Photograph: Getty Images
In our Men’s preview we broke down the last 17 French Open champions which read like this:
On the women’s side it is a very different story and it reads:
BARTY, KREJCIKOVA, MUGURUZA, SWIATEK, HALEP, IVANOVIC, OSTAPENKO, LI NA, SCHIAVONE AND KUZNETSOVA 1.
Of those 13 winners, nine of them one their first ever slam title at the French, indicating the event has represented the launching point for many careers.
Almost more significantly, the last eight French Open’s have been won by eight different players, and five of those eight players will be in the draw this year, with only Sharapova (retired), Barty (retired) and Serena Williams (injured) absent.
One of those remaining five is Iga Swiatek, the new world No.1 who is on a 28 match winning streak and is clearly the player to beat here.
Swiatek’s last defeat (one of only three for the year) came to Jelena Ostapenko in the second round at Dubai three months ago.
Since that day she has won the title in Qatar, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome, with the latter two coming on clay.
Since the Ash Barty loss at the Adelaide International, Swiatek has played seven matches against players ranked in the top ten (Jabeur, Sabalenka three times, Sakkari twice and Kontaveit). Her set scores in those matches have been 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2, 6-0, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
This 28 match winning streak has included bagel sets against: Kastakina, Kontaveit, Osaka, Keys, Kalinina, Golubic, Brengle, Buzarnescu, Prisacariu, Ruse, Andreescu.
She has won 42 of her last 43 sets through the clay court season in one of the most dominant periods of form we have seen in quite some time.
At just 20 years of age, she appears the one most likely to take the mantle left in the aftermath of Serena Williams who dominated the game for more than a decade.
Analyzing the field and trying to find someone who can beat her is a difficult task, but here are some of the contenders.
Krejcikova is the defending champion but hasn’t taken to the court since February 26 due to arm and side pain.
If she is to win the tournament again, she’ll have to do it off no lead-in matches for three months.
On the plus side, she is one of the more multi-dimensional players on tour who is ideally suited to clay, and has the necessary grit to push herself deep.
Badosa narrowly missed a semi-final at the French Open last year, going down 8-6 in the third set to Zidansek in the quarters.
The performance highlighted the growth in her game over the past two years, including victory at Indian Wells in 2021, and a maiden clay court title in Serbia.
She is a former junior champion at Roland Garros as well, although her lead in form on clay has been solid without being spectacular.
She appears to have more immediate upside than most, and would be in the frame to challenge.
Lost a semi-final in heartbreaking fashion last year and is generally an excellent clay court player.
Hasn’t had an amazing start to the season on dirt however, and probably needs to find another gear to push deep this time.
Has gone 17-3 on clay this season, reaching three finals in a month in the process.
Defeated Bencic, Halep and Pegula on the way to the crown in Madrid and is a tough competitor. Has hit the French Open in the right form.
A coaching change has been a development in Halep’s season with the man who coaches everyone, Patrick Moratoglu taking the reins.
Halep is a former champion here, and when she is on top of her game, she is one of the hardest players on tour to break down on this surface.
Not sure she’s quite at that peak yet, but can take some confidence from time on court in Madrid and Rome.
Other minor chances include BELINDA BENCIC who defeated Jabeur, Badosa and Keys on the way to the Charleston title.
DANIELLE COLLINS who has a solid clay court record, albeit some injury interruptions have hurt her preparation.
ARYNA SABALENKA who is a constant danger due to her ball striking, but with 205 double faults for the year (Compared to 90 from Swiatek), is a little too wayward at present.
And finally ANETT KONTAVEIT who started the year brilliantly, but has tapered off a little bit in recent weeks.