie Bouchard in Rome. With a Major title already under her belt, the Italian knows how to knock out the top guns in the early rounds.
Sumer Drall: Last year's quarterfinalist Maria Kirilenko is definitely not one to be overlooked, no matter what her seeding says.
Roh: French youngster Caroline Garcia has been highly touted thanks to her natural flair and intuitive game skills. Keep an eye out for her; she is capable of causing a few ripples in the draw.
Musab Abid: Is Camila Giorgi for real? Her hit-or-miss style doesn’t lend itself to consistent results, but is exactly what you need to go on a giant-killing spree. She has defeated Maria Sharpova this year, and she put together a fine US Open last year, so this may well be the Slam where she makes some noise again.
Adnan Akhtar: The unpredictability of the WTA tour has always made it a difficult task to predict the winner of a Grand Slam. Based on current form, Maria Sharapova, with titles in Madrid and Stuttgart, would be my pick to lift the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen on 7th May.
Sumer Drall: Fresh off a title in Rome, Serena Williams looks determind to win her second straight French Open, and I wouldn’t bet against her.
Roh: Despite being placed in the same quarter as Serena Williams, with a potential quarter-final on the cards between them, the recent successes of Maria Sharapova tilt the balance in her favour (as long as they don’t actually meet in the quarterfinal, that is).
Musab Abid: I might have been tempted to go with Maria Sharapova if she had been placed far away from Serena Williams in the draw. But considering that she is slated to meet Serena as early as the quarterfinals, and the fact that the American has had a suffocating stranglehold on their matchup for nearly a decade now, I can’t help but feel that their quarterfinal match is going to really fire up the World No. 1. And we all know that once Serena gets fired up, there is no stopping her.