French Open 2018 – Match Thoughts & Polls

French Open SF Match Thoughts for Thursday

Simona Halep vs. Garbiñe Muguruza: Blockbuster semi-final with the world number one spot on the line! Muguruza leads Halep, 3-1 in their H2H and won their most recent match, 6-1 6-0 in a sad Cincy final. Muguruza has been brilliant so far this week and will likely head in the fave after she tore past Sharapova in the QFs. Halep scored a gritty win over Kerber, rallying from a set down and a slow start. It’s hard to look past Muguruza who has looked so incredibly focused and intense. I do think there’s a bit of a pressure off Halep because of how impressive Muguruza has looked so far and with the H2H, therefore going in as the slight favourite. I tend to think that Halep’s going to play a really gutsy match and build on the belief from her win over Kerber. However, i’m not sure it will be enough. I’m going for Muguruza in 3.

Sloane Stephens vs. Madison Keys: US Open final rematch! Best buds reunite in Paris where both are aiming to reach their second Slam final in the last three Slams. Since battling past Camila Giorgi in an extra-time finish, Stephens has dropped just six games against Kontaveit and Kasatkina. Keys hasn’t dropped a set throughout the tournament and has been extremely measured, fighting through a few wobbly finishes with impressive resilience. Stephens leads the H2H, 2-0 with a 6-3 6-0 win in New York where she so, so smart and solid. To be honest, I think Keys is really up against it in this match-up and i’m definitely favouring Stephens who looks zoned in and will be so challenging to break down. Keys has generally struggled against counter-punchers. I do hope I am wrong but I am going for Stephens in 2.

French Open SF Polls for Thursday

French Open QF Match Thoughts for Wednesday

Simona Halep vs. Angelique Kerber: The two QFs from the top half of the draw are 🔥🔥🔥. Both players had straightforward wins on Monday which hopefully means they are well rested for this clash. The last time that Halep and Kerber played was back in the semi-finals of the AO in one of the best matches of the year. Halep saved match points to prevail, 6-3 4-6 9-7. Their only clay court match was in Fed Cup action in 2016 where Kerber won, 6-2 6-2! If I remember correctly, I think Halep had an injury? I think Kerber’s in a great place right now and heads into this match without much pressure as reaching the QFs at her weakest Slam is a superb result for her. I think there’s more expectation on Halep and she does worry me as on occasion, has failed to get up for a big match. The R4 win over Mertens though was ideal and clearly was a confidence booster. I’m going for Simona in 3.

Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Maria Sharapova: Both players will be well rested for this clash with Sharapova getting the walkover from Serena and Muguruza playing just two games against Tsurenko. We were close to this match-up in Rome! Muguruza has looked in stunning form so far although has yet to really be pushed. Sharapova was in trouble in her opener against Hogenkamp but has since looked comfortable, swatting away Karolina Pliskova in the third round in what was a shocking scoreline to me. Sharapova leads the head-to-head, 3-0. The pair haven’t played in nearly four years since Muguruza claimed her two Slam wins. I’ve been convinced from the first round that Muguruza is a title contender this tournament and I haven’t changed my mind here. I’m excited for this match and to see how Muguruza adapts to the step up in standard against a player she has never beaten before.

French Open SF Polls for Wednesday

French Open QF Match Thoughts for Tuesday

Madison Keys vs. Yulia Putintseva: An unlikely QF based on form heading into RG. Keys has had late wobbles in her last two matches but is still yet to drop a set and has looked very much in control of her game. Putintseva has been so solid on the clay and very difficult to break down. She’s been in control of her emotions… so far! In their only previous meeting at tour level, Putintseva beat Keys in Tokyo in a third set tiebreak. I think this is a dangerous match for Keys has Putintseva will track down balls and likely inject variety. I like what i’ve seen from Keys so far and she has the much greater experience at this stage of a Slam. I’m going for Keys.

Sloane Stephens vs. Daria Kasatkina: I really like this match-up. I’m thrilled for Dasha that’s she finally finding her best form on clay having been hyped on this surface. Her win over Caroline Wozniacki was her seventh top ten win of the season, but her first at a Slam. Stephens was solid heading into RG but certainly hadn’t hit top form in any of the clay court tournaments. The American survived a nailbiter against Camila Giorgi in the third round and eased past Anett Kontaveit in the fourth round.

