Roland Garros Panelist Predictions Women’s Day 1 Including Kvitova-Boserup

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Women’s day 1 at Roland Garros kicks off with Petra Kvitova returning to competitive tennis, while Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber also get their tournaments underway. Steen Kirby, Niall Clarke, and Sam Barker are on hand to predict the best matches of the day.

(15)Petra Kvitova vs Julia Boserup

Niall: It is great to see Petra back on tour in time for the French Open after her horrific knife attack. The Czech will undoubtedly be rusty when she returns to court, but I am sure many people will be rooting for her to win. It could be messy, but I think Kvitova will it in three. Kvitova in 3

Sam: Above and beyond the result of this match, how heart-warming will it be to see Petra Kvitova back on court after that horrific injury she suffered? Few have high expectations on her return but Julia Boserup is a kind first round draw. The American has won just four games in her two matches on clay this year and even a rusty Kvitova should battle through. Kvitova in 2

Steen: The 25 year old Boserup, like most Americans, has never been great on clay, and now she’s been thrust onto a massive stage against Kvitova, who for all the rust and likely form issues, will be playing off emotion and adrenaline, just a few months after surviving a horrific stabbing attack. No one knows how Kvitova will perform but Boserup is far from a challenging opponent on this surface. Kvitova in 3

(1)Angelique Kerber vs. Ekaterina Makarova

Niall: 2017 has been an uphill struggle for Kerber thus far, and with this draw it does not get any better for her. Makarova is a dangerous lefty who always seems to bring her best to Grand Slams, so this is arguably the most dangerous unseeded player she could have drawn. That said I am backing Kerber to win in three sets. Kerber in 3

Sam: It is an odd situation when you cannot make a convincing argument for the world #1 to certainly win her opening Grand Slam match but that is the case here. Angelique Kerber’s 2017 form has been worrying and few are backing her to make a deep run at Roland Garros. Ekaterina Makarova has hardly set the world alight on clay either but all the pressure will be on Kerber and that will be telling. Makarova in 2

Steen: Kerber has not been playing well and Makarova is a solid enough opponent who has shown she can win big matches like this. I could be totally wrong but I’ll go with an upset, as I have Makarova knocking off the top seed to start the tournament. Makarova in 3

(6)Dominika Cibulkova vs. Lara Arruabarrena

Niall: Despite being ranked 61 in the world, Arrubarrena is a difficult draw in the opening round of a clay court slam. Her game is naturally suited to the surface so I expect her to give Cibulkova a tough time and possibly cause the upset… in fact I am going for it and saying Cibulkova is an early exit. Arruabarrena in 3

Sam: Lara Arruabarrena is still waiting for that elusive first victory at the French Open and she will have to produce something sublime for that to happen this year. Dominika Cibulkova may be struggling to string a succession of wins together but her experience at this level will be telling and should see her advance to the second round. Cibulkova in 3

Steen: Cibulkova’s poor clay court season sets her up to get upset in this one for me, she’s more experienced and higher ranked but the women’s side is more prone to upsets in best of three format, and if Arruabarrena can string her best clay court points together she can take 2 sets in this one. Arruabarrena in 3

(10)Venus Williams vs Qiang Wang

Niall: I witnessed Wang play in Madrid first hand and she impressed me as a qualifier there. The Chinese has been in good form as of late, but I do not feel it will be enough to beat the veteran Venus. Venus in 3

Sam: On paper this might seem a bit of a cakewalk for Venus Williams but, in reality, Qiang Wang has had an impressive yet low-key clay court season. Venus’ experience should be enough to get the job done but do not be surprised if Wang steals a set and gives the older Williams sister a scare. Venus in 3

Steen: Although the 25 year old Wang has been performing well on clay, she lacks the experience, resolve, and mettle that Venus still has at 36. She’s far from a tournament favorite on clay, but Venus should prevail in this one. Venus in 2

(31)Roberta Vinci vs. Monica Puig

Niall: Youth vs experience and a style clash to boot, this should be an interesting match. Vinci’s variety is difficult to deal with, but he main weapon, the slice, is less effective on clay. So I predict Puig to advance to the second round. Puig in 2

Sam: With the greatest of respect this is not likely to be a high quality affair. Both have been in poor form, notching up just three wins between them on clay this year. Vinci is a player in decline while Puig has not built on her Rio gold medal. Vinci boasts a two-nil head to head record so just gets the nod from me to win this one. Vinci in 3

Steen: Neither player has been in good form but Vinci has a 2-0 h2h lead, and without Puig suddenly finding her 2016 form she’s unlikely to win this one. I’ll go with the Italian veteran. Vinci in 2

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