French Open 2015: Preview of the women’s draw

The 2015 clay court season is about to reach a chrescendo as Roland Garros looms on the horizon with main draw action set to begin on Sunday. I’m heading to Paris on Saturday and will be at RG for the first two days, which i’m a little bit excited about! I’ll try and get some photos up on the blog. I’ll be posting on my dedicated Twitter and Facebook pages so please give me a follow if you’re not already! I sound like a broken record but it really will be a fascinating fortnight and Moo’s Tennis Blog will be following it every step of the way. Let’s take a look at the draw…

Serena’s eighth

Serena WilliamsSerena Williams headlines yet another Grand Slam draw and her first match of the week in Paris will be against qualifier, Andrea Hlavackova.  Serena’s clay court season hasn’t gone exactly to plan. For the first time since 2011, Serena heads into Roland Garros without a clay court title. Serena was defeated by Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals of Madrid. Although it was a first loss against Petra and a poor performance from the world number one, on a fast clay court against a player who can zone, it was hardly a bad loss. In fact it was Serena’s first loss of the entire year. In Rome, she pulled out of her third round match against Christina McHale with an elbow injury.

Last year, Serena didn’t lose a match on clay before Roland Garros and lost in the second round against Garbine Muguruza. In contrast, before the Australian Open this year she was very unconvincing at the Hopman Cup with a series of ragged displays, yet two weeks later, she was crowned champion in Melbourne for the sixth time, coming through an at times, challenging draw. Message of the story… Serena’s pre-Grand Slam form is not always a solid indicator!

Serena’s draws are always difficult to evaluate because on her day, she beats everyone. When you put that aside, this is a testing draw.  The placement of Victoria Azarenka was always going to be a talking point. I’d already written down Caro-Vika third round as it seemed inevitable but lo and behold, a potential third round match between Serena and Vika is on the cards. It’s a shame that Azarenka has once again drawn a stinker.  This quarter also features one of the most eye-catching first round matches between Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens. This match is made all the more compelling in that they’ve never played each other; the pair were set to meet in a hotly anticipated third round match in Miami two years ago but Venus was forced to pull out with a back injury.

Caroline’s eighth

WozniackiCaroline Wozniacki is the number five seed and is seeded to meet Serena in the quarters.  The Dane surged in Stuttgart, playing some aggressive and convincing tennis. Since then the attention has simmered. She was once again dealt a rough draw, playing Victoria Azarenka in her first match in Rome. The Dane has lost all three matches the pair have played this year including at the Australian Open. This time round, Caro missed Vika although her draw is by no means a walk in the park. In the first round, she will play Karin Knapp who has rebounded superbly well from a nervy loss to Petra Kvitova in Rome (led 5-2 third set but lost in a third set tiebreak) to reach the final in Nurnberg without dropping a set in four matches.

Wozniacki is projected to meet Jelena Jankovic in the third round; the pair have followed similar-ish paths in their career but it is Jankovic who has had the far superior results on clay. Sara Errani and Andrea Petkovic are also worth a mention in this section. Errani has reached at least the quarters in the last three years, while Petkovic made the last four this year. Petkovic beat Errani in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros last year, 6-2 6-2. A mixture of illness and injury has thwarted Petko’s clay court campaign this year which is such a shame because she played an excellent match against Flavia Pennetta in the first round of Madrid and was in good form.

Petra’s eighth

KvitovaPetra Kvitova has landed as the highest seed in an intriguing second quarter.  Kvitova won Madrid and then reached the quarters of Rome, getting a couple more wins under her belt. As much as I like Petra, I don’t believe the win in Madrid makes her a title contender considering how much the conditions differ between Madrid and Paris. Take nothing away from Petra though as a win in her second tournament back following a spell on the sidelines due to exhaustion was a rather superb effort. It does however give me good vibes for Wimbledon. Kvitova’s draw has it’s dangers; she will play Marina Erakovic in the first round, who she last played at Roland Garros in 2014. A third round tie against Irina-Camelia Begu would be a tough match. Begu was very impressive against Azarenka in Rome and has rather quietly snuck a seeding.

There are two players lurking in Petra’s eighth that have beaten her this year. Timea Bacsinszky and Madison Keys are seeded to meet in the third round with the winner of that section set to meet Kvitova in the last 16. In the Madi-Timea section of eight players, you also have the likes of Belinda Bencic, Daniela Hantuchova, Taylor Townsend, Tereza Smitkova, Lara Arruabarrena and Varvara Lepchenko, who are all noteworthy on their day. A potential Bencic-Keys second rounder would be fun.