The pair are tied at 1-1 in their H2H with Kasatkina beating Stephens, 6-4 6-3 in Indian Wells earlier this year. I think that Stephens has improved since that tournament and enjoyed a lot of match time. I think both like the clay and move well on this surface. It’s tough for me to pick out a winner without being biased as I am a Dasha fan! I’m a tad wary of how Dasha will cope with the occasion but if she play positively and with variations in pace then I think she can do it.

French Open QF Polls for Tuesday

French Open R4 Match Thoughts for Monday

Simona Halep vs. Elise Mertens: I’m glad we get to see Halep-Mertens again because Mertens was ill for their much anticipated clash in Madrid. Mertens has snuck under the radar and become a pretty reliable seed since breaking through at the AO. Halep has been pushed in two of her three rounds but arrives in the second week mostly unscathed. I haven’t seen any of their matches so again, hard to provide a valid opinion! I’m not brave enough to go for an upset. I think Halep will prevail but I do think Mertens can make this a very tricky match indeed.

Caroline Garcia vs. Angelique Kerber: The last time that Garcia and Kerber met was at Indian Wells where Kerber was immense, dropping just the two games. Big props to both for their run here – Garcia has become very reliable at getting through the early matches at tournaments, while Kerber has had her best run at the French since 2014. Kerber was a little passive at times vs. Bertens but defended spectacularly. I think it will take something special from Garcia to win this. The Frenchwoman will need to go for her shots because I don’t see her outlasting Kerber from the baseline. I’m going for Angie.

Maria Sharapova vs. Serena Williams: Well hello there! Despite the one-sided H2H which is 19-2 in favour of Serena, this is still a real spectacle and will bring attention (not all positive!) to the women’s game. I’ve been very impressed with Serena’s level and to be honest, i’m not surprised to see her in the last 16. She is amazing. Sharapova was already being written off earlier this year but has really flourished again on the clay. There are no secrets with the match-up. I feel like Williams is better in every department and Sharapova seems to lack a plan B.  She’ll need to do something different – I don’t know what! Serena for the win.

Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Lesia Tsurenko: I’d be very, very, very surprised if Tsurenko were to upset Muguruza in this match. This is the WTA so i’m ready to be shocked. Muguruza has looked great this week and as long as she doesn’t underestimate Tsurenko then I don’t see any alarm bells.

French Open R4 Polls for Monday

French Open R4 Match Thoughts for Sunday

Madison Keys vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu: First time meeting on the tour with a first RG QF spot on the line. Buzarnescu is in uncharted territory at a Slam full stop. The Romanian player was stunning against Svitolina and held her nerve in the big moments. I wonder whether playing on PC will affect her mentally. Keys wobbled serving for the match vs. Osaka but showed resilience to finish it in two. Peak Buzarnescu is well and truly a thing but I do still question whether she can produce it again. Keys has nailed the consistency at the Slams but i’m not entirely convinced as she has looked shaky at times during the clay court season. I think i’d probably go for Keys 55-45 but a lot of question marks for this one.

Barbora Strycova vs. Yulia Putintseva: Three dramatic sets pleaseee! The pair have only played twice before with Strycova winning both their previous matches in straights. This is a most unlikely R4 match – Strycova hadn’t won since February before RG, while Poots had only once won back-to-back matches all year and only two matches on clay heading into RG. Poots had an amazing comeback in the last round and seems to thrive in Paris. Not much more to say from me, feel like Strycova takes this.

Sloane Stephens vs. Anett Kontaveit: First time meeting and looking forward to this one. Both had HUGE wins in the third round. Kontaveit snapped Kvitova’s latest run streak, managing to sneak through in two sets. Kontaveit has lost some heartbreakers at Slams in the past so this was a big win. Stephens battled past Giorgi in an extra-time finish, 8-6 in the third. I didn’t watch either matches so I can’t say my opinion is that valid! I had Kontaveit to the SFs in my draw and I feel that win over Kvitova could be a gamechanger for her.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Daria Kasatkina: Match of the day here. Wozniacki has absolutely sauntered through the draw without dropping a set and dishing an array of bagels and breadsticks. Kasatkina has broken new ground to reach the last 16 of RG. Kasatkina has beaten Wozniacki twice this year including a hard fought 6-4 7-5 win at Indian Wells earlier this year. I’m not sure Dasha’s performance level is quite where it was during the desert but she should be feeling confident. Woz hasn’t been challenged at all in the last two rounds so this will be a big step up. I’m a bit biased here as i’d love to see Dasha win. Tough match and fancy it to go three.

