French Open women’s draw has Serena Williams set to face familiar opponents at Roland Garros

hannahwilks in French Open 24 Sep 2020
Williams’ wait for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title goes on (PA Images)

The 2020 French Open women’s singles draw has been released with Serena Williams on a potential collision course with Victoria Azarenka.

Three-time Roland Garros champion Williams will open her campaign against Kristie Ahn, the same player she faced in the first round of the US Open a few weeks ago.

If she wins, she could face Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round. The Bulgarian, recently unretired after maternity leave, pushed Williams to three sets in the quarterfinals in New York.

In the fourth round, Williams could face Victoria Azarenka, the in-form Belarusian who beat her in a superb US Open semifinal.

Azarenka has her own case of déjà vu to get through before any potential clash with Williams – she could face Venus Williams, who she has played twice in her past four tournaments, in the second round.

The 2020 French Open singles draw was conducted electronically on Thursday ahead of the start of the tournament on Sunday 27 September.

Roland Garros still plans to allow limited spectators despite surging COVID-19 cases in France and government restrictions which prohibit more than 1,000 people from gathering.

Defending champion Ashleigh Barty declined to travel from Australia, while Bianca Andreescu has also pulled out. US Open champion Naomi Osaka withdrew citing insufficient time to prepare for the tournament, while Belinda Bencic’s withdrawal was announced at the draw ceremony but no details were given.

The projected quarterfinals according to seeding:

(1) Simona Halep vs Kiki Bertens (5)
(3) Elina Svitolina vs Serena Williams (6)
(8) Aryna Sabalenka vs Sofia Kenin (4)
(7) Petra Kvitova vs Karolina Pliskova (2)

Top seed Simona Halep underlined her status as French Open favourite when she won the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and comes into the tournament she won in 2018 on a 14-match winning streak. But the world no. 2 could face Amanda Anisimova, who beat her 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals in 2019, in the third round, with 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova a potential fourth-round opponent.

Johanna Konta, a semifinalist at the French Open in 2019, will face rising American teenager Coco Gauff in a blockbuster first round. The winner could face Halep in the quarterfinals.

Garbine Muguruza, another in-form player tipped for a deep run, has landed in the Sabalenka-Kenin quarter and could face Jennifer Brady, the US Open quarterfinalist on superb form in 2020, in the third round.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova will have to contend with former finalists: She could face 2017 winner Jelena Ostapenko in the second round and the 2018 runner-up Sloane Stephens in the third. In the same quarter, Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys are among potential fourth-round opponents for Petra Kvitova.