French Open 2015, R1 Previews: V.Williams v Stephens, Bouchard v Mladenovic

1. Venus Williams v Sloane Stephens (Roland Garros, R1)

StephensThe match that stood out to me most on the drawsheet from the selection of first round matches is in the top half featuring two Americans, Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens. The pair were set to meet in a highly anticipated third round match in Miami a few years ago but Venus was forced to pull out with a back injury. Therefore, this is a first career match-up between the pair. Venus has never been that successful on clay but she did notch a pair of wins in Rome against Katerina Siniakova and Elina Svitolina before falling to Simona Halep in straight sets. After producing some encouraging displays at Indian Wells and Miami, Stephens’s year had gone a little quiet again. This week in Strasbourg, Stephens had a decent run to the semi-finals, her first semi since the Australian Open in 2013.  Venus’s record at Roland Garros hasn’t been great in previous years and she hasn’t made it past the third round since 2010. However, i’d fancy Venus to be too solid and dynamic for Stephens in this match.

Prediction: V.Williams d. Stephens in 2 tight sets

2. Kristina Mladenovic v Eugenie Bouchard (Roland Garros, R1)

BouchardEugenie Bouchard heads into the next month with big points to defend at the two Grand Slams. Last year, Bouchard reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros and came close to reaching the final, eventually falling in three sets to Maria Sharapova. The last few months have been rough for Bouchard as she has won just three matches since the Australian Open where she began the year with a solid showing, reaching the quarter-finals. Bouchard lost in the first round in Madrid and Rome last year, but she did head into Paris with an injection of confidence after winning her first WTA title in Nurnberg. It has been the nature of her losses this year that have been worrying. Against Carla Suarez Navarro in Rome, Bouchard played her best set of tennis to win the opener, but shakiness prevailed after that as she failed to serve out the match on three occasions and eventually succumbed in an incredibly nervy third set tiebreak.

Bouchard’s opponent in the first round is Kristina Mladenovic who is no stranger to causing an upset. Last year, Mladenovic defeated Na Li in the first round of the French Open, 7-5 3-6 6-1. The Frenchwoman has already carved out some excellent doubles results, winning a total of 11 titles to date. This hasn’t quite translated into her singles game although she has enjoyed some better results in 2015. Her results on clay in particular have been good. Mladenovic reached the semi-finals of Marrakech, beating the number one seed, Garbine Muguruza in the second round. She lost in qualifying in Madrid and Rome although she did get into the main draw of Rome where she won a round and took a set off Ekaterina Makarova. This week, Mladenovic reached the final of Strasbourg, albeit with some help from withdrawals.

Mladenovic, boosted by a home crowd, has a real shot in this one. Bouchard won their only previous match in straight sets in Quebec City a few years back.  Mladenovic has the tendency to be very erratic from match-to-match so it will depend on what level she is at. Bouchard has adopted an ultra-aggressive gameplan of late and has been making streams of errors. I’ve come back slightly on my confidence of Mladenovic winning this, but I’d still fancy the Frenchwoman to come through with the upset win.

Prediction: Mladenovic d. Bouchard in 3 sets

Selected 1st Round RG Predictions

Serena Williams d. Andrea Hlavackova in 2 sets

Tsvetana Pironkova d. Barbora Strycova in 3 sets

Heather Watson d. Mathilde Johansson in 2 sets

Christina McHale d. Lourdes Dominguez Lino in 3 sets

Carina Witthoeft d. Katerina Siniakova in 3 sets

Sara Errani d. Alison Riske in 2 sets

Caroline Wozniacki d. Karin Knapp in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

Irina-Camelia Begu d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands in 3 sets

Timea Bacsinszky d. Lara Arruabarrena in 2 tight sets

Belinda Bencic d. Daniela Hantuchova in 2 sets

Madison Keys d. Varvara Lepchenko in 3 sets

Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Kiki Bertens in 3 sets

Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova d. Alison Van Uytvanck in 2 sets

Danka Kovinic d. Klara Koukalova in 3 sets

Ana Ivanovic d. Yaroslava Shvedova in 3 sets

Caroline Garcia d. Donna Vekic in 2 sets

Polona Hercog d. Shuai Peng in 2 sets

Yulia Putintseva d. Aleksandra Krunic in 2 sets

Elina Svitolina d. Yanina Wickmayer in 2 tight sets

Roberta Vinci d. Alize Cornet in 3 sets

Carla Suarez Navarro d. Monica Niculescu in 3 sets

Tatjana Maria d. Camila Giorgi in 2 sets

Ajla Tomljanovic d. Casey Dellacqua in 2 sets

Lucie Safarova d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets *don’t like this match-up for Lucie but I have faith!*

Daria Gavrilova d. Johanna Larsson in 3 sets

Sabine Lisicki d. Monica Puig in 3 tight sets

Sam Stosur d. Madison Brengle in 2 sets

Maria Sharapova d. Kaia Kanepi in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

13 thoughts on “French Open 2015, R1 Previews: V.Williams v Stephens, Bouchard v Mladenovic

  1. My only disagreements would be that I think Brengle will beat Stosur, Lepchenko will beat Keys and Stryzova will beat Pironkova. I also think Pavs could beat Safarova and Wickmayer could beat Svitolina

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  2. It is beyond me why people are convinced Halep will win. They overwhelmingly voted she’d win Madrid and Rome. Look what happened there. I don’t think she’ll even make it to the quarters. (knock on wood)

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    • Ha, you’re “knock on wood” gives you away. 😉 I thought you weren’t scared of Simona facing Masha in the semis?

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    • This is Halep’s year to win a slam. If she has to win a slam, she will have to do it this year, otherwise she may become the next Radwanska. I think if the draw goes in her favor, she has a definite chance. I am picking Serena to win this, but not entirely sure, Masha is my next pick. I like how Masha’s game has improved as she has aged.

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    • Well Serena’s draw just got potentially easier. Sloane Stephens meets Heather Watson in round 2 where she has a 0 – 4 record. I’d favour Heather to advance to the third round.

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  3. Just looked up your predictions, surprised that you had Venus through in straights. Sloane seems to like the euro swing of the tour especially the clay season so I was definitely 50/50 on that with the edge to Sloane since she had some decent warm up.

    No doubt in my mind Genie was going to lose. She is a shadow of herself. Her only redeeming grace now will have to be the grass she loves so much. The year is fast getting away from her.

    Can Serena win it, yes. Will she win it, maybe.

    Saw some glimpses of the refreshed Ana against Shvedova yesterday, hope she can maintain that attitude.

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    • I feel like my prediction of Ivanovic making the semi finals is slightly more secure after seeing highlights from the Shvedova match and Garcia being dumped out.

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      • I didn’t see Ivanovic’s match but from what i’ve heard and with her draw opening up, i’d agree your prediction looks to have much more traction now!

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      • Unless Ana balls it up like she did last year haha!

        Serena and Djokovic both look in great form thus far. Both getting tested enough to make it interesting in their first rounds, something they’ll need before the beginning of next week.
        Interestingly the Aus Open this year is the first slam they’ve ever won at the same time… bizarre since at least one of them has won at 12 of the last 17 Slams!

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