French Open R4 Polls for Sunday

French Open R3 Match Thoughts for Saturday

Simona Halep vs. Andrea Petkovic: Really pleased for Petko to be back in the third round of a Slam – first time since the 2015 US Open! Her reward is a semi-final rematch against the world number one. Halep seems to be settled into the tournament after a slow start against Riske in the first round. Halep’s won their last six matches with the last three going the distance. They haven’t played for over two years. I think Halep will take this rather routinely, perhaps one close set.

Elise Mertens vs. Daria Gavrilova: This match-up brings back memories from my time at the AO. We watched the first seven games of Gavrilova-Mertens from the second round and gave up at 00:30am. Gavrilova had made a brilliant start to go up 5-0. When we got back to the hotel, Mertens had won the first set! Mertens got ill in Madrid but she seems to be on her way at RG with two wins including a peak scoreline victory over Lepchenko, 6-7(11) 7-6(4) 6-0. Gavrilova saved a match point in her second rounder vs. Pera and has twice come from a set down. The pair played in the first round of RG last year with Mertens winning in three. Like both, favour Gavrilova to win a bit more personally, but I think Mertens will win tbh.

Angelique Kerber vs. Kiki Bertens: What a match-up. On any other surface it wouldn’t feel so intriguing but Bertens is an absolute beast on the clay. Her level during the first two rounds has been excellent and her movement continues to look exceptional on this surface. Kerber seems to be in a great place with her game and has finally broken through her recent gloom on clay by winning her first match in Paris since 2015. The pair are tied at 1-1 in their H2H with Bertens winning their last match in the first round of RG. As well as Kerber is playing, I think Bertens will be too dynamic on the clay. I’m going for Kiki.

Caroline Garcia vs. Irina-Camelia Begu: A mild upset alert with this one as I don’t think Garcia has been anywhere near peak in Paris. Begu’s best results have been on clay and she’s doing it again this year. I’ll go for CarGar in 3.

Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Sam Stosur: Now that Svitolina is out, i’d probably pick Garbi as my champ. I like the way she has started this tournament and pre-Slam form means nothing. Stosur has done superbly to reach the third round. I’m just not convinced she’ll have the consistency to stay with someone of Muguruza’s calibre.

French Open R3 Polls for Saturday

French Open R3 Match Thoughts for Friday

Madison Keys vs. Naomi Osaka: There will be a familar theme for these matches… I ain’t got a clue how they will unfold! The pair haven’t played in over a year with Keys winning their two previous matches. I think both have progressed since that encounter, especially Naomi. Both have had routine routes to the third round and are yet to drop a set. It’s certainly a #prayfortheballs match-up. Honestly could see it going either way. Based on instinct, i’d give a minor edge to Naomi. I kind of feel she’s due a win in this H2H.

Daria Kasatkina vs. Maria Sakkari: This match-up is causing me dilemmas! Dasha’s my favourite player left, but Maria was my wild pick of the tournament to reach the QFs. Kasatkina won their only previous match back in Bucharest nearly three years ago in a qualifying match. I’m a bit worried for Kasatkina as she’s still liable to sit back and be passive at times, and she wasn’t exactly clinical against Flipkens despite winning in straights. Sakkari has a great intensity to her game and I feel she could come out aggressive and put Kasatkina on the back foot. We’ll see how this goes… i’m sitting on the fence with this one.

Yulia Putintseva vs. Wang Qiang: Not much to say on this one. Wang Qiang was superb against Martic but I felt the Croatian player had an issue. Putintseva has been really steady through two rounds and looks hard to beat. I’m going for Poots in 3.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Pauline Parmentier: Parmentier won via retirement when the pair last played in Istanbul with the Frenchwoman going on to win the title. Parmentier has won both her matches this week from a set down. Woz has looked very solid so I don’t see any upset alert here. Woz in 2.

Elina Svitolina vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu: Svitolina has looked decent so far after a slow start against Tomljanovic. Buzarnescu is doing so, so well on the tour right now and has won her first ever Slam matches as a seed! I wonder whether Buzarnescu could hold her nerve if she got into a winning position. She seems to get very frustrated when things don’t go her way on the court. I’m going for Svits in 2 with one tight set.

