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French Open 2020: Women’s singles draw analysis, preview and predictions

Proven Roland Garros champions Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza are the favourites but does the draw support their French Open chances?

We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina lead the draw at the 2020 French Open.

French Open 2020: Preview

With players enclosed in a bio-security bubble, only 1,000 spectators allowed per day and the tournament rescheduled from sunny June to chilly, damp October, the 2020 French Open will be unlike any other edition of the Grand Slam in its history.

Naomi Osaka triumphed at the US Open under its own unusual conditions, but Osaka, along with defending champion Ashleigh Barty, is one of the absentees from the French Open. Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu are also not playing.

That doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of contenders for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. Former winners Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams are all among the favourites to regain the trophy. On the other hand, the French Open has seen six first-time major winners on the women’s side in the past decade. Could there be a seventh in 2020?

French Open Draw Analysis

Top Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Simona Halep (1) vs Kiki Bertens (5)
Tournament favourite Halep comes in on glittering form, having won her last 14 matches – ten of them on clay as she captured the Prague Open and Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome – and with a 28-9 record at Roland Garros, having made the quarterfinals or better for the past three years.

But the draw immediately threw up some potential obstacles for Halep. Jil Teichmann, the rising Swiss player, was helpfully taken out by Irina-Camelia Begu, against whom Halep is 7-0. More concerningly, Amanda Anisimova, who blasted Halep off the court in straight sets in last year’s quarterfinals, was her projected third-round opponent.

In the end, Halep rose to the occasion in tremendous style. Nineteen-year-old Anisimova has looked a bit lost this season, but the top seed gave her no opportunity to find her feet, trouncing her 6-0, 6-1.

Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 runner-up, was projected to await in the round of 16 and had beaten Halep in both their previous meetings, but the Czech was an early casualty of talented young Pole Iga Swiatek in the first round. Swiatek went on to beat Su-Wei Hsieh and Eugenie Bouchard, the former top-10 player and French Open semifinalist, in the draw as a wildcard. Halep and Swiatek will meet in the last 16, a rematch of last year’s encounter at the same stage which Halep won 6-1, 6-0.

The 2019 semifinalist Johanna Konta went out to Coco Gauff in the first round, while fifth seed Kiki Bertens is not really a strong Grand Slam performer despite her clay-court prowess and retired in Strasbourg due to an Achilles injury. Full-body cramps saw the Dutch player wheelchaired off the court after a marathon battle against Sara Errani in the second round, but she returned rejuvenated two days later to record a very solid victory over Katerina Siniakova. Bertens now looks a much likelier quarterfinalist as she will face either Maria Sakkari or Martina Trevisan, who eliminated Coco Gauff.

Halep is playing too well at the moment not to pick her to come through to the semifinals, but Bertens is emerging as a potential threat: Their head-to-head is 3-3, with Bertens actually leading 2-1 on clay courts.

Predicted semifinalist: Halep (6/5 @ SkyBet to win her quarter)

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Elina Svitolina (5) vs Serena Williams (6)
Svitolina only returned to competition in Rome, where she made the quarterfinals, and won the Strasbourg title the week before Roland Garros. A two-time French Open quarterfinalist, and twice a Grand Slam semifinalist in 2019, Svitolina’s tennis hasn’t been too inspiring so far – she was patchy in being dragged to three by Renata Zarazua in the second round – but she was up to the challenge of beating Ekaterina Alexandrova, more formidable on hard courts than clay, in the third.

Svitolina has lost her last three matches against Caroline Garcia – will she be in trouble when they meet in the fourth round? Garcia ousted Australian Open quarterfinalist Anett Kontaveit in the first round and then tricky Aliaksandra Sasnovich to set up a third-round clash with Elise Mertens. Mertens came in on nice form, and crushed Garcia in the first set, but spurred on by an enthusiastic if small Philippe-Chatrier crowd, Garcia came back to win in three dramatic sets. Just about nobody picked Garcia to make the quarterfinals in Paris for a second time, but she now looks nicely poised to do so – and perhaps go even further.

