What do we make of the women’s game in this year’s French Open? World number one Serena Williams is not having a Serena-type year. Despite winning at Rome last week, Serena has had some strange results so far in 2014 (her loss at Dubai to Alize Cornet comes to mind), plus she’s had to deal with some nagging injuries this year, including her withdrawal at Madrid two weeks ago due to a thigh injury. Victoria Azarenka, who has been the second best player in the world recently, is out of the tournament completely due to a left foot injury. Maria Sharapova, who has made the French Open final the past two years (the 2012 French Open champion) is seeded seventh this year. She is still struggling to find the consistency that she had last year before her shoulder injury.
With the top of women’s tennis in some disarray, perhaps this is the year where someone unexpected may end up winning the Suzanne Lenglen trophy. Let’s check out the women’s draw and find out.
Serena Williams’ Quarter
This should be a very comfortable draw for women’s top seed. There could be a possible third round encounter with big sister Venus Williams (and those matches are never comfortable for either sister), but Serena has not lost to Venus since 2009. Besides, given her age (34), health, and recent performances at Grand Slam tournaments, it is no guarantee that Venus would even get this far. Sabine Lisicki, who defeated Serena at Wimbledon last year, is also in her section and could meet up in the fourth round. But as with Venus, this too is no guarantee, as Lisicki has never gotten past the third round at Roland Garros. Frankly, there is no should who should pose a threat to Serena in this quarter, and that includes the other top seed Maria Sharapova, given her lopsided head-to-head advantage over the Russian.
Quarterfinal: Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova
Winner: Serena Williams
Agnieszka Radwanska’s Quarter
If third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska is to finally get to a semifinal in Paris, this is the draw to do it. 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone could be a possible third-round opponent, but the Italian is now 34-years old and currently ranked just outside the top 50. Her most likely fourth-round opponent would be 14th-seed Carla Suarez Navarro, who she is 3-0 against. Meanwhile the other top seed in this section of the draw, 8th-seed Angelique Kerber, has been struggling of late. In order to get to the quarterfinals, she would have to get past names such as Daniela Hantuchova, 2014 Indian Wells Open winner Flavia Pennetta, and Eugenie Bouchard. The 20-year old Bouchard, who made the semifinals at the Australian Open, will be entering the French Open fresh off her first career WTA singles title in Nuremberg (a French Open warm up tournament). Pennetta is the one person who should concern Radwanska. The Italian is 2-0 against Radwanska this year.
Quarterfinal: Agnieszka Radwanska vs Flavia Pennetta
Winner: Flavia Pennetta
Simona Halep’s Quarter
Who is Simona Halep? The 22-year old Romanian had a breakthrough year in 2013 -she was named WTA Most Improved Player – and is seeded fourth in Paris. Everyone will be curious to see how she handles the pressure of being a top-seeded player, given that she has never made the semifinals of a Grand Slam (although she did the quarterfinals at the 2014 Australian Open). Her half of this section offers little resistance. The highest seed there is American Sloane Stephens (15th seed) whose game has gone off the rails this year, not to mention that clay is her least favorite surface. The top seed on the opposite side is fifth seed Petra Kvitova, and one never knows which Kvitova can show up. It would not shock anyone if she were to lose in the first round, or make it to the semifinals. In other words, she cannot be trusted. Pay close attention to Ana Ivanovic in this section of the draw. She may have a tough path to the quarters, but the former world number one and 2007 French Open champion has had some good results on clay leading up to this tournament.
Quarterfinal: Simona Halep vs Ana Ivanovic
Winner: Simona Halep
Li Na’s Quarter
Li Na is a definite threat to win here in Paris, having done so before in 2011. Consistency has always been the question for the number two seed. It has improved under coach Carlos Rodriguez (former coach of Justin Henin) but issues remain based on her performance on clay this year. Her draw should allow her to make a deep run in 2014. The other top seeds in her half are Andrea Petkovic (who is in a midst of a terrible slump) and Caroline Wozniacki (one must wonder what her emotional state will be like given what’s been going on off the court). Things could get interesting should the world number two get to the quarterfinal as expected. There, her opponents would most likely be either sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic or tenth-seeded Sara Errani. Jankovic is 2-0 against Li on clay, while 2012 French Open runner up Errani defeated Li last week in Rome. Both are very solid players on clay.
Quarterfinal: Li Na vs Jelena Jankovic
Winner: Li Na
Serena Williams vs Flavia Pennetta
Serena owns a 4-1 record against Pennetta, including their lone meeting on clay (2012 quarterfinals in Rome). Pennetta’s lone “win” came via a walkover in the 2005 Rogers Cup in Toronto when Serena had to withdraw due to pain in her left knee. The Italian is just not able to handle Serena’s power game – whether it’s her serve or her groundstrokes.
Winner: Serena Williams
Simona Halep vs Li Na
Halep is the type of player that can trouble Li Na. The Romanian will be able to handle the pace of Na’s groundstrokes and is a very aggressive counterpuncher. Whereas the Chinese can be erratic at times, Halep’s game is very steady and she makes very few errors (think Victoria Azarenka). As previously mentioned, not many casual tennis observers know about Simona Halep. They will after this tournament!
Winner: Simona Halep
Serena Williams vs Simona Halep
Being that this will be her first ever Grand Slam final, expect there to be some nerves for Simona Halep. How much will it affect her? Serena Williams will not be kind, and will be looking to get to a quick start before the Romanian settles down. By then it may be too late for Simona.
Champion: Serena Williams
Who will be the 2014 French Open women's singles champion?
- Serena Williams (60%, 3 Votes)
- Maria Sharapova (20%, 1 Votes)
- Someone else (20%, 1 Votes)
- Li Na (0%, 0 Votes)
- Agnieszka Radwanska (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 5