Barbora Strycova vs. Katerina Siniakova: Oh my goodness this could be epic. Strycova leads the H2H, 2-1 and won their last match in Prague in three sets last year. Siniakova’s third round showing here is her best result at a Slam for nearly two years. She’s got a potent game but I feel Strycova, who has put that losing streak well behind her, will be the steadier of the two.

Sloane Stephens vs. Camila Giorgi: I watched their last match in Sydney which has to be one of the worst matches I have ever watched live haha. Stephens was dreadful but it was her first match of the year. There should be no surprises for Stephens in the way that Giorgi plays. I feel this one will depend on Stephens’s footwork and energy, which has been suspect at times during the clay court season. If she’s on it then I think she can soak up pressure but any flatness and Giorgi’s likely to take this.

Petra Kvitova vs. Anett Kontaveit: While excited for the contest, i’m alsoo rather bummed these two have to meet so early. Kvitova was pushed hard by VCR in her first rounder but never really looked panicked. Kontaveit hasn’t had it easy through her first two rounds but found a way through. Kvitova leads the H2H, 2-0 with come-from-behind wins in Cincy (2017) and Madrid (2018). I’m so torn with this one because I really like them both! I’ll stick with my initial draw and go for Kontaveit.

French Open R3 Polls for Friday

French Open R2 Match Thoughts for Thursday

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Andrea Petkovic: A blast from the past! BMS won just her second singles match back from the horrendous knee injury with a superb win over Nurnberg champ, Johanna Larsson. I think that result got lost in the ether because that’s a fab win for BMS. Petkovic maintained her 100% record against Mladenovic with a superb performance in the first round. The pair are tied at 2-2 in their H2H but haven’t played each other in over four years. Expecting an epic hug at the end of this one. I’ll go for Petkovic.

Daria Gavrilova vs. Bernarda Pera: One of my fave match-ups of the day. Gavrilova has played 12 three setters this year and was taken the distance again on Monday, scrapping hard and throwing in enough variety to get past Cirstea. Pera has been a revelation this year and eased past Vesnina in straight sets. The fact that this result wasn’t an upset speaks volumes. As much as I do like Gavs, i’d take Pera with the upset here. She seems comfortable on the clay and has a very sound game.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Sam Stosur: A rematch from Madrid here where Stosur served her way to victory, 6-1 6-7(2) 6-3. Pavs has suddenly picked up her form after winning Strasbourg and a crazy final against Cibulkova. I’m still siding with Stosur at RG as the conditions are perfect for her game.

Ash Barty vs. Serena Williams: Fascinated by this one! Barty’s never hit her best form this year but continues to impress. In her first full clay court season, she seems to have become more accustomed to playing on this surface. I don’t see why Barty can’t succeed on this surface. Serena’s serve was the big plus from her first round match against Kr. Pliskova. I think Barty will be a step up. Leaning towards Serena in three.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Lucie Safarova: Thrilled to see Lucie get a first round win… but not Karolina in R2! This has not been a good match-up for Lucie with Karolina leading the H2H, 6-2. Common sense would suggest Karolina will win this one based on recent matches. Lucie is still making her way back from a long layoff due to illness. In her favour, she’s comfortable on the clay and shouldn’t feel any pressure/expectation. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Lucie to spring an upset. I hope she can at least put up some resistance.

French Open R2 Polls for Thursday

French Open R2 Match Thoughts for Wednesday

Katerina Siniakova vs. Kateryna Kozlova: What most guessed would be Azarenka vs. Ostapenko turned out to be Siniakova vs. Kozlova. This presents a huge opportunity with both players vying to reach the third round of the French Open for the first time in their career. For Kozlova she’s trying to reach the third round of a Slam for the first time. I’ve always liked Siniakova but questioned whether she can keep a lid on her emotions. I didn’t watch it but sounds like Siniakova played a good match against Azarenka. Kozlova won their only previous meeting back in Tashkent in 2015. I would guess this won’t be straightforward for Siniakova but i’m leaning towards her. Siniakova in 3.

Barbora Strycova vs. Ekaterina Makarova: Strycova is the only seed left in the top section of the third quarter. I was impressed with how she closed out Nara on Sunday in her first win since February. Makarova had also been on a losing streak heading into RG but had no issues getting past Zheng Saisai in the first round. Strycova leads the H2H, 4-3 and won their last match at the start of the year in Sydney. I don’t know why but I thought Makarova was all over Strycova in the H2H. The pair have met just once on the clay all the way back in their first encounter in 2006 at a $25K ITF tournament. I would guess both are feeling a sense of relief. I like Strycova’s scrappiness to prevail in this match. Strycova in 2.

