On the eve of the year’s second major beginning, we look at the seeds and make predictions on the first Grand Slam since the 2002 Australian Open not to feature Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, or Victoria Azarenka.
<2017 French Open Seed Report
1. Angelique Kerber: The German has had, by her standards, a terrible year. Unable to defend her title in Melbourne, she regained the #1 ranking by virtue of Williams’ pregnancy-related leave. Clay is not Kerber’s favorite surface and a dangerous first round matchup against Ekaterina Makarova could add to her misery.
2. Karolina Pliskova: It’s been a banner year so far for the hard-hitting Czech. Already with titles in Brisbane and Doha, Pliskova is poised to rise to #2 in the world and could attain the #1 ranking by the end of Roland Garros. Like Kerber, clay is not her best surface and a draw that includes Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the fourth round and either Johanna Konta or Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals could spell the end of her fortnight.
3. Simona Halep: Deservedly the favorite after defending her title in Madrid and reaching the final in Rome. Her only Major final was here in 2014, losing a heartbreaker to Sharapova. With many of the top stars out of action and the draw there for the taking, this is the Romanian’s best chance to finally capture that elusive major.
4. Garbine Muguruza: Reaching the semifinals in Rome was a positive step for Muguruza this year as she returns to the scene of her first Major, so brilliantly won against Williams last year. Perhaps the site of her career-defining moment will bring out the best in her, but her draw begins with the premier first round matchup against 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone.
5. Elina Svitolina: The best player of 2017, Svitolina has four titles, including Rome, defeating Halep in the final, and has earned the #1 ranking in the Race standings. If she can get past Anastasija Sevastova in the Round of 16, the Ukrainian may very well be holding up her first Grand Slam trophy in two weeks time.
6. Dominika Cibulkova: A semifinalist in Paris in 2009, Cibulkova continues to very much be up-and-down. As she proved at the WTA Finals last year, she’s capable of getting hot at any time and a reasonable draw could see her potentially reach that stage again.
7. Johanna Konta: It’s been a brilliant start to 2017 for the Brit with titles in Sydney and Miami. Unfortunately for Konta, neither of those wins were on clay and she’s now on her worst surface. Even in a horrible run of form, Agnieszka Radwanska is likely to send Konta packing in the fourth round.
8. Svetlana Kuznetsova: The 2009 champion reached the final of Indian Wells as her late career resurgence continues. A second Roland Garros title is not out of the question if she can navigate her way past Kerber or Caroline Wozniacki.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska: Clearly in her worst form in years, the Pole still can beat just about anyone with her crafty game. A fortunate draw with Konta in her section, a quarterfinal appearance is not out of the question.
10. Venus Williams: A finalist at the French 15 years ago, the elder Williams reached the Australian Open final before losing to her sister. Not much to speak of on clay except a quarterfinal in Rome. Is fortunate to be in a section with Cibulkova.
11. Caroline Wozniacki: The Dane reached the finals of Doha, Dubai and Miami, losing all three. Even on clay, Wozniacki can be overpowered by a big hitter and she drew Kuznetsova in her 16’s, which means it’s likely the end of her tournament.
12. Madison Keys: Can play on the clay as evidenced by last year’s final in Rome, defeating Muguruza in the semis, but still has yet to make a major breakthrough since the 2015 Australian Open semifinal run.
13. Kristina Mladenovic: The talented Frenchwoman is a darkhorse to win her home slam. Finals of Stuttgart and Madrid and a terrific draw have her poised for a breakout two weeks.
14. Elena Vesnina: Another top player not at home on the dirt. Won Indian Wells to prove her Wimbledon semifinals was no fluke, but probably not much of a factor here.
15. Petra Kvitova: It’s not important how far Kvitova goes. Her mere entry into the tournament so soon after her horrifying attack is a win not only for her, but for tennis, as well.
16. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Always talented, but never consistent. Two tournament wins to her name this year and in a section with Pliskova means the Russian could finally make her breakthrough to the final weekend.
