Five Storylines To Follow In The French Open Women’s Draw - UBITENNIS
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Five Storylines To Follow In The French Open Women’s Draw

From Swiatek’s winning run to Jabeur’s success on the clay, here are the key things to watch out for in this year’s tournament.

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Over the next two weeks all eyes will be on the developments taking place in the French capital of Paris where the 126th edition of Roland Garros will be taking place.

 

128 players will be fighting it out for the title which also rewards the singles champion with 1000 ranking points and prize money of €2,200,000. The women’s draw is one full of intrigue with the past six editions of the tournament being won by different players. Iga Swiatek has established herself as the frontrunner but there are others following in close pursuit.

Here’s a look at some of the talking points in the women’s draw this year.

Swiatek’s dominance

Can anybody stop Swiatek? The Pole has enjoyed a sensational past few months which has seen her win 28 matches in a row, claiming five straight titles. Out of those five, four were at WTA 1000 events. To put the run into context, only three other players on the WTA Tour have achieved such a winning streak since 2000 – both of the Williams sisters and Justine Henin.

The 20-year-old is already a strong clay court player having won half of her career titles (4/8) on the surface, including the 2020 French Open. Following her most recent triumph at the Italian Open on Sunday, Swiatek played down the potential pressure she faces of being the title favourite.

Honestly, I’m going to do the same way I’ve done here (in Rome), also in other tournaments,” she said of her preparations for the French Open. “For sure it’s going to be a little bit harder with all the breaks that we’re going to have between matches. I also like the rhythm that we have on Grand Slams. Again, I’m going to try to do step by step, just think of the next match as I did in these tournaments.”

Out of the past 14 French Open tournaments that have taken place, the top seed has only won the title three times. Serena Williams prevailed in 2013 and 2015, followed by Simona Halep in 2018.

Swiatek’s potential path to French Open title No.2

R128 – Q
R64 – Riske/Yastremska
R32 – Samsonova
R16 – Halep/Ostapenko
QF – Pliskova/Pegula
SF – Badosa/Sabalenka
F – Krejcikova/Sakkari/Jabeur

Is Barbora Krejcikova fit enough?

12 months ago Barbora Krejcikova achieved the unthinkable by winning the French Open at a time when she only had one Tour title to her name and was yet to crack the world’s top 20 in singles. Since then, the Czech has peaked at a high of No.2 in the world with quarter-finals appearances at both the US Open and Australian Open.

However, Krejcikova enters Paris with a huge question mark over her head. Due to a troublesome elbow injury she hasn’t played a Tour match since February 23rd at the Qatar Open.

“Last year was extremely amazing,” the 26-year-old said during the French Open draw on Thursday. “I think the results that I had during that year was something incredible. I’m really happy that it happened but it was something that I didn’t expect.’
“I’m super happy to be back here (in Paris). I’m looking forward to start playing and I hope it will be a good year again.”
She added.

The defending champion will be hoping to avoid a first round loss this year. Players to have won a Grand Slam and then lose in the first round 12 months later include Anastasia Myskina, Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko.

Krejcikova will start her campaign against France’s Diane Parry.

Top names target Grand Slam breakthrough

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Out of the five top seeds in the draw, three of them are yet to play in the final of a major tournament. Paula Badosa, Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit are yet to achieve such a milestone. Out of the trio Greece’s Sakkari has the best record at the majors with runs to the semi-final stage on two occasions, including last year’s French Open. Although she has only played six matches on the clay so far this season, winning just three of them.

Second seed Badosa has only won 15 Grand Slam main draw matches in her career to date with seven of those occurring at Roland Garros. In fact she has won more matches at the tournament than any other major with runs to the fourth round in 2020 followed by the quarter-finals a year later. Out of her three WTA titles, only one was one on clay.

Finally, Kontaveit has only managed to reach the second week at Roland Garros once in six previous attempts. Despite her success on the women’s Tour, she is yet to make a significant breakthrough at the big events and is a more formidable force when it comes to playing on the hard courts.

The past three editions of the French Open have been won by players who entered the draw with no Grand Slam titles to their name.

