Tuesday saw a huge shock in the womens draw as Li Na, the number two seed, was tumbled out in three sets by Kristina Mladenovic, 7-5 3-6 6-1. It came as such a surprise because Mladenovic, though talented, has done barely anything of note in singles this year. Apart from a top ten win over Simona Halep in Paris, her accomplishments have predominantly come in doubles. Second round action begins on Wednesday and I wish I had a little bit more time to preview some more matches because the line-up is impressive. I’m really hoping to get back from work in time for Alize Cornet against Taylor Townsend.
Polls: In the “who do you think will win RG” polls, Djokovic was a clear favourite for the mens with 54%, followed by Nadal with 23% and Nishikori on 6% (oh). For the womens, 26% went with Serena, 22% Halep and 13% Sharapova.
TFF Dream Team Update: Early days but after the first round, Grand Slammers is in front, Moo is in 2nd (woo) and BK is in 3rd place. Things change rapidly from day to day so expect to see new team names after every day 😉
1. Angelique Kerber v Varvara Lepchenko (WTA Roland Garros, R2)
One of Wednesday’s more potentially competitive matches will feature Varvara Lepchenko and Angelique Kerber. Lepchenko has enjoyed an improved run of form in the last two months and surprisingly, took out Petra Cetkovska without any drama, 6-4 6-1. You can read my recap of that match HERE. Kerber’s results have been shaky during the clay court season. Jetlag was probably to blame for her early loss in Stuttgart and then a back injury forced her to retire in Madrid. In Rome she looked fully fit, but was unable to consolidate a break lead in the deciding set of her second round match with Cetkovska, which she lost. Last week, Kerber fell in the quarter-finals of Nurnberg to Karolina Pliskova.
Lepchenko and Kerber have a very curious head-to-head, which Varvara leads 4-1. It is worth pointing out that those four wins for Lepchenko came between 2007 and 2011 before Kerber made her gigantic strides up the rankings. Kerber won their most recent match, an epic third round match at Roland Garros last year, 6-4 6-7(7) 6-4. This match-up is obviously a good one for Lepchenko and despite losing for the first time last year to Angie, that match was incredibly close. Kerber’s confidence won’t be peaking despite a 6-3 6-1 victory over Katarzyna Piter in the first round. Lepchenko is terribly erratic, but has proven in pulses this year, mainly in the last month, what an excellent player she can be. This could be a deceptively tricky match for Kerber.
Prediction: Lepchenko d. Kerber in 3 sets
2. Sabine Lisicki v Mona Barthel (WTA Roland Garros, R2)
Sabine Lisicki and Mona Barthel will square off in what should be a heavy hitting second round encounter in Paris. Barthel had written on her FB page last month about feeling depressed on the court after a woeful start to 2014. Her season has started to flip though after pushing Jelena Jankovic in a tremendous first round match in Stuttgart. Since then, she qualified for Rome, reached the quarter-finals of Nurnberg and secured a straight sets win over Karin Knapp in the first round at Roland Garros, 6-4 6-0. Lisicki’s form has also been improving after several months of niggly injuries, which prevented her from gaining any momentum. On Monday, she won the first set handily, stuttered in the second set, but came through in two to beat French wildcard Fiona Ferro, 6-1 7-5. Lisicki won their only previous match back in 2012 in Auckland, 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3. They paired up together to win the title in Stuttgart in 2013. Mona is playing so much better and with more confidence. I could see her pulling this one out of the bag; however I’d give the very slight edge to Sabine, assuming she fit and healthy.
Prediction: Lisicki d. Barthel in 3 tight sets
3. Serena Williams v Garbine Muguruza (WTA Roland Garros, R2)
Serena Williams will face her first test of the fortnight as she takes on rising Spaniard, Garbine Muguruza in the second round. Serena defeated Alize Lim, 6-2 6-1 on Sunday; the scoreline was perhaps a little kind in Serena’s favour, but the result was never in doubt. Muguruza beat Grace Min in a very tight two setter, 7-5 7-5. Min had served for both sets. This was an excellent win for Muguruza, who has struggled at times, mentally, since her tremendous performances in Australia at the start of the year. Muguruza fully announced herself on tour with a first WTA title in Hobart and a run to the fourth round at the Australian Open. Her form and confidence has wavered since then. Serena defeated Garbine at last year’s Australian Open, 6-2 6-0. This match should be much tighter although I would still expect to Serena to win in straight sets.
Prediction: Williams d. Muguruza in 2 sets (1 easy, 1 tight)
WTA Roland Garros 2nd Round Predictions
Venus Williams d. Anna Schmiedlova in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Yaroslava Shvedova d. Pauline Parmentier in 2 tight sets
Dominika Cibulkova d. Tamira Paszek in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Sam Stosur d. Yvonne Meusburger in 2 sets
Paula Ormaechea d. Monica Niculescu in 3 sets
Maria Sharapova d. Tsvetana Pironkova in 2 sets (1 easy, 1 tight)
Agnieszka Radwanska d. Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets
Ajla Tomljanovic d. Elena Vesnina in 3 sets
Alize Cornet d. Taylor Townsend in 2 very tight sets
Carla Suarez Navarro d. Timea Bacsinszky in 2 sets
Flavia Pennetta d. Johanna Larsson in 2 sets
Eugenie Bouchard d. Julia Goerges in 3 sets
Claire Feuerstein d. Daniela Hantuchova in 3 sets