Tournament starts 10am Sunday, live on Eurosport
Iga Swiatek to win women’s singles
3pts 10-11 Coral, Ladbrokes
A couple of players are coming to test Iga Swiatek, but back at her favourite Roland Garros playground the world number one looks set to take plenty of stopping in her bid to win a third French Open singles title in four years.
Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and Wimbledon heroine Elena Rybakina have been taking turns to knock Swiatek’s confidence going to Paris by defeating the Pole in Madrid and Rome respectively.
But while Swiatek, who is in danger of losing her top-ranked status, may have to stop Rybakina in the semi-finals and Sabalenka in the final of the clay-court major tournament, which starts on Sunday, the odds-on favourite has been a different beast on the Parisian slow courts and she could quite easily reprise that role in the coming two and a bit weeks.
Sabalenka is starting to get the winning habit and she’s enjoying a career-best campaign following her triumph at Melbourne Park, where she beat Rybakina in the final.
Swiatek beat Sabalenka in straight sets in the Stuttgart indoors final, then Sabalenka avenged that loss when edging the Pole in three sets at altitude in the Madrid final. But if Swiatek is over a thigh injury she recently sustained in Rome, she looks well placed to set the record straight in Paris that she’s still the slow-court boss.
Sabalenka will be happy to be in the opposite half of the draw to her two main rivals at the head of the betting. But of the pair, the bigger danger to Swiatek’s red-court dominance could be Rybakina, who, following her All England Club triumph last July, is making a real fist of showing that she’s the one who matters most.
Rybakina, born in Moscow but now representing Kazakhstan, was an impressive trophy winner at the Foro Italico earlier in May and it’s possible that she could follow up in Paris – she’s bidding to make it three final appearances in the last four Grand Slam tournaments.
But the second major of the year may come a little too soon for her after her Rome victory and Rybakina is far from certain to frank the form of her Italian Open victory over Swiatek should they clash again in the French capital.
At the moment there looks a gap between those three players and the chasing pack, so much so that the trio are being called the big three. But considering Cori Gauff did so well to reach the Roland Garros final last year, that tells you the hugely talented American is perfectly capable of prospering on her return to the venue this year. Her Roland Garros form-figures in the last four years read qualifying loss/R2/QF/RU and that progress is impressive by any standards.
Ons Jabeur has been quieter on court this year after reaching two Slam singles finals last season, but the Tunisian is impossible to overlook and could bounce back to her battling best in the next couple of weeks.
Elsewhere, at present Jessica Pegula looks to lack the conviction to go all the way in Slams, but the American’s luck could change, of course. She’s certainly pretty consistent in the first week of majors.
Barbora Krejcikova merits respect in her bid for a second French Open title, while another former champion, Jelena Ostapenko, has been nibbled at having been drawn in the bottom half of the draw, which looks the slightly easier of the two sections.
Caroline Garcia is seeded fifth in her homeland major, yet the fact she’s 66-1 for the title is unlikely to fill her fans with hope. There may be more mileage in chancing Qinwen Zheng at similar odds – there’s little doubt that the Chinese 20-year-old looks a future Slam champion.
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