Who will win Roland Garros?

Over the last 9 Grand Slam tournaments there have been 6 different winners on the ladies tour; Serena Williams, Angie Kerber, Garbine Muguruza, Sloane Stephens, Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Wozniacki. The ladies game is so open at the moment which is fantastic so let’s have a look at who could be there?

Simona Halep 💪🏻

The world number one has a lot of pressure on her shoulders. She has been playing some good tennis over the last few weeks but the real pressure will come in the second week as it will increase match by match but staying in the moment is vital for the Romanian.

Caroline Wozniacki 😕

The world number two has not been in great form for a while. Her clay court season has been sat at 2 wins and 1 loss for every tournament she plays. She usually does get to grips with Roland Garros quickly and adjusts but that consistency in matches can just disappear at times. Watching Caro win the Australian Open was a beautiful moment for her and tennis but I don’t see her pushing for this one.

Garbine Muguruza 🤨

I don’t really know what to expect from Garbine. I said in a piece not long ago she can turn up with little momentum and still do well. Even in her defeat against Gavrilova in Rome a week ago she hit her ground strokes well just her game plan seemed confused. Contender? I think so but she needs to start matches good!

Elina Svitolina 😎

Watch out for Elina. Her game is looking solid right now. She seems composed and confident and her wins against Kasatkina, Kontaveit, Kerber and Halep have put her in a contenders bracket for Roland Garros. She doesn’t have that big Grand Slam experience but it will only come with performances on the big stage. I think she will be one to watch out for. Her attitude and commitment in her match against Halep was exceptional.

Jelena Ostapenko ☹️

Defending champion. Do I think Jelena will defend her title? No.

I don’t really see what Jelena has done since winning the title to convince me that she will replicate that. Her attitude has been a problem in matches and she just seems contempt with this game style which is a bit hit and miss!

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Karolina Pliskova 🧐

You wouldn’t usually put Pliskova’s game down as a clay court game but her form on clay since the beginning of last year has been very good. Pliskova plays a style of tennis which on its day is difficult to stop. She does move better now but I think there are better players on clay but I wouldn’t rule her out going far here.

Petra Kvitova 🏆

Form player this year. I’ve always enjoyed watching Petra but it has emotion and feeling attached after her horror attack. The issue with Petra is consistency and sometimes there is those random performances where things just go wrong. Since making the semi-final of Roland Garros in 2012 she hasn’t been back in the second week. Surely this is her year?

Angie Kerber 🤩

Don’t count Angie out, she turns up at the big stage and her game suits all surfaces and this year she has built up her ranking once again especially after a write off 2017 season. Seeded at 12 she could face a tricky draw and likely to face a top player in an early round.

Maria Sharapova 🏅

I don’t think Maria will win Roland Garros but I think she will provide a challenge especially following her run in Rome where she played her best tennis since returning over a year ago. The experience and stubborn style of tennis will be tough and if you are going to beat Sharapova you will have to bring you’re A game if she plays as she did in Rome.

Vika Azarenka 😎

Vika is on route around the world now with her son however she was quickly knocked out by Osaka in Rome. Vika has a presence which is so infectious and the crowd gets behind her. I hope Vika puts on a good performance and should be looking at the second week.

Serena Williams 👑

Where else do I end? Serena is playing her first major since giving birth. Since returning to the tour in March a plan and programme has been put in place to work on things that need improving and as her coach Patrick says she plays to win. Just the fact of playing Serena Williams can be a daunting prospect.

Who takes it? I don’t know, what I do know is it will be a fortnight full of stories, surprises, emotion and at the end achampion!

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Elina Svitolina takes Rome again! Roland Garros chances?🤔

This was a big week for Elina. I remember in Barcelona I watched her match against Petra Martin one night and she was flawless.

The commentator that night said this is a big week for Elina to back up what she has done before which I agree with but I also feel there isn’t pressure on her at all! Her record in WTA tournaments is very good especially premier 5 events and her performances have shown any doubters she can be a Top player.

She’s only 23, 12-2 in finals, 20 Top 10 wins in 3 years and wins against Halep, Kerber, Kasatkina and Kontaveit this week on clay is a bloody job well done!

Now, she just needs to pull it all together at a major. She has quarter final points to defend from last year to begin with and it will be interesting.

I’ve been watching Elina for about 5 years now, first time I saw her was 2014 Roland Garros. She lost in straight sets to Ana Ivanovic and I thought she has game and I’ve written pieces years gone by saying I don’t know what her stand out shot is but that isn’t a bad thing.