The bottom half of this section was blown wide open on Wednesday by the withdrawal of Serena Williams due to a left Achilles injury and the defeat of Victoria Azarenka at the hands of Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who also beat Venus Williams. Now qualifier Nadia Podoroska or Barbora Krejcikova, the unseeded Czech better known as a doubles player up until this point, will be in the quarterfinals awaiting Svitolina or Garcia.

Predicted semifinalist: Svitolina (8/5 @ 888Sport to win her quarter)

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Aryna Sabalenka (8) vs Sofia Kenin (4)
Clay is not Sabalenka’s best surface and I don’t think these conditions will be a good match for her, but the powerful Belarusian has fought her way into the third round past Daria Kasatkina, a former quarterfinalist showing flickers of resurgence. Ons Jabeur should end Sabalenka’s run, with her unorthodox, crafty tennis.

Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion who made the Australian Open final in January, was a popular pick coming in, but her draw is unpleasant. Her opening opponent Tamara Zidansek is a good clay-courter, and ended up pushing Muguruza the distance – the Spaniard had to dig out a win from 0-3 down in the decider. Muguruza was able to keep things simpler in a straight-sets win over Kristyna Pliskova, but third-round opponent Danielle Collins can cause top players all sorts of problems even if clay isn’t her preferred surface.

Garbine Muguruza (Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA)

Should Muguruza power her way through that lot, she’s likely got to contend with Jabeur and then perhaps Sofia Kenin in the quarterfinals. Kenin beat Muguruza at the Australian Open, she beat Serena Williams at this tournament last year; she lost her only warm-up match 0-6, 0-6 to Azarenka in Rome, but she got past Liudmilla Samsonova, who has been playing well, in R1 and she’s got a nice draw to play her way in. The other potential threat is Fiona Ferro, the Palermo Open champion, who has looked ominous over the summer and took out 14th seed Elena Rybakina. Ferro will face Istanbul champion Patricia Maria Tig with the winner likely to face Kenin.

Muguruza had injury concerns in Rome, but in six years she’s not failed to reach the last 16; she’s 0-2 vs Kenin, but they have never played on clay. Despite a tough draw the 2016 champion still looks like the player to beat in these damp conditions.

Predicted semifinalist: Muguruza (13/8 @ SkyBet to win her quarter)

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Petra Kvitova (7) vs Karolina Pliskova (2)
Second seed Pliskova is a former French Open semifinalist and played well in Rome to reach the final, only to be sidelined by injury and have to retire against Halep. Injury, however, had nothing to do with a straight-sets defeat to Jelena Ostapenko in the second round which has left Ostapenko looking very much like a force to be reckoned with in this tournament once more.

Champion in Paris in 2017 when she blasted her way to the title, Ostapenko showcased a much more well-rounded game in her upset of Pliskova and has avoided having to take on former finalist Sloane Stephens in the third, with the American going out to Paula Badosa.

Should Ostapenko beat Badosa, she will face Petra Martic or Laura Siegemund, both finesse players who can’t match Ostapenko’s power but could disrupt her game – that’s a tough ask for the Latvian to come through that match.

Petra Kvitova was a French Open semifinalist in 2012 but has made the second week just once since then. She hasn’t dropped a set in the first two rounds, and faces 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez, a fellow lefty, in the third round. Should Kvitova make it back to the round of 16 at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015, she is likely to face the experienced Zhang Shuai. Zhang knocked out Madison Keys in the first round and then Alize Cornet, and faces wildcard Clara Burel – who knocked out the talented Kaja Juvan, who had ousted Angelique Kerber – in the last 32. Kvitova lost her only previous clay-court match against Zhang.

Semifinalist: Martic (9/2 @ Paddy Power to win her quarter)

French Open 2020: Prediction

Semifinals:

Halep d. Svitolina
Muguruza d. Martic

Final:

Halep d. Muguruza

In a battle of French Open champions, can Garbine Muguruza get her first win on clay over Simona Halep and reach the Rome final to boot?

