2024 French Open Roland Garros Women's Preview: Can anyone stop Iga Swiatek's reign as Queen of Clay?

Friday, 24 May 2024 at 11:28
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Running from May 26 to June 9, the French Open takes place at Roland Garros with yet another edition of the second Grand Slam of the year. But the question is ahead of the clay court foray, can anyone stop the so-called Queen of Clay, Iga Swiatek?
Swiatek could record a fourth French Open title having won the title in 2020, 2022 and 2023 and could join the real greats in Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Justine Henin in lifting the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen four times in the open era. She has also been in demon form during the clay court season and our preview assesses her chances of adding to her title haul as well as the chances of others.

Sublime Swiatek heads into Paris after Dirt Ball Double with Sabalenka lurking

Sealing the so-called Dirt Ball Double, Iga Swiatek could make history as the only player alongside Serena Williams to seal all three in a row in the form of Madrid-Rome-Paris in a row and who could bet against her chances.
The only tournament that she has realistically floundered on over the past few months since the Australian Open has been Stuttgart and maybe Dubai at a stretch. The former of course on a surface more befitting of the World No.1 than Dubai. Her dominance in the former was ended by Elena Rybakina. But this often serves more as a real boost to her confidence long term.
Losing to Linda Noskova at the Australian Open meant that she returned fairly quickly and sealed titles in the Middle East and in this case, she went on to win in Madrid then Rome. The Spanish city in particular has been a real source of head scratching in recent years. Amid all of her dominance in Rome and Paris, she has never won Madrid. Until this year where she defeated Aryna Sabalenka in the final. She did the same in Rome with the Belarusian seemingly despite falling short being the player who could take it to her.
Swiatek will face off against Naomi Osaka potentially in the second round in a blockbuster tie. A potential roadblock for the former, can 'Clayomi' come to the fore.
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Iga Swiatek is the current Queen of Clay, but can anyone dethrone her. Aryna Sabalenka? Coco Gauff? Even Naomi Osaka?
It will be interesting to note too how Sabalenka bounces back from disappointment. She got thrashed by Elena Rybakina in the Brisbane final earlier this season and then went on to win the Australian Open. In the US Open similarly, she was beaten by Coco Gauff and then went on to beat her in Australia. It is very much a game of Sabalenka gaining battle scars but not letting it define her. But will the prior losses aid as tonic or will they be a footnote in another year of Sublime Swiatek's Roland Garros reign.
The only issue that could be befitting of Sabalenka could be that she lost to Karolina Muchova last year from a winning position at Roland Garros. In reality, that loss could still haunt her. But the Czech ace in comparison aside from a run at the US Open has barely played since then, so it is Sabalenka who has kicked on. She starts off against Erika Andreeva and it is a duo that sit above the rest and for good reason heading into Roland Garros.

Rybakina, Gauff best of the rest

The best of the rest are headed up by Elena Rybakina. The Kazakh though has some doubts. She pulled out of a tournament again in the form of Rome due to illness. A common theme of the former Wimbledon champion who is part of the so-called WTA Big Three. But often when she does play, she is there or thereabouts.
So it is a question of whether she makes it this year to Roland Garros. Last year, she didn't with illness holding her back until Wimbledon. She seemed to look fine when practicing with Sabalenka, but the proof will be when she takes to the court over the next week. So currently she has some doubts. But ones that will likely go either way in the coming days.
Illness aside, Elena Rybakina if fit will be there or thereabouts.
Coco Gauff could feasibly be World No.2 by the time the French Open finishes. A storyline that in reality has been going on for a while. As have her technical issues on court. She has had problems with double faults and her serve for a considerable amount of time which have become an achilles heel as of late. Albeit she has still been reaching latter stages of tournaments which certainly shows that when it is on, it is on and when it is not, it is an issue.
But given a lack of form with a lot of top names in the game aside from the main two, it is very much Open Season in an attempt to dethrone Iga Swiatek. Other names perhaps to look out for aren't those who have potentially caught the eye of others.
Qinwen Zheng pushed Iga Swiatek two years ago and is a former title winner on clay. She seems to be back into some form. Whilst Maria Sakkari who couldn't stop losing in the first round now goes to Last 16 or better in every tournament. Scar tissue perhaps after previous issues in semi-finals, but very much a player who could pick up the pieces.
Danielle Collins can be called best of the rest out of those in the running.
Danielle Collins of course who has been the queen of WTA Tennis in many ways or some would say mother winning back-to-back titles in Miami and Charleston. She is playing Strasbourg this week and is probably the biggest threat to the big two right now. Others may be there or thereabouts including Ons Jabeur, Marketa Vondrousova and even Elina Svitolina.
Jessica Pegula on another hand won't play at all with the American out with injury and is the main casualty alongside last year's finalist, Karolina Muchova from this year's draw. Bianca Andreescu is also slated to make her return for the first time since last August. A lot to digest and a tournament that unlike the men is perhaps less wide open. But as we know with WTA Tennis and as the Australian Open showed, anything can happen.

Iga Swiatek’s possible path to defending her Roland Garros title: R1 - Qualifier / Lucky Loser R2 - Osaka / Bronzetti R3 - Kudermetova / Bouzkova R4 - Krejcikova / Alexandrova / Potapova QF - Collins / Vondrousova / Kostyuk SF - Gauff / Ostapenko / Jabeur / Garcia F -…


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