Genie’s eighth

Eugenie BouchardEugenie Bouchard snapped a six match losing streak with a win over Zarina Diyas in Rome. However, it felt a like one step forward and two steps back as she lost a heartbreaker against Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round where she served for the win on three separate occasions.  Roland Garros and Wimbledon will be fascinating tournaments for Genie with BIG points to defend. Genie always peaks for the Slams but this time feels different. Bouchard’s pre-Roland Garros form hasn’t been that different to 2014 where she suffered first round exits in Madrid and Rome. It has been the nature of her losses though that have resonated somewhat.

Bouchard has one of the toughest openers she could have asked for against Kristina Mladenovic. The Frenchwoman has shown some promising signs during this clay court season. She qualified for Rome last week, reached the semi-finals of Marrakech and is in the final of Strasbourg, albeit with some help from withdrawals. Mladenovic is also not afraid of the upset, after taking out Na Li last year in the first round of Roland Garros. I’ve been way off before on these kind of matches, but I feel confident that Mladenovic can deliver another top ten upset.

The other seeds in Bouchard’s section are Karolina Pliskova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Zarina Diyas. The number 32 seed, Diyas, inflicted a double bagel on Sabine Lisicki in Stuttgart but has done very little either side of that, as she continues to float well under the radar. Kuznetsova and Pliskova are seeded to meet in the third round. The Russian player had a marvellous week in Madrid where she reached the final with solid wins all the way through from Ekaterina Makarova in the first round to Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals. Svetlana will probably find some way to mess it up… hands up who would not be surprised if she lost to Kiki Bertens in the first round?! My hand was up then. If there is anywhere on tour that Kuznetsova could be referred to as vaguely reliable then it’s Roland Garros. Kuznetsova has reached back-to-back quarter-finals in Paris and hasn’t lost before the third round since 2003. There’s always time for that to change with Kuznetsova but i’m willing to take that risk that this could be another great tournament for her.

Simona’s eighth

HalepSimona Halep opens against Evgeniya Rodina and on paper, has a very favourable draw. The Romanian player had a sensational run between Shenzhen to Miami, posting a 24-2 W-L record. This form hasn’t quite translated onto clay with Halep going 5-3 with losses to Caroline Wozniacki (Stuttgart), Alize Cornet (Madrid) and Carla Suarez Navarro (Rome). Halep’s eighth features Alize Cornet, Elina Svitolina and Agnieszka Radwanska. It feels so strange to me to see Radwanska as the number 14 seed as I am so used to her being a regulation top eight seed at a Grand Slam. Although she has had a poor year by her standards, Radwanska has only lost to one player outside of the top 40. A potential third rounder against Svitolina would be a tough one to call; a year ago, it would have been an Aga win for sure but now, nothing is a given. Halep could meet Cornet again in the third round although it’s worth pointing out that Cornet’s first round opponent, Roberta Vinci leads their head-to-head 4-0. Furthermore, Vinci won recently in Madrid and also made the final in Nurnberg, marking a return to some better form.

Ana’s eighth

Ana IvanovicIt’s surprising how many of the 2014 year ending top ten are struggling this year. Ana Ivanovic can definitely be lumped into that category. The Serb lost two tight three setters in Madrid and Rome to Carla Suarez Navarro (7-5 1-6 6-4) and Daria Gavrilova (5-7 7-6 7-6) respectively. Ivanovic fought hard in both matches but there were some concerning signs in her match against Gavrilova as her serve started to falter by the end. Last year, Ivanovic headed into Roland Garros with much expectation after playing some great tennis in Rome. This time, coach-less and not in great form, the pressure won’t be so intense.

Ivanovic’s first match will be against Yaroslava Shvedova. Once again, Ivanovic will be cursing the draw gods as Caroline Garcia is a potential third round opponent. Ivanovic’s season since Australia has been characterised by three losses to Garcia in Monterrey, Indian Wells and Stuttgart. Ivanovic thumped Garcia at Roland Garros last year, 6-1 6-3. Garcia remains an enigma on tour producing a variety of results, week in, week out. Her performances in Madrid and Rome demonstrate this quite nicely as she produced a scintillating display to beat Karolina Pliskova and then came close to upsetting Maria Sharapova in Madrid. In Rome, she lost in the second round to Bojana Jovanovski. I wonder how Garcia will cope with playing in front of a home crowd as she hasn’t handled pressure all that well in her career. Still, she has potential with this draw to do something special. This section is actually pretty light with Ekaterina Makarova the other seed of note. Makarova’s season has tailed off since Dubai, with a 7-7 W-L record. The qualifier, Teliana Pereira, who could play Makarova in the second round is one to keep an eye out for.

