With the French Open a few days away, it’s time to assess the conditions and contenders for Women’s Singles glory at Roland Garros across the next few weeks. Read on to inform your WTA French Open predictions.
WTS French Open: Who are the contenders?
As has been the case over the last few years in women’s Grand Slam events, the women’s tournament looks extremely competitive. There are currently 22 players priced at below 50.00* at Pinnacle for the title, and the often-made assertion that there are 20 to 30 players who will justifiably consider themselves contenders to make the business end of the tournament definitely looks applicable here as well.
However, Simona Halep at 3.77* is priced slightly shorter than many Grand Slam favourites, and this is a consequence of her success in the clay warm-up events. Halep won the two clay events she’s played post-lockdown, lifting a trophy in Prague before winning a bigger event last week in Rome, and is clearly the in-form player going into the tournament.
The conditions in Paris are unlikely to be an issue for Halep. Historically at Roland Garros, the courts have featured medium-paced matches, with 55.7% of service points won over the last three years, a figure which is very similar to the 55.1% clay mean figure over the same period of time.
If conditions were quicker, it might be a little more problematic for Halep. Indeed, she dropped several sets against lower-level opposition in quicker conditions in Prague, although it’s difficult to dispute her status as favourite here.
Over the last 18 months on clay, only one player has a higher combined service and return points won percentage than Halep: Serena Williams.
Unfortunately for the younger Williams sister, her level since the resumption of the tour isn’t in line with that longer-term data. She’s running at just over 104% combined, which makes her level around top 20 post-lockdown. Williams will need to get back to her best to be a real threat in this tournament, and this is evidenced by her current price of 13.79*.
Options in the Outright markets
Between Halep and Williams in the outright market is Garbine Muguruza at 7.29* and Kiki Bertens at 11.67*, while Victoria Azarenka is the same price as Williams at the time of writing. Muguruza surprisingly lost to Tsvetana Pironkova at the US Open, and reached the semi-final last week in Rome, losing to Halep.
As for Bertens, she retired with injury in Strasbourg this week, a potential blow for a player who deliberately skipped the hard court season and US Open to prepare for her preferred clay surface. Azarenka has been superb in US hard court events since the tour resumed, but even at her previous peak, she was never really an elite clay-courter and has much to prove on the surface.
Of those players priced between 15.00* and 50.00*, it’s interesting to focus on a few players who have solid medium-term clay data in particular. Karolina Pliskova 16.97* rates well on clay data but retired in the final of Rome last week, while Madison Keys is in a similar position after retiring last time out at the US Open.
However, there are some other players with good clay numbers and who have performed quite well on the surface since the tour resumed. Elena Rybakina rates fourth on tour for her combined service and return points won percentage on clay in the last 18 months and is currently in the quarter-finals at Strasbourg, while last year’s Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova looked much better in Rome last week after struggling for the last couple of months. She’s currently in among the many players priced around the 20.00* mark, at 22.27*.
A number of those contenders have much to prove on the surface - Cori Gauff has little in the way of main tour clay matches to assess, while both Jennifer Brady and Sofia Kenin haven’t recorded particularly strong surface numbers at this stage of their careers.
Kenin was double-bageled last week by Azarenka in Rome, so will need to find plenty of improvement on that to threaten in Paris over the next two weeks.
Overall, it is anticipated that the women’s French Open will be a very competitive event and a fascinating tournament is in prospect.