2020 French Open: Women's Singles preview and predictions
Bartyb (r.) won her first major title over Vondrousova last year, but won't be in Paris this year/Photo: Corinne Dubrueil

The season's third and final major will begin on Sunday with the French Open. World number one Ashleigh Barty announced she will not defend her title and Bianca Andreescu announced shortly after that she will join Barty on the sidelines. US Open champion Naomi Osaka will also miss out due to an ankle injury.

Fans will be allowed to attend the tournament, but only 5,000 at a time and they will only be able to stay on one court for their entire time that day. Simona Halep will be the top seed in Barty's absence with the 2018 champion coming into Paris off of a title in Rome. Karolina Pliskova, Elina SvitolinaSofia Kenin, Kiki Bertens, Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova and Aryna Sabalenka round out the top eight seeds.

First quarter

Projected QF: (1) Simona Halep vs (5) Kiki Bertens

Halep seems to have a comfortable draw as she should be able to handle Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round and either Irina-Camelia Begu or Jil Teichmann in round two. Where things get tough for the Romanian is a possible rematch with 25th seed Amanda Anisimova in the third round, a year after the American blew Halep off the court in the quarterfinals and 2019 finalist and 15th seed Marketa Vondrousova in the fourth round.

Bertens is right at home on clay/Photo: Pro Shots
Bertens is right at home on clay/Photo: Pro Shots

Bertens is on her favorite surface and was the favorite for the title last year and should ease into the first weekend until a third round showdown with 28th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in round three and ninth seed Johanna Konta, a semifinalist last year, in round four. The Dutchwoman may benefit from less expectations this year than she had in 2019.

Prediction: Bertens def. Anisimova

Second quarter

Projected QF: (3) Elina Svitolina vs (6) Serena Williams

It wasn't a very encouraging sign that Svitolina was blown off of the court in Rome by Vondrousova, but she has an incredibly easy draw and should have few problems reaching the round of 16 where she could face 16th seed Elise Mertens, 17th seed Anett Kontaveit or home hope Caroline Garcia. Overall, the Ukrainian is a heavy favorite to get out of this section.

Azarenka won her first tour title in four years at the Western and Southern Open/Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
Azarenka won her first tour title in four years at the Western and Southern Open/Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

As for Williams, she played relatively well at the US Open, reaching the semifinals, but her form overall since tennis restarted has been spotty at best. Unlike Svitolina, she has a difficult draw with Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round and tenth seed Victoria Azarenka, who knocked her out in New York, in the fourth round. 

Prediction: Azarenka def. Svitolina

Third quarter

Projected QF: (8) Aryna Sabalenka vs (4) Sofia Kenin

This is probably the most open of all the quarters as neither Sabalenka or Kenin will make the final eight. 30th seed Ons Jabeur poses the biggest challenge to the Belarusian before the fourth round while Sabalenka's first round opponent, Jessica Pegula, beat her at the Western and Southern Open. 11th seed Garbine Muguruza is lurking and reached the semifinals in Rome.

Muguruza is coming into Paris with some momentum after a strong showing in Rome/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Muguruza is coming into Paris with some momentum after a strong showing in Rome/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Kenin got crushed by Elise Mertens at the US Open, but can take heart in her memorable upset of Serena at Roland Garros last year. 14th seed Elena Rybakina, 22nd seed Karolina Muchova and 28th seed Donna Vekic all pose significant challenges to the American and because of this, it's likely she won't see the second week. 

Prediction: Muguruza def. Muchova

Fourth quarter

Projected QF: (7) Petra Kvitova vs (2) Karolina Pliskova

Kvitova has only reached the semifinals once in Paris, that coming back in 2012, but she has a great draw and will not face a major challenge until the fourth round against either 18th seed Angelique Kerber or 12th seed Madison Keys. This may be the best chance the Czech has had to reach the final weekend in a number of years.

Pliskova is hoping for her injury to heal quickly enough to be at full strength/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Pliskova is hoping for her injury to heal quickly enough to be at full strength/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Pliskova retired with an injury in the final of Rome, winning just one game before pulling out, but her clay court game is getting better every year. Her draw does her no favors with 13th seed Petra Martic,  Jelena Ostapenko, 29th seed Sloane Stephens all in her section. Martic beat Pliskova in the third round last year, but isn't in nearly the same form in 2020 as she was in 2019.

Prediction: Pliskova def. Kvitova

Semifinals

Bertens def. Azarenka

Muguruza def. Pliskova

Final

Muguruza def. Bertens

 

 

 

 

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