Petra Martic vs. Wang Qiang: Once again Martic has landed in a favourable section of a Slam draw. I’m all for it after what Martic has been through with injuries. The Croatian player has enjoyed a pretty decent year that has been headlined by fourth round at the AO and QFs at IW. She hasn’t won back-to-back matches since IW. Wang Qiang has not had a great year but will surely take confidence from beating Venus in the first round. I loved the photo from Jimmie48/Women’s Tennis Blog where she almost looked apologetic to Venus at the net! I think that Martic is more accomplished on the clay and has a more all round game. I would also guess that she’ll keep it together mentally a bit better. Martic is now my pick for the QFs from this section.

Madison Keys vs. Caroline Dolehide: Without doubt, this is my favourite match on Wednesday’s schedule. The 19-year-old, Dolehide has really impressed me this year with her all-round game that feels like a perfect match for the clay. Dolehide came through qualifying and then won her first Slam main draw match against Golubic in straight sets. Keys has had a mixed year with a couple of shockers along the way. The biggest positive is that she seems to be progressing well health-wise with seemingly no major issues with the wrist. The pair have actually played before last year in Stanford where Keys needed three sets to win, 3-6 6-2 6-3. Perhaps no surprises here but i’m going for the upset. Dolehide is still somewhat of an unknown quantity which makes her dangerous. Keys should know her game but has generally been unconvincing during this clay court season and looked vulnerable at times.

Elina Svitolina vs. Viktoria Kuzmova: I’m super intrigued by this one. Kuzmova has a huge game that is going to take her far. The Slovak player won her first match a Slam on Sunday against Schiavone. Svitolina made a very slow start against Tomljanovic before powering through in straights. I think Svitolina will need to be on the ball in this one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kuzmova grab a set but i’d still go for Svits to prevail.

Daria Kasatkina vs. Kirsten Flipkens: Pleasantly surprised that Kasatkina overcame Kanepi in the first round. The draw’s there for Dasha to go deep but she’ll need to play well. I’m not too worried about this match for Dasha (famous last words!). Flipkens did play well in Nurnberg where she scored a win over Bertens.

Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Maria Sakkari: I remember watching CSN play Sakkari back at the AO when few knew Sakkari. CSN won on that day, 6-7 6-2 6-2 but Sakkari put up a great fight and got the crowd involved. CSN also won last year at the French Open in the first round in a match that escapes my memory. This should be a good one as CSN is arguably at her best on the clay and Sakkari is vastly improved. I’d take a whirl with this one and go for Sakkari to score the upset.

French Open R2 Polls for Wednesday

French Open R1 Match Thoughts for Tuesday

R1 preview post for Muguruza-Kuznetsova, Bertens-Sabalenka and Goerges-Cibulkova up on the main page HERE

French Open R1 Polls for Tuesday

French Open R1 Match Thoughts for Monday

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Danielle Collins: Intrigued by this one. I watched Collins vs. Kasatkina in Rome and Collins was so positive. I could see the American grabbing a set in this one but ultimately would go for Wozniacki to prevail.

CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Laura Siegemund: Baffled by Vandeweghe leading the H2H, 3-0 because I would have thought Laura would drive CoCo mad with her varied game. A few question marks about how the knee his holding up. Depends on the conditions as wouldn’t give CoCo much chance if there’s rain and the conditions are heavy. I’ll go for the upset as CoCo looked defeated playing on clay in Rome before she’d even started the match.

Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Ana Konjuh: Thrilled to see Konjuh back and in time for the grass court season. Don’t give Konjuh much chance in her first match and on clay against someone as solid as CSN. No pressure though…

Bernarda Pera vs. Elena Vesnina: Nice match-up here and one of my faves of the day. I’ve watched so many Vesnina matches this year and it’s been a complete mixed bag. I’m not convinced Vesnina is comfortable on the clay. Pera has been one of the revelations of the year and has proven her upset of Konta in Melbourne was no flash in the pan. I’m going for Pera here and could see her going through a few rounds.

