2015 French Open Preview: Women’s Singles

Unlike the men’s game, predicting the women’s draw can be much more of a crapshoot. Over the last few years, it’s been hard to realistically trust that any player aside from Serena Williams will make it upset-free into the final weekend of a Grand Slam fortnight. Although much of this can be attributed to the best-of-three set nature of the women’s Grand Slam tournament versus the men’s best-of-five, it’s still been a risky proposition to assume that the top seeds will handle their business en route to the final rounds. But, the French Open is the year’s only major to be played on clay, and this changes things up a bit from your average tournament. Clay courts slow the pace of the ball, which in turn slows the pace of play. With the increased difficulty of hitting outright winners, consistent, defensive players gain a huge advantage. Insert: Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova and Williams will be battling for the French Open the next two weeks.


Serena Williams

Serena has been on a tear to start 2015. After winning the first major of the year in Melbourne and the title in Miami more recently, she enters once again as a heavy favorite. With 19 Grand Slams under her belt, a championship here at Roland Garros would make her just the third woman ever with 20 Grand Slam victories; however, the French Open has been her weakest venue throughout her career. With 23 Grand Slam finals appearances, only 2 have come on the red clay of Paris, and only one of those (2013) has happened since 2002. But in both of those finals appearances Serena was able to capture the title, and in 2013 it was over Sharapova in the final. Last year, as she looked to defend her title, Serena uncharacteristically fell in just the second round to an unheralded Spanish upstart Garbine Muguruza. So although her career track record at the French Open is spotty to say the least, there is no reason to ever bet against arguably the most dominate woman the sport has ever seen. As Serena ages, she seems to get even better, proving doubters wrong time and again. She may not be the defending champion, but this, as is every other tournament she plays in, is her championship to lose.

Maria Sharapova

The world’s #2 has played like #1 as of late, especially on clay. Her 2015 campaign got off to a torrid start as she won the Brisbane Open before falling just short to Williams in the Australian Open final. Just last week in a final tuneup for the French, Sharapova won the clay court based tournament in Rome handily. Of course, her path was cleared significantly once Williams withdrew mid-tournament with an elbow injury, but nevertheless Sharapova has asserted her dominance over the rest of the field. She enters the French Open as the reigning champion, and with Serena on the opposite end of the 128-player draw, she is a favorite to return to the final. If Serena gets tripped up early on like she did last year, Sharapova becomes the instant favorite to repeat as champion.

Simona Halep

Halep could come away with her first Grand Slam.

With the combination of the marked lack of consistency among the rest of the top players in the women’s game and the sheer dominance of Williams and Sharapova, it’s hard to predict a winner not named Serena or Maria. Still, last year’s runner-up, 23-year old Simona Halep of Romania, just might be the next best challenger. Taking advantage of Serena’s early exit a year ago, she made her way to the first Grand Slam final of her career, forcing Sharapova to sweat (and grunt) her way to a hard-fought 3-set victory. Although she hasn’t returned to a Grand Slam final since, she did make it to the semis at Wimbledon, proving that she is here to stay. If anyone is going to challenge the top two, Halep is an obvious candidate.

Sharapova’s clay court expertise will land her in her fourth consecutive French Open final, but Serena is just too dominant. Like a fine wine she seems to get better with age, and with the chance to make history with her 20th Grand Slam title, look for Serena to edge out Sharapova in the final in three sets. Serena Williams over Maria Sharapova in 3 sets.


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