Azarenka vs Muguruza is live from Rome on Saturday 19 September, 2pm local/1pm BST

World no. 2 Simona Halep is out to underline her status as favourite for the French Open by reaching the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for the third time, and has yet to drop a set in Rome, reaching the semifinals when Yulia Putintseva retired trailing 2-6, 0-2.

WTA Rome 2020: Find out tournament information for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and how to stream ATP Rome matches live

Now on a 12-match winning streak, Halep faces the last woman to beat her, Garbine Muguruza, in a mesmerising semifinal clash. Muguruza leads the head-to-head but has never beaten Halep on a clay court.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Halep vs Muguruza live

WTA Rome matches including Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

1. Click here to go to bet365
2. Sign in or open an account and deposit £5 or more
3. Go to tennis > WTA Rome > Halep vs Muguruza

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify

Halep vs Muguruza: Head-to-head

Garbine Muguruza leads the head-to-head with Simona Halep 4-2, and won their most recent encounter 7-6(8), 7-5 in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

But Halep has won the only two matches the two have played on clay, beating Muguruza in Stuttgart in 2015 and 6-1, 6-4 at the French Open in 2018.

Halep vs Muguruza: Preview

It’s crazy to think that the last match Simona Halep lost was her semifinal clash with Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open: A gruelling affair which lasted over two hours on a scorching hot day and saw Muguruza save four set points in the first set, then break Halep as she served to level the match, winning the last three games for a 7-6(8), 7-5 win.

Denied a place in the Australian Open final, Halep bounced back by winning her 20th and 21st career titles in Dubai and Prague on either side of the six-month shutdown enforced on tennis by the global pandemic. In addition to having won 12 straight matches, Halep has won her last 13 sets, beating Jasmine Paolini and Dayana Yastremska in straight sets in Rome before progressing to the semifinals when Yulia Putintseva retired trailing 2-6, 0-2, having seen her bright start to the match quickly disintegrate under the pressure of Halep’s assured shotmaking.

Halep went out to practice afterwards to try to make up for the limited time on court, which leaves her in an ambiguous position coming into the semifinals: On the one hand she has a definite energy advantage, but on the other, she’ll face a stiff rise in the level of competition she’s been up against when she takes the court against Muguruza.

Garbine Muguruza (Alfredo Falcone – LaPresse – PA Images)

In this clash of French Open and Wimbledon champions, Muguruza definitely arrives battle-hardened. Although she went out of the US Open early to the tricky Tsvetana Pironkova, the Spaniard has had a tough draw in Rome, beating Sloane Stephens and 2019 finalist Johanna Konta in straight sets and having to battle through three-set clashes with Coco Gauff and Victoria Azarenka.

Beating US Open finalist Azarenka has looked like a nearly impossible task of late, and the Belarusian came into the match having won 15 of her last 16 matches, but Muguruza proved herself equal to the challenge in a gruelling physical battle. Neither player had the momentum for long in an evenly-matched contest, with Muguruza leading 3-1 in the final set before nearly falling behind 3-5. While both players played attacking tennis whenever they were able, Muguruza defended brilliantly – something that’s a sign of her playing at or near her best – and was able to win, crucially, more points behind her second serve. That, and one more break of serve than Azarenka could muster, decided the 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 contest.

It only gets tougher, again, for Muguruza, though, as she tries to reach her first Rome final: A well-rested and seemingly fit Halep. Muguruza edged past Halep at the Australian Open with the aid of a slightly bigger serve, slightly more explosive shotmaking and, most importantly, attacking tennis at the biggest moments; those were all the elements which got Muguruza past Azarenka in the quarterfinals.

Halep vs Muguruza: Prediction

Victoria Azarenka has won 15 of her last 16 matches – will Garbine Muguruza be the one to stop her Rome run in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarterfinals?

