Former Top 10 player Ekaterina Makarova returns to the French Open looking to find her best tennis and make a push up in the rankings once again after suffering from some unfortunate injury problems just when she was at the peak of her career back in 2015. Currently lingering at the 40th spot in the rankings and outside the seeded spots for Grand Slams, Makarova is one of the most dangerous players whom the top seeds would not want to face in the early rounds.
Notable results to date
Ekaterina Makarova had a 12-12 win-loss record this year, showing the lack of outstanding results the Russian used to achieve. It has been a couple of disappointing years for Makarova, who has been struggling against the lower-ranked players surprisingly. The former Top 10 player lost to players who are ranked lower than her six times out of her 12 losses, showing some inconsistency especially when she is 4-1 against Top 10 players this year. Losing her opening round matches in the tight-packed Brisbane and Sydney, Makarova bounced straight back to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the seventh consecutive time, an unbelievable feat for the Russian.
Losing to compatriot and doubles partner Elena Vesnina in St. Petersburg, Makarova earned some confidence-boosting victories next up as she steered Russia to a comfortable 4-1 lead over Chinese Taipei and defeated Dominika Cibulkova for the second time this year. However, she lost three of her next five matches to players ranked outside the Top 100, putting in some poor performances to end the hard-court season on a disappointing note. Overall, Makarova won just a mere eight matches in the first three months of play.
Clay Court results leading up to Roland Garros
Makarova had a great start to the clay court season as she defeated then-world number eight Agnieszka Radwanska in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, triumphing in straight sets as she looked to be playing her top-notch tennis. However, the Russian fell to her compatriot Maria Sharapova in the next round, with the former world number one making her comeback to professional tennis. Moving on to Rabat, an international event, Makarova was faced with yet another tough draw as she managed to defeat Yanina Wickmayer in the opening round before losing in straight sets against top seed and eventual champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Suffering a disappointing defeat at the hands of Kiki Bertens in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open, Makarova bounced back the perfect way as she strolled over Roberta Vinci, yet another tough opener, at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia, losing just three games. The Russian then followed it up with another victory over Dominika Cibulkova, her third victory over the Slovakian this year. Despite looking in great form, the former Top 10 player fell to Kiki Bertens for the second time in as many weeks.
Makarova’s history at the French Open
Ekaterina Makarova has not performed well at Roland Garros in the past, reaching the second week for only two times in her whole career.
Her best performances came a few years ago in both 2011 and 2015, where she reached the fourth round. In 2015, Makarova was seeded ninth in the tournament and defeated some tricky opponents to set up a meeting with doubles partner Elena Vesnina in the third round. There, Makarova triumphed in straight sets and progressed to the fourth round for just the second time in her career. Despite putting up a tough fight, the Russian eventually fell in three sets to eventual semifinalist Ana Ivanovic.
Last year saw Makarova enter the French Open as the 27th seed, but did not take advantage of her seeding as she exited the tournament in the second round, falling victim to Yanina Wickmayer’s powerful tennis.
How Makarova’s game translates to the surface
Makarova is an acclaimed as an accomplished doubles player, reaching a career-high ranking of three in doubles and winning two Grand Slam titles, with one mixed doubles title too. The Russian is also the Olympic gold medalist in doubles last year, ending off the year with a title at the WTA Finals too. This all shows Makarova’s ability to finish off the points at the net which could also come in handy in her singles game as she could win some free points there. Using some solid groundstrokes and bullet-like backhand, the Russian also utilizes some amazing angles to dictate play with some world-class offensive style of tennis. Aiming for the lines, Makarova’s groundstrokes are her biggest weapons. Her lefty serve could also give her an advantage over her opponents, forcing her opponents to be returning serve at an uncomfortable position.
Makarova has to ensure that she could be able to defeat players who are lower ranked than her so as to have the opportunity to progress deep in the tournament. Amazingly, Makarova performs her best when she is faced with a tough draw, as seen in Rome two weeks ago when she defeated Vinci and Cibulkova back to back in the first couple of rounds. It would be interesting to see if Makarova would be able to keep up a consistent level of high-quality tennis throughout all her matches.