Which woman will lift the French Open this year?
As I start writing this, I am skeptical about whether my predictions in the article would turn out true. The women’s draw has seen so many upsets that the predictions of tennis pundits are going wrong by the day. Just like Wimbledon last year, where Marion Bartoli was triumphant, the French Open is heading the same way.
10 of the top 16 seeds have fallen and former champions have been shown the door. However, there are still three former grand slam champions in the draw: Maria Sharapova, Samantha Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Although Sharapova and Stosur do face off in the fourth round, leaving us with probably only two former champions in the draw.
The unpredictabilty of the women’s game has created a scenario where a lesser known player can have a splendid two weeks of form and can lift a grand slam trophy at the end of it. With 16 women left in the draw, I will try to look at the contenders who are most likely to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen at the end of next week.
#5 Carla Suarez Navarro
To think of a contender from the second quarter of the draw was a tough task. On one hand was Angelique Kerber, the highest seeded player in this section and then there was the rising youngster Eugenie Bouchard. But I decided to go with the Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
Not many people would have heard about her, but the Spaniard has had a good run of form so far in 2014. Navarro has won a title in Portugal, lost only to Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic during the clay leg and had to retire against Sara Errani in Stuttgart. To add to that she has beaten Kerber earlier this season at the German’s home event in Stuttgart. I feel the Spaniard has a strong chance to go deep into the draw at Roland Garros.
#4 Svetlana Kuznetsova
The wily Svetlana Kuznetsova is a player who can never be counted out in major tournaments. Having already won multiple grand slam titles previously, Kuznetsova would know how to handle pressure at the business end of the tournament.
A closely fought win against Petra Kvitova would surely give confidence to the Russian as she tries to replicate her 2009 triumph. She would face Lucie Safarova in the fourth round with possible clashes against Simona Halep and Sara Errani in the quarters and semis respectively.
#3 Sara Errani
The Italian, a former finalist at Roland Garros is also a strong contender to go one better than her 2012 performance. Errani would face 6th seed Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round. She had a tough first round clash against Madison Keys but managed to breeze past her opponents in the next few rounds. With clay being her favorite surface, Errani could add to her doubles Grand Slam success in the singles.
#2 Simona Halep
The young Romanian has been the talk of the town at Roland Garros. The highest seed left in the draw has a golden chance to win her maiden Grand Slam. She has had an on-off season so far losing matches against Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska during the clay tour.
The draw ahead of her would not be an easy one as she faces the only American left in the draw Sloane Stephens. She could possibly face Kuznetsova and Errani in the latter stages of the tournament. If the youngster can control her emotions and handle pressure effectively, she could very well be crowned champion on 7th May.
#1 Maria Sharapova
Of all the players playing at present, Maria Sharapova has the best record on clay losing only to Serena Williams in the last few years and a rare loss against Ana Ivanovic in Rome. Despite all the upsets around her, she has continued to pave her way ahead. A double bagel thrashing in the third round can only act as an ominous sign for her opponents. Having said that, I do recall Sharapova having an excellent run at the 2013 Australian Open, only to lose tamely to Li Na in the semifinals.
With her section of the draw devoid of big names, Sharapova could very well go deep and register another title at the French Open.
Possible semifinal prediction:
Maria Sharapova vs Carla Suarez Navarro
Simona Halep vs Sara Errani
Final prediction: Maria Sharapova vs Sara Errani