Dodin continued to rise in the rankings this year, peaking at the 55th spot just two weeks ago. Being a young rising star, the French player was quite often putting in some inconsistent performances and fell to players who were lower-ranked than her, but was able to beat higher-ranked players.
Kuznetsova had some tough periods of time this year, having to wait until Indian Wells to reach her first final. Nevertheless, some deep runs into other tournaments helped the Russian to maintain her ranking in the Top 10 and even make a push into the top five, missing the chance at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Dodin’s clay court results leading up to Roland Garros
Oceane Dodin had a fair clay court season thus far, despite starting it on a negative note. Falling in the qualification rounds of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Dodin earned her first ever WTA main draw win on the clay courts at the J&T Banka Prague Open the following week after defeating Annika Beck. Despite falling to eventual champion Mona Barthel in the second round, it was an encouraging performance by the Frenchwoman. Dodin then had a breakthrough tournament in Madrid when she prevailed in all of her qualifying matches, entering the main draw for the first time there.
In the main draw, she defeated former Roland Garros semifinalist Andrea Petkovic in the first round before causing a huge shock against then-world number five Dominika Cibulkova in the second round. However, her run came to a sudden halt when compatriot Kristina Mladenovic came out firing and only lost three games in their third round match. Earning another confidence-boosting victory over Zhang Shuai in Nuremberg saw the Frenchwoman enter Roland Garros with renewed confidence to win her first ever match here.
Kuznetsova’s clay court results leading up to Roland Garros
Svetlana Kuznetsova’s first clay court tournament this year was at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where she powered past defending Roland Garros semifinalist Kiki Bertens in the first round before falling to an inspired Laura Siegemund, who went on to clinch the title that week. She bounced back at the Mutua Madrid Open, storming her way to the semifinals as she saved a match point along the way.
A win in the semifinals against doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic could have brought her back into the Top 10, but her failure to win the match caused her to remain at the eighth spot in the rankings after the tournament. A disappointing tournament in Rome followed as she wasted a couple of leads in the final set against Daria Gavrilova in the third round.
First round performances
Dodin won her first ever French Open match as she defeated fellow hard-hitter Camila Giorgi in the first round two days ago. The Frenchwoman looked to be in excellent form, with her groundstrokes being consistent and solid throughout the match.
In her first round match at the French Open this year, Kuznetsova whiskered past the dangerous Christina McHale as she had to battle for the win after over two hours of play, but still managed to triumph in straight sets.
Oceane Dodin plays a very aggressive game and has to dictate play throughout the match for any chance to triumph in this blockbuster match-up. Dodin has to rely on her powerful groundstrokes to prevail in baseline rallies and has to ensure that her game remains solid and consistent. The Frenchwoman should also try to have a high first serve percentage so as to prevent Kuznetsova from being able to exploit those weak second serves of Dodin. She should also try to attempt some drop shots in the midst of groundstroke rallies to mix up Kuznetsova’s rhythm and catch her off-guard.
Svetlana Kuznetsova definitely has more weapons than Dodin, but she still has to ensure that she is playing some good tennis to defeat such a dangerous opponent like her. Kuznetsova must be aggressive and should try not to be too passive, which often backfires on her especially against players with offensive styles of tennis. Mixing in some slices and drop shots is recommended and Kuznetsova should also try to go up to the net often and finish off points. She could also utilize a kick serve on her second serves, forcing Dodin to return those shots behind the baseline and at an awkward position. If both players play their best tennis, it definitely should be a good match.