Emma Raducanu’s French Open debut

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Since winning the US Open title last September, Emma Raducanu has endured a rollercoaster journey on the Tour and is yet to reach the final of another tournament. So far in 2022 the Brit has achieved a win-loss of 7-9 and only managed to record back-to-back wins in two out of eight tournaments. Although both of those were at a clay court event (Stuttgart and Madrid).

Part of the reason for the lacklustre results has been down to physical issues. The latest of which is a back problem that forced Raducanu to retire from her first round match against Bianca Andreescu at the Italian Open.

‘That is definitely a journey [where] I’m learning on the way but it’s just what works for me as an individual,” Raducanu recently told the Wall Street Journal when asked about her decision to split with three coaches within a year.
‘It might not work for anyone else and people might look at me like I’m crazy but I trust my own decision-making and my own beliefs of what I think is right for myself.
‘I’m pretty confident in how I’m working and my mindset and outlook towards how I’m approaching my tennis right.’

Raducanu will make her main draw debut at the French Open this year. She has previously played in the junior edition back in 2018 when she lost in the second round to Denmark’s Clara Tauson.

Will Jabeur cause a surprise?

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Looking at the performances on the clay this year alone, Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur has to be considered as a strong contender for the title. She has achieved an impressive win-loss record of 17-3 on the surface and recently won 11 matches in a row. Something she had never done in her career before. The 27-year-old has reached the final in three out of her past four tournaments, winning the Madrid Open.

“I enjoy Roland Garros a lot. I have great memories of that Grand Slam. I didn’t think about being the favourite to go there and people expecting me to do things. But it’s for sure a good pressure for me. I hope I will be ready for it,” Jabeur told reporters in Rome last Sunday.

Seeded sixth in this year’s draw, Jabeur could potentially face Petra Kvitova in the third round should the draw go according to rankings. Then she may have to face either Raducanu or Angelique Kerber followed by a last eight clash with Sakkari.

Jabeur won the French Open junior title back in 2011 when she beat Daria Gavrilova, Caroline Garcia and Monica Puig en route to the trophy.

The full French Open draw can be viewed HERE.

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Ajla Tomljanovic reaches the Wimbledon quarter finals for the second consecutive year

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Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic reached the quarter final at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year after a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over France’s Alizé Cornet after 2 hours and 34 minutes. 

 

Tomljanovic had already beaten Cornet in three sets in the second round in last year’s edition of Wimbledon. 

The Australian player converted eight of his fourteen break points. She has become the first Australian player to reach consecutive Wimbledon quarter finals since Jelena Dokic advanced to the quarter finals in 1999 and the semifinals in 2000. 

Cornet reached her first Grand Slam quarter final at the Australian Open last January and broke Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak in the third round at Wimbledon. 

Cornet earned a break to open up a 4-1 lead in the opening set.  Tomljanovic broke back in the seventh game for 3-4. Both players traded breaks in the eighth and ninth games. Cornet sealed the first set with a third break in the 10th game after 49 minutes. 

The second set started with a trade of breaks. Tomlanovic earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Cornet broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Tomljanovic broke in the ninth game at deuce and served out the second set 6-4 at deuce. 

Tomljanovic earned a break for 2-1 in the third set after two consecutive double faults by Cornet. The Aussie player broke again in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead. Cornet pulled one of the two breaks back in the eighth game for 3-5, but Tomljanovic broke for the fourth game to seal the decider on her third match point setting up a quarter final against Elena Rybakina, who beat Petra Martic 7-5 6-3. 

Rybakina beat Tomljanovic 6-4 6-0 in the first round of the Madrid Mutua Open last year. 

“Today was crazy. Cornet’s level was really high from the get-go. I think the second point of the first game was so long that I thought to myself: ‘I don’t know if I am going to physically be able to keep up with her. It felt like a coin toss. She fights until the end. She wasn’t giving me much. That’s why in the end I was a little in disbelief that I actually came through”, said Tomljanovic. 

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WIMBLEDON: Simona Halep Impresses After Troublesome Physical, Mental Battle

2022 has been far from straightforward for the Romanian but she is seeing light at the end of the tunnel at The All England Club.

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For Simona Halep reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon is an achievement in itself after her recent misfortunes. 