17. Anastasija Sevastova: Easily one of the best players no one has heard of/talks about. Adept on the clay, she caught a terrible break drawing Svitolina in the fourth round as if she were in any other section, she’d easily reach the semifinals.
18. Kiki Bertens: Last year’s surprise semifinalist repeated in Nuremberg. Wozniacki or Kuznetsova will likely prevent the Dutchwoman from reaching the last four again.
19. Coco Vandeweghe: Was positively brilliant in reaching the Australian Open semifinal, but clay isn’t really her thing.
20. Barbora Strycova: Feisty Czech is always worth a look, but if Alison Riske doesn’t get her in the opener, Radwanska will in the third round.
21. Carla Suarez Navarro: Her game should be perfectly suited for clay, but she’s far from her best and she’s in Halep’s section. Not a good mix.
22. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni: The story of the year in tennis, her semifinal in Melbourne was magical, inspiring and came 18 years after her first. Sadly, Mladenovic or Muguruza will likely prevent that from happening again.
23. Samantha Stosur: A good record at Roland Garros with a final and two semis to her name, including last year. Still possessing a terrific serve, she’s in with a chance to go far again.
24. Daria Gavrilova: What she lacks in power, she makes up for in spunk. Lost to Stosur in the Strasbourg final.
25. Lauren Davis: The shortest player on tour at just 5’2″, Davis won Auckland for her first title. Tough opener against big-hitting German Carina Witthoeft.
26. Daria Kasatkina: Won on the green clay of Charleston. Definitely on the rise, she’s not a seed you want to see early.
27. Yulia Putintseva: One of the great characters on tour, she’ll hang around long enough to both annoy and lose to Muguruza in the third round.
28. Caroline Garcia: Still waiting for her to fulfill her potential at a Slam. Could do it hete as she landed in the Konta/Radwanska section.
29. Ana Konjuh: Auckland finalist was the youngest U.S. Open quarterfinalist in almost a decade last year. No clay results to speak of and matched with Svitolina in the third round.
30. Timea Bacsinszky: 2015 Roland Garros semifinalist is not at her best, but she’s definitely still got the game to be a factor in Paris. Not in a bad section with Cibulkova and Venus.
31. Roberta Vinci: Slumping in her final year on tour, she’s never been at her best on clay and Monica Puig could send her packing in the first round.
32. Shuai Zhang: Highest ranked Chinese player on tour is tall and powerful. Kuznetsova will end her fortnight in round three.
Francesca Schiavone: This is Schiavone’s final French Open. One of the most popular champions ever, she took home her Roland Garros title in 2010 and returned to the final in 2011. Will get a showcase match against Muguruza and deservedly so. Win or lose against the defending champion, the Italian will have earned all the applause she receives from the Philippe Chatrier crowd.
Best first round matches
Muguruza vs Schiavone: Battle of former champions is easily the best of the bunch. Will be highly entertaining and emotional.
Kerber vs Makarova: Real possibility the top seed falls in her opener against the steady Russian.
Elise Mertens vs Gavrilova: Young, talented Belgian reached the final in Istanbul and has a legitimate chance to pull off the upset.
Julia Boserup vs Kvitova: A match that even with a five-month layoff Kvitova should win, but worth watching even if it’s a blowout for all the reasons mentioned above.
Svitolina vs Yaroslava Shvedova: It’s not likely Svitolina will lose this match, but it will provide her with a good early test as she faces the dangerous floater, a two-time quarterfinalist in Paris.
Muguruza defeats Kuznetsova: This could be a very long, nervous encounter complete with great shot-making and massive choking. In the end, Muguruza takes her 13th straight match in Paris.
Svitolina defeats Garcia: There has to be one surprise, right? Frenchwoman will thrill the home crowd before losing to the Ukrainian. Svitolina moves one step closer to her first major.
Svitolina defeats Muguruza: They just played in Rome, Svitolina winning after Muguruza retired down 4-1 in the first set. It’s never easy knocking off the defending champion, especially one who can be so magnificent on the dirt, but Svitolina has done nothing but win this year and like her opponent did last year here, she’ll pull off the upset to win her first Slam championship.
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