Elina is a good defender and attacker but over the last 18 months she’s pulled together her ground strokes and made them a predictable watch. I have said in the past being predictable can be bad but when you are that good you just have to admire what you are watching!

I love her backhand, I think it’s amazing. Unusual contact with the ball but accuracy is there and that is what it’s about is finding that game and she’s found it. Of course things will change and need to improve over the years but I feel like she can do it but at this moment there isn’t pressure on her like there is with Halep or Pliskova for example.

I’d love to see her win it, her attitude is amazing to winning and losing as she learns all the time!

Roland Garros bound Simona Halep must forget Rome thrashing!

Going into Sunday’s final against Elina Svitolina you would have said Halep was playing her best tennis since Melbourne however the final was not what we expected.

The world number one was flat and lifeless with all respect. The first set which she lost was over within 19 minutes and it looked like the semifinal against Sharapova had taken it out of her.

That win was big, her first over the Russian on clay and of course Sharapova defeated her in the final of Roland Garros back in 2014 so it had some meaning.

If I were Simona I’d just let it go, there is no point in looking back. People will speak about it during Roland Garros but it’s just noise and disrespectful! Let’s talk about the positives!

Her game against Sharapova was top drawer and even in the 6-0 6-4 defeat she suffered to Elina in Rome she fought so hard in set two.

She went down 3-1 quick and it was almost 5-2 as well but she made the 4th seed work for it. At 3-1 she could have lay down her tools and it could have been over in less than quarter of an hour but that fight needs to be recognised and appreciated.

So forget the defeat, of course they will pick up on things from the week to improve as there should never be a week where you are happy with how you play as when you’re happy it becomes sloppy.

Tests will follow for Halep, she’s passed many but now forget Rome and head off to Roland Garros!

Foro Italico thoughts ahead of Roland Garros

The final big warm up before Roland Garros sees the top players from the world head to the Foro Italico in Rome to finish off their preparations and aim to reign supreme in one of the worlds most beautiful cities.

I have been a bit quiet on everything this week as I have been in Barcelona for the week hence why I am doing a round up of findings from the week but there will be a number of exciting pieces coming out ahead of what is set to be an exciting Roland Garros but Rome first!

Why Stan?

When I heard Wawrinka was in Rome I was surprised, he lost in straight sets to Steve Johnson and it would be unfair to even look at the performance but I thought he would go straight to Geneva to practice and defend his title there? It’s good to see Stan back and it will take a while to get rhythm which could take a few months especially with three surface changes over the next 7 weeks so finding comfort on the knee is priority.

Sharapova’s best form since returning

100%! The former world number one has found some of her best tennis in Rome. The slow court has allowed her time on the ball something she hasn’t been getting over the last few weeks on clay.

Courts at Roland Garros can be similar but it does depend on conditions and watering which we have seen before. I think it’s good for Sharapova in this form but honestly I don’t see her contending for the title. The FFT denied Sharapova a wildcard last year so I don’t think they will be rushing to put her on Chatrier or Longlen.

Dom heading to Paris? Nope…

After what has been a good clay court season for Dominic Thiem the Austrian suffered an early exit in Rome so you’d have thought he would head to Paris to begin preparing but is instead going to play in Lyon at a 250 event and I don’t know why.

He isn’t short of match practice just a bad defeat and his performances in Monte Carlo and Madrid so soon after injury were very good so I hope going to Lyon doesn’t burn him out.

Worried for Woz?

Caro’s form has been consistent in the way that in all of her clay court tournaments she has won two matches and lost the third but when she has lost it is a thrashing.

Caro surprisingly has never found consistency on clay despite her game being well suited. Roland Garros is statistically her worst major with a win percentage of 64% but was her best performance last year making the quarter finals.

Caro does have points to defend and as second seed she should definitely be in the second week but has struggled against big hitters these last few weeks like Kasatkina and Bertens.

Kei good but good enough?

Kei Nishikori has also played one of his best tournaments of the year. Finalist in Monte-Carlo and quarter finalist in Rome he has come into form however that form dramatically dropped against Djokovic which is a concern!

Can he do it over 5 sets? I don’t think right now he is up to it physically. It is good to see him playing some stunning tennis but after set one it became a fatigued performance and he was a passenger which is a concern over three sets let alone best of 5 tournament.

