If world No. 1 Serena Williams is going to retain her French Open title she may need a little help from the upset gods.
Williams didn’t climb to favorites status until last week winning the Rome title on red clay, her first title of the year after failing to close the deal in two previous finals.
“Four tournaments, three finals isn’t bad for everyone else, I think,” Serena spun her year thus far to reporters in Paris. “Then again I’m not everyone else. Obviously for me, if I’m not winning I’m not happy about my year. It felt good to win in Rome, though.”
Translation: “The other non-divas on tour would love to have my year. Because they’re weak tea. But as Ricky Bobby said, ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last.'”
Last year in Paris Williams battled through illness and won five three-set victories in seven matches. This year she will be up against it in a draw where she has been grouped early with a former No. 1 and French Open winner, a former No. 1 and French Open semifinalist, and another former Roland Garros champ.
Here is a look at the four quarters of the women’s draw:
Top 4 Seeds: (1) Serena Williams, (5) Victoria Azarenka, (12) Carla Suarez Navarro, (14) Ana Ivanovic
Floaters: Francesca Schiavone, (22) Dominika Cibulkova
Notes: This is the group of death for Serena. The world No. 1 is looking at the former champ Schiavone third round, then the former champ Ivanovic, then Azarenka. A healthy Azarenka, who won Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back a couple months ago, will be trouble if she is 100% healthy after having a few issues this claycourt season. Tough start for (26) Kristina Mladenovic vs. Schiavone. Serena and her camp will be keeping an eye on the results of Ivanovic and Azarenka.
Top 4 Seeds: (3) Angie Kerber, (8) Timea Bacsinszky, (9) Venus Williams, (15) Madison Keys
Floaters: (29) Daria Kasatkina, (23) Jelena Jankovic, Daria Gavrilova, Kiki Bertens, Camila Giorgi, Julia Goerges, Donna Vekic, Alize Cornet, Laura Siegemund, Genie Bouchard
Notes: The most floaters of any quarter means the most promise for disruption. Tough starts for (3) Kerber vs. Bertens who stretched her to three sets earlier this year, (20) Johanna Konta vs. Goerges, (15) Keys vs, Vekic, (9) Venus vs. Anybody, and (8) Bacsinszky vs. a qualifier then the Bouchard-Siegemund winner. Lots of young talent looking to do damage. Kerber was supposed to be the Serena-challenger after her Aussie Open win, but her mentality to challenge for No. 1 is suspect. This quarter is a compete toss-up.
Top 4 Seeds: (4) Garbine Muguruza, (7) Roberta Vinci, (10) Petra Kvitova, (13) Svetlana Kuznetsova
Floaters: (25) Irina-Camelia Begu, Annika Beck
Notes: Serena says, ‘WTF! Why didn’t this bozo quarter land at the top of the draw!’ No one here has shown sustained excellence so anything goes. Kuzy knows how to win here and it’s Muguruza’s surface (even though she also excels on fast court) so someone needs to knuckle down and maintain their seeding. The hot-handed Beck faces a qualifier and then (7) Vinci, then the winner gets the streaking (25) Begu. Can Kvitova turn it up after struggles with injuries and illnesses?
Top 4 Seeds: (2) Aggie Radwanska, (6) Simona Halep, (11) Lucie Safarova, (16) Sara Errani
Floaters: (19) Sloane Stephens, (21) Sam Stosur, Caroline Garcia
Notes: The diamond-in-the-rough match to watch for is second round: the world No. 2 Radwanska vs. the French crowd favorite Garcia, who has beaten Radwanska before. Tough quarter all around with Halep looking to prove herself, the former runner-up Errani, and big hitters Stephens and Stosur. Halep gets the fairly cake draw. If Radwanska can survive to the third round she will get Stephens or Errani. Halep should get little resistance until the third round against Stosur or Safarova.
You want semifinals? The WTA events have been a mess this clay seasons and upsets should again be everywhere in Paris.
I’ll get crazy and go Azarenka vs. Keys and Begu vs. Halep. Think you got better? Throw out your semifinal match-ups in the comments section below, then the second week you can roast the loser posters and laud the winners.
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