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French Open: Roland Garros Womens Preview

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The 2007 French Open kicks off on Sunday the 27th in Paris. Draws for both womens and mens singles will be available Friday. And with a slew of able competitors this year vying for that trophy, Claire Mayer from Lawntennisnews will handicap the field for you.

The Romantic Favorite

Justine Henin: She has an intimate relationship with Roland Garros, enjoys playing on clay, and is in top form. Unquestionably the ‘queen of clay’, she is also the favorite to win the tournament. She won in Warsaw and had an impressive roll in Berlin, which included coming back from a 0-4 deficit in the third round to win it 6-4. Her history with the tournament gives her an added intrigue. My pick to win.

The Unpredictable Russian

Maria Sharapova: She hasn’t excelled at the French Open but hasn’t exactly failed at it either. Her game isn’t that suited to clay but she’s slowly adapting to it. An injury having kept her off the courts since Miami, her lack of preparation could be an issue, and her actual participation is yet to set in stone. She’ll try to overpower weaker opponents, but as the tournament progresses they will be less forgiving towards her serve. A good draw could see her through to the QF, a bad draw could be a synonym for a R3 exit.

The Talented Baseliner

roland garrosSvetlana Kutzensova: She got to the final last year, and was beaten by Justine Henin. She beat Henin in Berlin, but the head-to-head between the two still reads 14-2 in Henin’s favor. Impressive in Rome, where she reached the final by beating golden girl Daniela Hantuchova, and lost to Ivanovic in the final in Berlin. A “power player” who can hold her own against so-called ‘pretty players’, she has a game which is suited to clay. QF or SF, depending on her form.

The Reluctant Savior

Amelie Mauresmo: Roland Garros and hometown girl Mauresmo have never really gotten along. An appendix operation kept her off the courts for 6 weeks, but her return in Berlin and Rome were marked by early round exists. She played Strasbourg for extra match practice. A good player on court, the real issue is not the surface but her nerves — she has never done well in front of her home crowd at Roland Garros. It would be nice to see her get to the QF, but so much depends on her mental toughness.

The Ambitious Achiever

Jelena Jankovic: She’ll probably be hoping to avoid old foes Ana Ivanovic and Justine Henin in the draw. Impressive results this year, especially on clay (finalist in Rome, lost the QF in Berlin and SF in Warsaw to Henin). She sometimes lets her attention slip when closing out her match, which is costly against foes like Henin or possibly Williams. Lacked consistency last year, but this is year is absolutely on fire, and there is no real reason as to why she shouldn’t do well at the French Open. Assuming she doesn’t come across Ivanovic or Henin in early rounds, she should at least get into the QF, SF if the draw is kind to her.

The New Challenger

Ana Ivanovic: If she still tends to lack consistency, her recent results show that she is rapidly progressing. She won in Berlin, so she proved she can handle clay quite effectively. She’s gaining experience in Grand Slams, so it should be interesting to see how she does at the French Open. No real reason as to why she shouldn’t get to the QF, unless her lack of consistency comes into play. 

The Entertainer

Serena Williams: She got into the QF in Rome, yet I still find her too inconstant. I believe her draw (and motivation?) will ultimately determine how she does. She won the Australian Open, and yet I’m still not totally convinced. She beat Henin in the Miami final, but it’ll be interesting to see how she copes if she meets Henin on ‘her’ terms (clay court). Williams is definitely unpredictable, but one thing’s for sure: she’ll definitely surprise you. Finalist or early exit. 

The Show Pony

Tatiana Golovin: France’s favorite ‘show pony’ won her first title on clay at Amelia Island, led France to 5-0 victory over Japan in the QF of the Fed Cup, yet recurring injuries have kept her sidelined since. Along with Sharapova, her presence at the French Open is doubtful. A show pony in the truest sense of the term, she brings a mix of style and substance, yet much like Ivanovic, is at times inconsistent. Will be interesting to see how she deals with the Grand Slam pressure. R4 with possible QF, but a lot depends on her fitness, as well.

The Russian Antidote

Camille Pin: She scared the devil out of Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open and forced Safina to three sets in the Gaz de France. She’s sitting at #80 in the world, so I wouldn’t bet on her making it that far, but she meets a Russian in the first round, there’ll be definite entertainment. Mauresmo once joked that Pin gets the Russians “all hot and bothered”. Possibly an even worse serve than Dementieva, but she does play ‘pretty’ tennis and will be hoping to progress. One to watch, even if she probably won’t make it beyond the first round.

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