French Open: 2016 women's preview
The four "favorites" heading into the French Open. Noel Alberto/VAVEL

French Open: 2016 women's preview

A breakdown of the 2016 French Open women's draw.

notfirstnoel
Noel John Alberto

Will the French Open bring as many surprises that the Australian Open did on the women’s side of the draw? The biggest one obviously was the shocker in the final when Angelique Kerber downed Serena Williams or even Simona Halep’s first round exit. Will there be that many surprises? We find out when play kicks off at Roland Garros.

Serena’s Quarter

Serana Williams of the United States pictured with the trophy after winning against Madison Keys of the United States during the Womens Singles Finalduring day eight of The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2016 on May 15, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Serana Williams of the United States pictured with the trophy after winning against Madison Keys of the United States during the Womens Singles Finalduring day eight of The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2016 on May 15, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

World number one Serena Williams hadn’t played a clay event all season before the Italian Open in Rome. No problems for her whatsoever, she won and was convincing throughout the event. The American should have no problems cruising through her first few round before a potential match with Kristina Mladenovic in the third round. Mladenovic, a crowd favorite, could find herself in danger in her opening round match as she meets former champion Francesca Schiavone. The Frenchwoman will be entrenched in quite an opening round battle and as the 26th seed, is going to be on upset alert. However, Mladenovic has finally gotten a good run on the clay with a semifinal showing in Strasbourg. An early popcorn match between two unseeded players is between Samantha Crawford and Timea Babos with the winner meeting the winner of the Mladenovic-Schiavone match.

Serena’s potential fourth round opponents might provide an interesting challenge. Elina Svitolina meets qualifier Sorana Cirstea. The Ukrainian took a set off Serena at the Australian Open last year before the world number one came back to win, something she proved she could do all throughout all of the Grand Slams last year. 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic might have something to say about Svitolina’s potential fourth round clash with Serena by turning on some magic which propelled her to a title back in 08 and the semifinals last year. However, her inconsistency bodes too many problems for herself as Svitolina should be the one to find herself in the fourth round.

Carla Suarez Navarro is best on the red dirt and is most definitely a threat to make the quarterfinals. The Spaniard doesn’t face any menacing opponents in the early rounds but will have her money’s worth in the third round with a potential showdown against Dominika Cibulkova. The Slovakian really packs a punch for someone her size and will definitely force the Spaniard to run around a lot. That’s definitely a match to watch out for should the two clash in round three.

Andrea Petkovic begins her French Open journey against Laura Robson. The 28th-seeded German would find this matchup a tricky one, but Robson has struggled on her comeback journey from a wrist injury. Victoria Azarenka, also coming back from illness and injury, should be able to storm her way to the fourth round if she doesn’t have anymore problems with injuries. Karin Knapp is a tricky opponent should the Belarusian still have injury problems so be wary of that.

There are four Frenchwoman in this quarter, three of them have yet to be mentioned. Amandine Hesse faces fellow wild card Taylor Townsend while Oceane Dodin meets Ana Ivanovic. Tessah Andrianjafitrimo is easily the name of the tournament and faces Qiang Wang.

Quarterfinalist: Serena Williams - Carla Suarez Navarro

Semifinalist: Serena Williams

First round matches to watch for: Crawford - Babos, Schiavone - Mladenovic, Svitolina - Cirstea, Petkovic - Robson

Kerber’s Quarter

Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland in action against Garbine Muguruza of Spain during day six of the The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2016 on May 13, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland in action against Garbine Muguruza of Spain during day six of the The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2016 on May 13, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

German Angelique Kerber looks to pull off what Serena did last year, the Australian Open-French Open double. It’s definitely a tough feat, but she has the clay court results to back it up this spring, with a title in her home country of Germany, winning in Stuttgart.

Kerber kicks off her campaign against Kiki Bertens. The Dutchwoman is a solid player and all but should not give the world number three any problems at all. Her potential third round opponent Daria Kasatkina faces an interesting opponent in Anna-Lena Friedsam. Friedsam took a set off Serena in last year’s French Open, so she can definitely pose a threat to Kerber.

Johanna Konta enters the second major of the year being seeded for the first time at 20th. She faces a tricky opening two round with Julia Goerges and then a potential second round clash with Monica Puig. Madison Keys, a finalist last week in Rome, meets Donna Vekic and also faces potential tricky second round matchups. Finalist in Nuremberg, Mariana Duque-Marino or Daria Gavrilova. Keys, whose patience has helped her evolve on clay, has to remain just that to go far in this tournament.

Venus Williams, the American number two who is seeded ninth, meets Anett Kontaveit in their opener. Williams has struggled all year long so Kontaveit may make some noise with an upset. If Kontaveit can’t make some noise, Louisa Chirico definitely can. Jelena Jankovic, the 23rd seed, is the projected third round opponent of Venus. She’s another potential early upset victim here with Alize Cornet and Kirsten Flipkens potentially standing in her way.