Carla’s eighth

Carla Suarez NavarroCarla Suarez Navarro has been arguably the most consistent player on the WTA tour this year. The only tournament where she failed to reach the quarter-finals was the Australian Open. Carla has compiled together a 31-10 W-L record. She reached the final in Rome last weekend where she produced her best performances of the year, beating three top ten players in a row before running out of steam in a three set finale against Sharapova. I think Carla will be vulnerable early on after a gruelling run in Rome but if she can make it through the first two or three rounds, she should not be discounted. Suarez Navarro will play Monica Niculescu in the first round which isn’t an ideal match-up given Niculescu’s funkiness. Carla though, leads the head-to-head, 3-0. The other three seeds in this section, Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza and Flavia Pennetta are all worthy of having a deep run. However, they also have their concerns. Pennetta has lost her last three matches, while Kerber was forced to pull out of her semi-final match in Nurnberg with a back injury and Muguruza didn’t play Rome due to injury.

Maria’s eighth

Maria SharapovaBookending the draw is the number two seed, Maria Sharapova.  After winning the most recent clay court tournament in Rome, Sharapova continued her excellent record on the clay courts. She hasn’t failed to win a clay court title since 2009. While she didn’t play a Serena or a Simona in Rome, Maria got five matches under her belt and arrives in defence of her Roland Garros crown in good form. Sharapova’s section has its pitfalls and right from the get go. In the first round, she plays Kaia Kanepi. The Estonian player has been up and down this year, mainly due to injuries. She has the ability to peak and it will require Sharapova to be on her game from the first round.

Even more appetising is a potential third rounder against Sam Stosur. The pair met in the last 16 in 2014, as Sharapova hung in the match before breaking the Aussie’s defences in the third set to win, 3-6 6-4 6-0. Stosur didn’t win back-to-back matches this year until Madrid although now she seems to be finding some momentum after reaching the final in Strasbourg. In the pursuit to be Sharapova’s prospective fourth round opponent, there are first rounders between Lucie Safarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Sabine Lisicki and Monica Puig… chuck in Rome semi-finalist, Daria Gavrilova and it’s tough to pick out a player to come through.

QF Predictions: S.Williams v Wozniacki, Bacsinszky v Kuznetsova, Garcia v Halep, Suarez Navarro v Sharapova

SF Predictions: S.Williams v Kuznetsova, Halep v Sharapova

Final Prediction: S.Williams d. Halep

As always, come at me with your predictions and thoughts on this draw 🙂

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography, Omar Boraby and Moo’s Tennis Blog

39 thoughts on “French Open 2015: Preview of the women’s draw

  1. I like your predictions.
    I havent had a really good look through, but I’m pegging Serena as the winner (obviously) for all the reasons you listed. I think having a tough draw will give her the focus she lacked last year. She doesn’t tend to lose blockbuster matchups like Azarenka, Venus and Wozniacki.

    My two bold predictions this tournament is that Sharapova and Halep both fail to make the semi finals. I’m almost positive one will fall. I fancy Ivanovic’s chances of making the semi’s IF she can get past the first three rounds. I think Sharapova and Halep have some dangerous underdog type players in their draws- Ivanovic, CSN, Garcia, Muguruza, Gavrilova.
    I also think Kvitova remains a huge question mark and in a quarter with some terrific dirt ballers…


    • Im getting similar vibes! it definitely feels like Sharapova and Simona have had relatively underwhelming results at the lead up events, as they only share one title between them! Id peg Simona to be more susceptible to an early round exit, as Sharapova manages to grind out those tough wins regardless of how well her opponent is playing.
      I do feel, however, that Petra will go farther than she went last year (3rd round), it all goes down to how unscathed the winner of Keys V Bacsinszky encounter is by the time they play her.


  2. I think your predictions are much too in line with seeding at the slam with the highest amount of failure. Recent AO champs have not fared well at RG and I don’t think Halep is capable of beating any top 10 player on good form. My predictions are as follows:

    QFs: S.Williams v Wozniacki, Kvitova v Kuznetsova, Garcia v Halep, Suarez Navarro v Stosur
    SFs: Wozniacki v Kuznetsova, Halep v Suarez Navarro
    Final: Wozniacki d. Suarez Navarro


    • Wozniacki? I think that’d be a pretty shocking win! She has a pretty rough draw. Goerges, Jankovic, Errani/Petkovic and then Serena/Venus/Vika. Then facing Kvitova/Kuznetsova/Pliskova/Bacsinszki. Then a final…


      • I don’t really rate Georges as a decent player. JJ always does worse in slams, lots of Petkovic’s/Errani’s decent results are through taking advantage of others failure. Venus is no threat on clay. Pliskova/Bacsinky yet to prove themselves in slams. Kvitova/Kuznetsova will probably be tired by the SF stage. QF is Serena’s most common stage of defeat and she usually loses to someone yet to beat her in a slam.


