This year’s French Open draw is lacking in first round blockbuster match-ups, but otherwise poses some interesting roads for the top contenders, including the biggest contender of them all, Serena Williams.
After blasting French wildcard Alize Kim in her opener, Serena’s path will then likely go through Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, former No. 1 and sister Venus Willimas, Italian Roberta Vinci, then in the quarterfinals former No. 1 and French Open champ Maria Sharapova.
The semifinals would likely see Serena against Aggie Radwanska or Angie Kerber.
Who will Serena play in the final?
Here are the top contenders:
LI NA — The No. 2 seed has a less-than-tough path with upset-minded American Alison Riske in the 2nd rd., No. 28 seed Andrea Petkoic in the 3rd., and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the quarters.
ANA IVANOVIC — The No. 11 seed is the sleeper and one of the few players that can put a scare in Serena. The former French Open champ has a tough opener against French favorite and fast riser Caroline Garcia. Her road after that would like go through Petra Martic, No. 23 seed Lucie Safarova, No. 27 Svetlana Kuznetsova, and No. 4 Simona Halep to gain the semifinals.
First-round entertainment to watch for:
(29) Venus Williams vs. Belinda Bencic — Tough opener for Venus against the ever-improving Martina Hingis clone
(19) Sam Stosur vs. Monica Puig — The Puerto Rican will try and keep Stosur out there long enough to implode with a backhand-only clinic
(32) Elena Vesnina vs. Christina McHale — The American just reached her first career WTA semifinal on clay this week, and is a good match-up for Vesnina
(11) Ana Ivanovic vs. Caroline Garcia — The Frenchwoman will need a lot of crowd support to get through this one, but can she and the crowd get into Ana’s head?
(15) Sloane Stephens vs. Shuai Peng — Stephens has shown she can lose to anyone this year
(30) Klara Koukalova vs. Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor — You don’t want to face a Spanish opponent on clay with three names, much less four
(4) Simona Halep vs. Alisa Kleybanova — Halep pulled fron Rome with an ab injury, a tough one to train with and recover from
(10) Sara Errani vs. Madison Keys — Keys’ draw would open up after an upset here, is she ready for a breakthrough? Against a former finalist? One to watch.
Is Halep still injured? Could Serena have a sympathy meltdown if she plays Venus? Could Caroline Wozniacki jump up on a table in the player dining hall and scream, “I know you’re all looking at me! I can feel it!”?
These are the questions that could determine gaps appearing in the draw after some major upsets. As you can tell with the absence of Maria Sharapova talk — not feeling it with Maria this year for some reason,
In the end look for a Serena vs. Ana or Li final — either of which, given Serena’s mental flare-out earlier this year from “playing too much,” could yield an upset, or at least some fine three-set viewing.
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