Azarenka vs Muguruza is live from Rome on Saturday 19 September, 2pm local/1pm BST

US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka last made it past the quarterfinals in Rome in 2013, when she went all the way to the final – and Azarenka has been playing like it’s 2013 again in the past few weeks as the former world no. 1 racks up victories during a splendid resurgence.

WTA Rome 2020: Find out tournament information for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and how to stream ATP Rome matches live

Garbine Muguruza, like Azarenka a two-time Grand Slam champion and former world no. 1, is trying to pull out of a slump herself in 2020: The Australian Open finalist is out to reach her third semifinal of the season and her third at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but she’ll have to beat Azarenka to do it.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Azarenka vs Muguruza live

WTA Rome matches including Victoria Azarenka vs Garbine Muguruza are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

1. Click here to go to bet365
2. Sign in or open an account and deposit £5 or more
3. Go to tennis > WTA Rome > Azarenka vs Muguruza

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify

Azarenka vs Muguruza: Head-to-head

Victoria Azarenka technically leads the head-to-head with Garbine Muguruza 2-1, but only one of their matches has actually been completed: A 7-6(6), 7-6(4) victory for Azarenka in Miami back in 2016.

Two subsequent meetings ended in retirements, one from Azarenka in the Monterrey final in 2019, one from Muguruza at this same tournament last year.

Azarenka vs Muguruza: Preview

Despite many confident predictions that she would pull out of Rome altogether after a stunning month on the US swing saw her win the Western & Southern Open and reach the final of the US Open, Victoria Azarenka is into the quarterfinals at the Foro Italico, and she’s barely skipped a beat despite having to make a quick transition between continents and surfaces.

After beating Venus Williams in the first round, Azarenka delivered one of the most stunning beatdowns you’ll ever see to Sofia Kenin, beating the flailing Australian Open champion 6-0, 6-0 to book her place in the last 16. Against Daria Kasatkina on Friday, it seemed that Azarenka might be tested to her limits and perhaps beyond, with the Russian – a former top-10 player just showing signs of pulling out of a prolonged slump – led Azarenka by a break twice in the first set and even served for it before being taken to a tie-break. Unfortunately, two points into that tie-break, Kasatkina took a bad tumble, injuring her ankle, and was forced to retire.

Azarenka was the picture of sportsmanship, immediately fetching a bag of ice for her stricken opponent, helping Kasatkina to her chair, then going above and beyond to try to comfort the weeping Russian. It’s not the way that she would have liked to reach the quarterfinals – but she’s here.

The world no. 14 last made it past the quarterfinals in Rome in 2013, the same year she made her last Grand Slam final before this year’s US Open. Standing in her way is Muguruza, a two-time Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinalist and, like Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam champion – except that unlike Azarenka, one of Muguruza’s two majors came on clay at the French Open.

Garbine Muguruza has made the Rome semifinals twice (Foto Alfredo Falcone – LaPresse)

Muguruza’s runner-up finish to Kenin at the Australian Open in January was a welcome sign of life from the Spanish player, who had been playing sub-par tennis for a while, but her return to action post-shutdown didn’t go to plan – injury kept her from playing ‘Cincinnati’, and then she became the first high-profile victim of Tsvetana Pironkova’s upset run in the second round of the US Open.

On clay this week, though, Muguruza has started to look formidable, beating Sloane Stephens and 2019 runner-up Johanna Konta in straight sets on either side of winning a long, intense tussle with Coco Gauff.

The head-to-head between Azarenka and Muguruza is not much help here: Their only completed match was in 2016, a win in two tie-breaks for Azarenka. The Belarusian is on incredible form, but she also must have fatigue issues which will at some point kick in; clay is a better surface for Muguruza. Game-wise they’re well-matched: Muguruza has a bigger serve, Azarenka a better return; Muguruza is a slightly more explosive hitter, Azarenka a better mover; both women are more about taking the ball early than anything else. Purely because of her comfort level on this surface, I think Muguruza will win, but it’s going to be tight.

Azarenka vs Muguruza: Prediction

Muguruza to win