 

It all began at the Italian Open last year where she sustained a calf injury that would force her to miss two major events, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games. Recovering from the setback was far from simple for the former world No.1 who soon found herself struggling mentally to the extent that she considered walking away from the sport altogether.

However, she managed to regain her desire and passion for tennis with the help of Patrick Mouratoglou who has officially been her coach since April. Halep continues to work her way back to top shape and her form at Wimbledon proves perseverance pays off. 

Playing her fourth round match against fourth seed Paula Badosa, Halep stormed to an emphatic 6-1, 6-2, win in just over an hour. She dropped only two points behind her first serve and hit 17 winners against just nine unforced errors. It is the third time this year she has beaten a top 10 player after previously beating Badosa on another occasion, as well as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

“It means a lot that I’m back in the quarterfinals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” said Halep.
“I’m working hard every day. I feel like if I do that, I will get better. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. I’m really confident. It’s a pleasure to be on the court.”
“I think this helps me a lot to be able to do my best tennis. And everything comes together. I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally.”

Speaking openly about her previous struggles, injury and confidence are two very different issues to deal with. But which one of those was the most difficult?

“It started with the injury, so I was not able to play for three, four months. Then I also lost the confidence, the belief that I can be good again, at the top. And I struggled for a long period,” she continued.
“But now it’s past. I’m here. I’m playing well. I’m feeling good on the court. So this is the most important thing, and I just want to focus on that.”

It is by no means a coincidence that Halep is thriving at Wimbledon considering her previous record. It was in 2019 when she produced a stunning display against Serena Williams to capture the title. Becoming the first and only player from her country to claim the women’s singles title. She has also reached the quarter-finals on three other occasions prior to this year.

“Grass is not an easy surface and you have to really connect with it. You have to get used to it.” Said Halep.
“I like it because it’s fast. I feel it. I feel stable on my feet. My legs are pretty strong for this surface. I feel my game fits it.”

As the only former Grand Slam champion left in the draw, Halep’s next test will be against Amanda Anisimova who defeated Harmony Tan 6-2, 6-3, in her fourth round match.

“I’m here to play as I did today, to focus on myself,” she states.
“I’m sure that I can play good tennis again. But it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward to it.”


Halep recently crushed Anisimova 6-2, 6-1, at the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. 

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Wimbledon: Quarter-Finalist Cristian Garin loves The Event But Not So much The Surface

The South American reacts to reaching his first major quarter-final.

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Cristian Garin (CHI) - Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Just over a week ago, Cristian Gain admitted that he was ‘upset’ when he saw his draw for Wimbledon this year. 

 

The world No.43 was set to take on the formidable Matteo Berrettini in the first round who has won two grass-court titles in a row in recent weeks. However, the Italian was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Instead, his opponent was the much lower-ranked Elias Ymer from Sweden who he defeated in straight sets. Since then, Garin hasn’t looked back.

On Monday at The All England Club, he staged an audacious comeback to defeat Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(10-6). Not only did Garin bounce back from two sets down, he also saved two match points in the process. Becoming the first player from his country to reach the last eight of the tournament since Fernando Gonzalez in 2005 and only the fourth in history to do so. 

“It is something very special for me. Wimbledon is my favorite tournament. Every time that I play this tournament is something special I feel,” said Garin.
“To be in the quarterfinals is a dream. I will try to enjoy it. I will try to give my best in the next round.”

Ironically Garin comes from a country where there are no grass courts. This year is his fifth appearance at Wimbledon and it was at the event where he made his Grand Slam debut back in 2017. However, like many other South Americans, clay is still his preferred surface.

“I said Wimbledon is my favorite tournament, not my favorite surface,” he jokes. 
“I think the grass is very fun for me. I have to change a little bit the way that I play. I think here on this surface you have to be aggressive.

Garin is one of only five ATP players from Chile currently ranked in the world’s top 500. Since April he has been coached by Pepe Vendrell who previously worked as a mentor to Roberto Bautista Agut and served as Spain’s captain in the ATP Cup. 

The next test for Garin will be a showdown against the formidable Nick Kyrgios who defeated Brandon Nakashima in his fourth round match.

“He is for me one of the guys that I like to watch. He’s very good for tennis,” he said of Kyrgios.
“In these rounds, you play the best. For me, Nick is obviously one of the best on grass.”

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