Daria Kasatkina vs. Kaia Kanepi: I so want Dasha to go deep in this draw but this first rounder concerns me GREATLY. Kanepi has twice beaten Kasatkina in the last year and is always dangerous. Dasha needs to step up and not back off into a defensive hole or she’s likely going out first round. I’ll keep my fingers crossed…

French Open R1 Polls for Monday

French Open R1 Match Thoughts for Sunday

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Kateryna Kozlova: Interestingly, Kozlova leads the head-to-head, 2-0! The pair haven’t played though since 2016 where Ostapenko has propelled up the rankings. Kozlova has lost her last five matches on tour. I’m fascinated to see how Ostapenko handles herself as the defending champion. I tend to think she’s going to do just fine and don’t see this one as an upset alert.

Ekaterina Makarova vs. Zheng Saisai: I always remember that Makarova struggles against Brengle so I’m wondering whether Zheng, who reached the final of the clay court event in Anning, may create some problems here with her game. Makarova is currently riding a five match losing streak and i’m curious to find out what has happened with her and Vesnina not playing together in the doubles tournament. I’ll take a whirl and go for Saisai.

Barbora Strycova vs. Kurumi Nara: Strycova comes into this match seeking to snap a 8-match losing streak that stretches back to Doha. The Czech player was superb in the first set of her opening round match in Rome, eventually falling away at a rather rapid rate to Sloane Stephens in three sets. Nara is a solid baseliner but has only played one tournament on clay at the ITF $100K in Trnava where she reached the quarter-finals. It will require patience but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to Strycova to snap the streak.

Jo Konta vs. Yulia Putintseva: This doesn’t feel like an ideal opener for Konta as we all know Poots can be a handful! The Kazakh player hasn’t had a great season but did knock out the top seed, Sloane Stephens in Nurnberg. Konta’s going for her first ever win at Roland Garros, while Putintseva is a former quarter-finalist back in 2016. I believe Konta’s better on clay than her recent results make out and she’s done OK on clay in 2018 with wins in both Madrid and Rome. Konta is speaking a good game in press and leads the head-to-head, 2-0. Hopeful for Jo that she can snap a streak here.

Venus Williams vs. Wang Qiang: This is a repeat first round French Open match from last year where Venus won, 6-4 7-6(3). Wang has had a so-so year – she made a breakthrough in 2017 where she broke into the world’s top 50 but seems to have plateaued a tad in her results and is now on the verge of dropping out of the world’s top 100. There’s no doubt for me that Wang has the shots to beat Venus on clay. I’m just not convinced at all by her mentality, focus and concentration, and I sense she still lacks belief at times. I’m going for Venus to scrap her way through.

Francesca Schiavone vs. Viktoria Kuzmova: Probably my favourite match of the day! Really pleased to see Schiavone qualify for the main draw and rather surprised she didn’t get a main draw wild card. Kuzmova is one of my “one to watch” players who I think will make a big breakthrough soon. I was impressed with what I saw earlier this year in St. Petersburg where she had Daria Kasatkina on the ropes for a time. Kuzmova won the ITF tournament in Trnava earlier this month. I think this match should produce a nice clash of styles. Schiavone’s already worked her magic in Paris to come through three qualifying rounds, having not won a match all year, and I tend to think she’ll keep winning here.

Elina Svitolina vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: Not too concerned about this match for Svitolina who heads into RG as one of the favourites. Tough to pick out a winner (as always) but I have ended with Svits as my champ. Tomljanovic has had a decent year with her best result coming in Rabat on the clay where she reached the final. I’ll go for Elina in straights.

Anett Kontaveit vs. Madison Brengle: Kontaveit leads the head-to-head, 2-0 and has looked in fantastic form. Always a tad wary with Anett but I think the confidence from her runs in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome will still be there and she can hit through Brengle.

Sloane Stephens vs. Arantxa Rus: The pair played earlier this year in Acapulco where Stephens saved a match point to prevail in three, 5-7 7-6(6) 6-0. Stephens has been a tad disappointing on the clay compared to how she ended the hard court season with another big title in Miami. The American has struggled on serve and generally looked flat. Rus will have nothing to lose as a lucky loser. Still, i’d be surprised if Sloane doesn’t win here.

Alizé Cornet vs. Sara Errani: Of all the first round matches on Sunday, this is the match that I am having the hardest time picking a winner. The pair have a colourful and memorable head-to-head (WHY YOU SAY VAMOS) with Errani leading 4-3, but Cornet winning their last two meetings in straight sets. Cornet has reached the fourth round twice in the last three years, while Errani is a former finalist. Cornet’s finally through the uncertainty of her missed drugs test so I would guess a weight has been lifted off her and she can play free. This could be a long one… 52-48 in favour of Errani.

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