R1 picks from Roland Garros, part 1

Karolina Pliskova vs Donna Vekic

A tough round one match, Karolina Pliskova will come with a point to prove after he 6-0 6-0 drubbing in Rome to Iga Swiatek. It is good to see Donna Vekic back in a draw for the first time since the fourth round of the Australian Open.

It is over 14 weeks since the Croat has played on the tour and hasn’t played on clay since last year. It will be a pressure off situation for Donna who I would have expected to maybe shift her preparations to the grass court season.

There is a big pressure on Pliskova, I’m not expecting trees to be pulled up here and I wouldn’t rule out a surprise from Vekic.

Sofia Kenin vs Jelena Ostapenko

A former finalist vs a former champion. Sofia Kenin probably couldn’t have asked for a more awkward first round encounter than Jelena Ostapenko.

It will be an exciting match, Jelena always brings excitement to the court and Kenin might not need that right now. The American is on a tough run at the moment without a win since mid-March, no wins on clay and also splitting with her dad Alex as her coach in this time.

I really hope we see the end of this tough run soon for Kenin, it happens to everyone. The problem being a major winer and finalist is there is attention on you and an early exit in Paris would not be ideal but is extremely possible but I do hope she wins because it will feel like a big win!

Karolina Muchova vs Andrea Petkovic

Muchova is a player I like a lot, injury has halted progress on the tour in the last couple of years. This year alone the 24 year old from the Czech Republic has defeated: Ostapenko, Pliskova, Mertens, Barty, Osaka & Sakkari.

It has been a year without too much rhythm, Muchova comes into Roland Garros having played just three events since the beginning of February which leaves questions on how match ready is she for a big run at a tournament?

Petkovic could be a tricky opponent however, the 33 year old hasn’t strung a run of wins together on the clay court. I do think Karolina will come through and I hope she goes far and this could be the start of a path leading into Wimbledon in over a months time.

Garbine Muguruza vs Marta Kostyuk

The Spaniard is someone I would consider as a contender at Roland Garros but Muguruza could be in for a tricky opener in Paris against Marta Kostyuk who turns 19 next month.

Marta is only 18 but has played over 170 matches on the tour but is still finding her feet in the women’s game. Do I think that Marta could use some issues for the Spaniard? I do think so, but how much?

I hope we see Muguruza at the business end of the tournament but she has to get the job done early on first!

Iga Świątek vs Kaja Juvan

Not long ago the Pole made her debut in Paris and now she is returning as the defending champion with a Rome title under her belt. All eyes in tennis will be on the 19 year old who has just recently broken into the top 10 in the world for the first time.

It will be a tough match I imagine for Kaja, we have seen such a ruthless side to Iga over the last few weeks, in Rome she was on a mission. I think it will be a good experience for the Slovenian to learn from, consistency has been a problem. Kaja has been hanging around 100 in the world for some time and is just looking for that rhythm in tournaments to climb the rankings.

Victoria Azarenka vs Svetlana Kuznetsova

Two former Grand Slam champions going head to head, one of which (Kuznetsova) has won in Paris before back in 2009. It will be the Russian’s 19th consecutive year playing the French Open but the 35 year old has not played a match on clay this year or has she won a match on clay at Roland Garros since 2017.

Azarenka’s record on clay is not much better either, one match played which she won before pulling out of Madrid injured.

It is good to have such an interesting battle like this soo early on in the draw but a shame one of these great players will be going out in the first round. I would like to see Azarenka go on a run and continue her magnificent and quite scaringly brilliant form we saw last year.

Leylah Fernandez vs Anastasia Potapova

Two players who will be ones to watch on the tour in the coming years, we have seen great moments from both but it has been a difficult clay court season for them.

Leylah has won just 2 of her 6 matches on the clay courts in preparation for Paris where as the Russian has won 3 of her 7 matches on the clay this year.

Earlier on in the year the Russian did have her best run at the WTA 1000 event in Dubai making the quarterfinals for the first time at that level.

Consistency is the key, over the last couple of years it has been the Canadian who has played better consistently and I think it will show in the match and I hope and expect Fernandez to pull through.

Nadia Podoroska vs Belinda Bencic

This could be the tie of the round. Belinda Bencic has found her clay court season a bit problematic, one of the problems for the Swiss has been in the form of Paula Badosa.

The good news is for Belinda that she doesn’t play Paul in Paris but a difficult opponent in Nadia Podoroska.

Nadia qualified for Paris last year went onto become the first woman in the 123 year history at Roland Garros to come through qualifying and make the semi-finals. This year she will have points to defend but has been in good form.

Turning up to Paris with a win over Serena in Rome is a massive confidence boost and I think we could see an upset early on. Bencic played well in Madrid but will it be enough to see off Nadia?

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