A Google search for the women’s 2019 French Open winner would need refreshing regularly – given the number of articles popping up about it. However, the French Open is the opportunity for all players to benchmark where their clay-court game is at.
A Slam is an opportunity for players to boost their confidence and belief by putting previous performances behind them. For example, Karolina Muchova had never participated in the main draw of a Slam ahead of the US Open 2018. Five matches later, including three in the qualifying, she found herself in the third round, where she lost narrowly to 18th seed Ashleigh Barty. She has since competed in the main draw as well at Melbourne Park.
The 22-year-old Czech, who made the Prague Open final earlier this season, will now also play in the French Open proper, with a first-round clash with Anett Kontaveit in the offing. But Muchova is just one of many players who will be hoping to make an impact in Paris.
Anastasija Sevastova – previous French Open best: third round 2017
A semifinalist at last year’s US Open and quarterfinalist in New York in 2016 and 2017, Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova hasn’t thus far found the French Open a happy hunting ground. A seasoned clay-courter, she surely knows she can improve on her run to the third round in 2017, where she lost heavily to Petra Martic. The Latvian will begin her French Open campaign against Thailand’s Luksika Kumkum, who she beat in their only previous meeting.
That match was a close three-set contest in Auckland in 2012, but the Latvian has improved considerably in the five years since. The winner of that match will face either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Mandy Minella, a match Sevastova should have the edge in, whilst Elise Mertens seems her most likely opponent in the third round. All in all, the 12th seed looks to have a good chance of improving on her French Open record.
Johanna Konta – previous French Open best: first round
British #1 Johanna Konta has never progressed beyond the first round of the French Open, losing to Taipei’s Hsieh Su-Wei in 2017 and Yulia Putintseva a year later. Konta has beaten both of those opponents this season and made two clay-court finals, including at the Italian Open. Surely, Konta can beat Antonia Lottner in the first round to surpass her French Open best? The British public and her fans will be taking nothing for granted, but it’s unquestionably a good opportunity to play in the second round for the first time.
Kristyna Pliskova – Previous best: first round
The Czech world #109 has never progressed beyond the 1st round at Roland Garros. She made the semifinals in Lugano this season, so is going into this Slam in decent form. Her sister, Karolina has made the semis, but Kristyna needs to get beyond Lauren Davis this year to set a personal record.
Belinda Bencic – Previous best: second round 2015, 2018
Remarkably, Belinda Bencic has never progressed past the second round at Roland Garros. French wild card Jessika Ponchet is first up for the Swiss world #15 in what looks to be a very winnable match. She could then face 2018 quarterfinalist Yulia Putintseva in what would be a tough match. But Bencic has beaten seasoned clay courters such as Svetlana Kuznetsova and Alison Van Uytvanck this season en route to the semifinals in Madrid this season. Bencic certainly looks to have a good chance of making it to the third round or even further this season.
Polona Hercog – Previous best: third round 2010
Polona Hercog, the 2019 Lugano champion, now has three WTA titles to her name. However, she has never been beyond the third round at the French Open, and she hasn’t even made it that far since 2010. But Slovenia’s world #70 looks to have a good chance to beat that third-round finish this year.
Earlier this season, Hercog caused defending French Open champion Simona Halep no end of trouble at the Miami Open and she is capable of beating the best on her day. Hercog will open her French Open account against 32nd seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich. The Belarusian is not in great form, so it is a real chance to hit the ground running for the Slovenian Polona Hercog.
A second-round tie against Sloane Stephens is a possibility, so Hercog will need to be at her best in order to stride into uncharted territory to progress further. Arguably Hercog has the toughest route to a personal best. However, it’s not beyond her. It’ll be interesting to see if the five players listed above can set new French Open personal records.