Kerber’s potential quarterfinal opponent could be Timea Bacsinszky. If Bacsinszky wins, she could possibly face Eugenie Bouchard, a former semifinalist in Paris. The two met in the hard courts of Indian Wells this past spring, and that was an entertaining affair so a showdown in the Terre Battue would be just as interesting. However, Bouchard might need to get by Laura Siegemund first, who’s vain run of form saw her make the finals of Stuttgart. Monica Niculescu and her unique slice forehand can most definitely do some damage in this part of the draw.

Alize Lim has a wild card and will face hard-hitting Camila Giorgi in the opening round while Virginie Razzano, the woman who stunned Serena a few years ago, will face qualifier Ipek Soylu. Pauline Parmentier is the final Frenchwoman in this section and will face Niculescu

Quarterfinalist: Angelique Kerber - Timea Bacsinszky

Semifinalist: Timea Bacsinszky

First round matches to watch for: Kerber - Bertens, Friedsam - Kasatkina, Konta - Goerges, Gavrilova - Duque-Marino, Venus - Kontaveit, Cornet - Flipkens, Siegemund - Bouchard

Muguruza’s Quarter

Garbine Muguruza in action during his match against Timea Bacsinszky - Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2016 on May 13, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Garbine Muguruza in action during his match against Timea Bacsinszky - Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2016 on May 13, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Last year’s Wimbledon finalist gets her own quarter of the draw and has it pretty straightforward for most of the way with no one really boding as a major threat on the clay courts here.

Roberta Vinci kicks off the quarter against Kateryna Bondarenko. Vinci should see no problems until the third round where a potential showdown with Irina-Camelia Begu awaits. Begu was troublesome for top opponents on the clay.

Two Czechs who have struggled so far in 2016 are Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova. There’s a potential that they can meet in the third round but with both players, struggling, it’s unlikely they both get there. Pliskova meets American Shelby Rogers while Kvitova meets Danka Kovinic, one of the inform youngsters of 2016.

Svetlana Kuznetsova has enjoyed a resurgent 2016 with a title in Sydney and a finals showing Miami. Seeded 13th, she’s definitely favorite to make it out of her section with not too many threatening players outside of Heather Watson and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who can get erratic at times.

Ekaterina Makarova is the potential third round opponent for Muguruza and meets a tricky first round opponent in Varvara Lepchenko. The Spaniard should cruise through her part of the draw and find herself in the quarterfinals with no problem.

There is only one Frenchwoman in this section of the draw, and that is Myrtille Georges. She faces Christina McHale in the first round.

Quarterfinalist: Irina-Camelia Begu - Garbiñe Muguruza

Semifinalist: Garbiñe Muguruza

First round matches to watch for: Coco Vandeweghe - Naomi Broady, Bethanie Mattek-Sands - Begu, Kovinic - Kvitova, Watson - Nicole Gibbs, Makarova - Lepchenko, Schmiedlova - Muguruza

Radwanska’s Quarter

Simona Halep of Romania celebrates with the winners trophy after her win over Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the final during day eight of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica on May 07, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Simona Halep of Romania celebrates with the winners trophy after her win over Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the final during day eight of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica on May 07, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The world number two might not even be the favorite to get out of her own quarter with clay being her weakest surface. Can Agnieszka Radwanska turn the odds though and find her way through to her first ever French Open final?

Simona Halep has struggled at points in 2016 but has found her way on the clay. The Romanian and former world number won a title in Madrid and avoids her “Grand Slam killer” Mirjana Lucic-Baroni until the third round potentially should she make it that far. Otherwise, first time seeded player Jelena Ostapenko will meet Halep likely in the third round.

Two former finalists headline the potential fourth round opponents for Halep with Samantha Stosur and Lucie Safarova. The Czech is going to need a big run on the dirt, as she is defending finalist points here from last year. The biggest threat in stopping this potential showdown is Shuai Zhang, the woman who was contemplating retirement before defeating Halep in Melbourne.

Clay-court specialist Sara Errani is the favorite to defeat Radwanska should they meet in the fourth round. American Sloane Stephens is one of the players who can definitely outhit Radwanska, but out-hitting the Pole isn’t always the best way to beat her. Also, Stephens has also struggled finding her rhythm in the early rounds of Grand Slams so she needs to get an early win to get her going.

Barbora Strycova is one of the two final seeded players, 30th, as well as the second-seeded Radwanska. Strycova is already put on upset alert with Lucie Hradecka coming in through qualifying. Meanwhile, Radwanska’s potential second round opponent puts her on upset alert whether it be Lesia Tsurenko or Caroline Garcia. Garcia has struggled with her mentality, playing on the main courts in Paris, but a win in Strasbourg should give her loads of confidence heading in.

Quarterfinalist: Simona Halep - Sara Errani

Semifinalist: Simona Halep

First round matches to watch for: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni - Daniela Hantuchova, Naomi Osaka - Jelena Ostapenko, Stosur - Misaki Doi, Tsurenko - Garcia

Semifinals and Finals Prediction

Serena Williams defeats Timea Bacsinszky

Simona Halep defeats Garbiñe Muguruza

Finals: Serena Williams defeats Simona Halep

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