After Ash Bary’s sudden retirement having just won the Australian Open, we’re in for an exciting Women’s French Open at Roland Garros. Andy Schooler looks ahead to the clay-court action.
You can read his men’s preview here.
World Number 1
Tournament history (most recent first): QF-W-4R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, 2020 French Open
2022 record: 37-3 (5 titles – Rome, Stuttgart, Miami, Indian Wells, Doha)
Claycourt form: W Rome, W Stuttgart
The hottest women’s Grand Slam favourite for many years – and you can see why.
Swiatek has won 28 consecutive matches, her last loss coming back in mid-February.
And it’s not just the number of wins but also the manner of them.
Swiatek has lost only one of the last 43 sets she’s played and of the 42 she’s won, 25 have had a scoreline of 6-2, 6-1 or 6-0.
That is dominance.
Throw in the fact that Swiatek is on her favourite surface at a venue she’s won at in the past and she looks very difficult to oppose.
World Number 19
Tournament history: DNP-4R-QF-W-RU-4R-2R-RU-1R-1R-2R-1R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, twice (1 at French Open)
2022 record: 19-6
Claycourt form: L32 Rome, QF Madrid
A former Roland Garros champion but one who has struggled with injuries in the past couple of years.
However, if fully fit, her claycourt nous will hold her in good stead.
The noises coming out of the Romanian’s camp are good on that front, the player herself declaring she “finally” is injury-free. “I feel refreshed, I feel more confident, I feel healthy,” she said this week.
With Serena Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou now part of her team, Halep is one player who may be able to challenge Swiatek.
She certainly gave her a decent match in the Miami Open semi-finals last month, losing only 7-6 6-4.
World Number 3
Tournament history: QF-4R
Best Grand Slam performance: Quarter-finals, 2021 French Open
2022 record: 22-10 (1 title – Sydney)
Claycourt form: L16 Rome, L32 Madrid, SF Stuttgart, QF Charleston
Having risen to third in the world rankings following a strong 2021 season, it’s fair to say that Badosa’s recent form has been a little underwhelming.
She did make the last four in Stuttgart but defeats to fellow Paris hopefuls Aryna Sabalenka and Simona Halep during the build-up to Roland Garros have left question marks over her title credentials.
Does have the ability to balance attack and defence, something she did well en route to the last eight here last season – and she probably should have beaten Tamara Zidansek that day.
Will likely need a kind draw to make a similar impression.
World Number 6
Tournament history: 4R-4R-1R-DNP-3R
Best Grand Slam performance: Quarter-finals, 2021 Wimbledon & 2020 Australian Open
2022 record: 25-8 (1 title – Madrid)
Claycourt form: RU Rome, W Madrid, QF Stuttgart, RU Charleston
Were it not for Swiatek, a lot more would be being said about the form of Jabeur, whose game, which blends power and touch to good effect, is well suited to the clay.
She’s played the four main claycourt warm-up events and made the final at three of them.
The Tunisian won in Madrid – the first African to win a title at that ‘1000’ level – albeit Swiatek wasn’t present that week.
It is perhaps her loss to the Pole in Rome which shows why she’s 16/1 here – Swiatek won 6-2 6-2 that day.
Still, there’s obvious each-way potential here, particularly if she manages to land in the opposite half to the world number one and hot favourite.
World Number 7
Tournament history: 3R-3R-2R-1R
Best Grand Slam performance: Semi-finals, 2021 US Open & Wimbledon
2022 record: 13-11 (0 titles)
Claycourt form: SF Rome, L64 Madrid, RU Stuttgart, L16 Charleston
The fact that Sabalenka has slipped down the rankings from second at the start of the year to her current position of seventh says much about her 2022 form.
Still, a move onto the clay seems to have improved her situation and she’s recently played in the final of Stuttgart and the semis in Rome.
Her go-for-broke game is the sort that might just be able to knock off the red-hot Swiatek but when the pair met at both aforementioned events, Sabalenka could win only four and three games respectively.
The Belarusian has also failed to go beyond the third round at Roland Garros in her four previous visits.
In short, there appear to be more likely winners.
Best of the rest
This is an event which has thrown up a big-priced winner on a fairly regular basis in recent times – think Jelena Ostapenko winning in 2017, Swiatek in 2020 or, last year, Barbora Krejcikova.
So, who has the potential to make a similar stunning run?
Of course, that’s a tough question to answer but a couple of candidates make some appeal.
Amanda Anisimova was a surprise semi-finalist here three years ago as a 17-year-old but a repeat would be less of a shock.
She was a semi-finalist in Charleston and quarter-finalist in both Madrid and Rome so there may be some juice in her 35/1 price.
Likewise, Ekaterina Alexandrova has made the last four in Charleston and Madrid with defeats to eventual champions Belinda Bencic and Ons Jabeur no disgrace.
The Russian will have her backers at 50/1 but each-way punters will probably want to wait for the draw, such is the looming shadow of Swiatek.
Prices of those on the opposite side of the draw to the Pole will undoubtedly be trimmed after Thursday night’s draw but that will also reflect their improved chances of making the final.