Novak in form!

We haven’t been able to say it much this season but Novak has shown great form over this week. Frustration was a big part of his performance against Nadal and it was great to see that frustration!

You might think well frustration shows something is up but it’s good to see Novak with that spark in his personality and game on the court again. His performance against Rafa was better.

Physically he was moving better and hitting the ball harder with control. More challenges will follow but I will be greatly surprised if he doesn’t make the second week of Paris.

6-1 6-2, Svitolina wastes no time with sensational performance!

Elina Svitolina comes into Rome with a 2-2 win/loss on clay. The quality is there as her form has taken a dip but after a long day waiting around in the rain of Rome when she finally got on talk oh my she did not mess around!

Eli is one of my favourite players on the tour I do believe she will win majors but she’s young and her title defence has been great so far!

From the Off after saving break points it was no nonsense and when she is in this mood there aren’t many better players to watch.

The way she paints the lines with the ball whether she is using forehand or backhand is incredible and through in her movement as well sometimes you just have to say ‘too good’

Even when she was up a set and break she screamed after missing a pass winner, confidence!

A love hold and a backhand winner down the line to finish! Exceptional 💪🏻

Top seeds fall across Europe!

Well, it has been quite the 24 hours on the ATP and WTA tour. Many players are beginning their clay court season this week whether it is in Barcelona, Istanbul or Stuttgart the top players have packed their bags early but who has gone home?

Dominic Thiem
Grigor Dimitrov
Simona Halep
Elina Svitolina
Garbine Muguruza
Angelique Kerber
Caroline Wozniacki
Svetlana Kuznetsova

The fall outs have been big, some bigger than others!

There will be concerns over Garbine Muguruza who in Stuttgart had to retire and it is the third time this year the defending Wimbledon champion has pulled out of a tournament with injury. Garbine is now expected to move to Madrid now with tennis there beginning in just over a week.

‘Surprises’ as well in Barcelona with Thiem and Dimitrov dropping out early. I wouldn’t say surprises as they are both finding their form again but it would have been nice to see both in the final four.

Caroline Wozniacki was in action today in Istanbul but also found herself packing her bags likewise with number two seed Kuznetsova.

Likewise in Stuttgart where a out of sorts Halep dropped out today and Elina Svitolina both who you would have had as contenders.

It hasn’t been an ideal 24 hours for anyone and preparations have taken a big hit for all with many expected to head off to Madrid asap!

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WTA Stuttgart 2018 – World’s best arrive to kick off their clay court season

WTA Stuttgart is always a much watch on the calendar. Following a weekend of Fed Cup tennis players will arrive in Germany as the preparations begin for Roland Garros begin here but who is here?

World number one Simona Halep leads a field which includes Muguruza, Ostapenko and Svitolina as four of the worlds top 5 with no Caroline Wozniacki on site this week. Kvitova, Kerber and Pliskova are also in the field as well as former champion Maria Sharapova.

More pressure for some?

I’d 100% say I think there is pressure on others to perform over the next month especially here to begin with. I feel like the questions will be asked every major about Halep and Svitolina winning a major especially the world number one!

Both players are very good clay court players so there is a pressure to perform. I want to see Elina do well over the next few weeks and go far and Halep knows what she needs but since Melbourne bringing it all together has been tough.

No easy matches

There are no easy matches in Stuttgart. This shows in R1 where we have Sharapova v Garcia, Kerber v Kvitova, Mladenovic v Kontaveit and Vandeweghe v Stephens are just a few to mention.

1 year on from the return…

The return of Sharapova in Stuttgart was 1 year ago and well to be ranked 42 in the world coming in is disappointing on her part and will likely go into Roland Garros without a seeding. Sharapova hasn’t really wowed since the comeback and Caroline Garcia will provide a test for a former champion who’s tennis needs improving.

Ones to watch!

Julia Georges goes in as the German number one. Unseeded and potentially up against Svitolina in R2 the German could cause some issues. Another German who could cause some problems is Laura Siegemund who always turns up on clay, a horrid time with injury has meant her ranking has taken a hit but I wouldn’t rule much out.

Finally Kiki Bertens. The Swede doesn’t give you much time to breath and Pliskova will need to be on it otherwise she could fall early.

Who do I think will win?

Tough one to predict, first few rounds will be very interesting but I do feel it will be either Kerber or Halep. If Kerber wins it she pulls her name into Roland Garros contender!

Kerber