      • If we’re gonna look at stats then I’ll remind you that Wozniacki is 13-8 at RG and only ever gotten to one QF in those eight trips. And aside from that QF loss (to Schiavone) she’s lost to pretty average, low ranked players.


    • IF Wozniaki win the French Open , Thomas will will the French Open on the men side and pigs will fly. On both the men and women side no new first time Grand Slam winners will emerged .


      • I understand her poor record but she is playing relatively well & is under the radar – the perfect match. I believe 1 of the men’s & women’s events will be won by an outsider & I think it will be her. Anyway, I hope Sharapova wins.


    • I think you underestimate Simona. Sure, she’s had problems beating Serena & Sharapova, but in the last 2 years she is 12-5 against other Top 10 players. We could argue about your “good form” point forever, but those stats suggest Simona has been bringing her game more in such match-ups than her opponents have.

      A Simona-Sharapova SF looks very likely to me. I hope Simona’s ready for her this time. I think the top half SF is harder to predict, given Serena’s propensity to fall early at Roland Garros. Pick one of a few others who could also make the final.


      • I’m not underestimating her, she has it in her to win it. I just have a gut feeling that she’s going to exit 3/4/QF


      • Andrew, I was replying to Vithun who said “I don’t think Halep is capable of beating any top 10 player on good form.” 🙂 Hence my stats. But yeah, maybe I should have made it clearer given the number of posts here.


  3. I’m picking Serena to win because she will be focus. She dropped out of Rome to make sure she walk away with the ultimate price. Why Vika was not put in Halep or Bouchard section? Serena , Caro, Sharapova and Venus keep getting Vika. I find Vika very annoying this year.


    • You’re right, she’ll oust Serena this time. One cannot choke two times in a row, especially such a fine player like Vika. Her style has much more variety than Serena’s overpowered ball.


      • With all respect to Vika, she’s choked plenty of times… she’s lost several matches where she’s had match point.


  4. Serena will win, Sharapova will make it to the semis at least, Simona will fall early (4th round or the QF’s), Petra will make it to the QF’s, Wozniacki will fall relatively early, Bouchard will definitely fall early, Ivanovic will lose a tight one to Garcia again, and CSN will disappoint.
    Players to watch: Bacsinszky, Pliskova, Garcia and Gavrilova.


    • Those predictions show to me suggest that you understand the wta. There tends to be upsets but not shocking upsets in the first couple of rounds which you have shown with ivanovic and wozniacki . There tends to be a player like auarez navarro who does well in the lead up tournaments and disappoints in the grand slam. Those predictions are probably right going by how women’s tennis is in grand slams


    • Bacsinszky is one to watch this year. Garcia will do well if she can overcome her mental weakness. Pliskova I really doubt she can do well in RG.


  5. Expect unexpected results again. Of all the seeds mentioned in the above. Halep really has a “cake” draw this time.


    • What’s a cake draw? I think Ivanovic is probably happy that she landed Halep of the four top seeds and if they do meet she has a fairly good chance at coming through.


      • I think playing on home soil would work against Garcia against Ivanovic. And I think Ana would feel like the underdog after 3 losses. Her last win against Garcia was here last year and it was a pretty convincing win.


  6. Interesting draw. I have a feeling Serena will not make it to the semis; her form has not been great, and RG is not exactly her favorite tournament. She’ll probably fall either to Vika or to Caro.
    On the bottom half, I fully expect a Simona – Maria semi.


      • I’d like Bacsinszky and Garcia to make the semi’s too. I think Ivanovic may get the better of Garcia here at the French though.


  7. I would love to know the reasoning behind Halep beating Maria in the semis. I don’t see it happening (knock on wood). They’ve played 5 times, yes they were close, but Maria has won them all. I don’t think Simona has the mental ability to beat her. She could have won the title last year, but she couldn’t compete with Maria’s physical and mental toughness.


      • She needs to realise that being a professional tennis player is about more than simply playing tennis. I think she’d do well to employ a good sports psychologist to get her thinking like a champion. Right now she’s wasting what would be a #1 game. If she got her shit together I’m not even sure Serena could cope with her because she’s solid in every aspect of her game technically.


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