By Ros Satar

  • Simona Halep achieved her dream this time last year, but can she do it again?
  • Top Seeds: Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Kiki Bertens
  • British Interest: Johanna Konta [26], Katie Boulter
PARIS, FRANCE – Simona Halep tries to do the Roland Garros double, but could face some very strong opposition once more this year.

 

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[1] Naomi Osaka

Best Result: Third Round (2016, 2018)

It has been a more promising start to the clay court season for Osaka, making strides to get deeper into the tournaments this year, so could she get past the third round this time?

 

Osaka’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Anna Karolina Schmiedlova | First meeting
  • R2: Jelena Ostapenko | Osaka leads H2H 1-0
  • R3: Maria Sakkari [29] | H2H Tied at 1-1
  • R4: Madison Keys [14] | Keys leads H2H 3-1
  • QF: Ashleigh Barty [8] | Barty leads H2H 2-1
  • SF: Simona Halep [3] | Halep leads H2H 4-1
  • F: Karolina Pliskova [2] | H2H Tied at 2-2

 

Surprisingly enough Osaka has beaten former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko on clay before (2016) and with her form still a little shaky at the moment, Osaka could well advance once more to the third round, but Maria Sakkari is not to be sniffed at on the clay this year, and with losing head to heads until a potential final match-up with Karolina Pliskova, Osaka might be lucky to match her previous best performances.

 

[2] Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Best Result: Semi-final (2017)

Momentum could be everything for Pliskova, who comes in as Rome champion, yet she finds herself with a challenging draw on paper.

 

Pliskova’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Madison Brengle | Pliskova leads H2H 3-0
  • R2: Svetlana Kuznetsova | H2H Tied at 2-2
  • R3: Petra Martic [31] | Martic leads H2H 3-1
  • R4: Caroline Wozniacki [13] | Wozniacki leads H2H 6-4
  • QF: Angelique Kerber [5] | Kerber leads H2H 7-4
  • SF: Kiki Bertens [4] | Bertens leads H2H 3-2
  • F: Naomi Osaka [1] | H2H Tied at 2-2

 

Pliskova starts to find herself up against players with a winning record over the big-serving Czech as early as the third round, although certainly she ought to be looking at a run to the quarter-finals at least. While Angelique Kerber wryly jokes about the ‘clay one’ missing from her slam titles, Pliskova had the measure of her most recently on the dirt in Fed Cup, and surprisingly Pliskova has a win over the very solid Bertens on clay.

 

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[3] Simona Halep

Simona Halep lifts the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen at Roland Garros, 2018

Simona Halep lifts the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen at Roland Garros, 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Best Result: Title (2018)

For many it was a joy to see Halep finally get over the line, especially after her heart-breaking loss from a winning position in 2017. Can she make it back to back titles?

 

Halep’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Ajla Tomljanovic | Halep leads H2H 1-0 (not incl. lower tier Fed Cup)
  • R2: Magda Linette | First meeting
  • R3: Lesia Tsurenko [27] | Halep leads H2H 7-0
  • R4: Wang Qiang [16] | Halep leads H2H 2-0
  • QF: Petra Kvitova [6] | Halep leads H2H 3-1
  • SF: Naomi Osaka [1] | Halep leads H2H 4-1
  • F: Karolina Pliskova [2] | Halep leads H2H 7-3

 

On paper it looks very encouraging. She looks to have recovered well from the injury niggle she had in Rome, and she has a solid record over the players in her way. If anyone is likely to give her trouble in her predicted path, it would most likely be the two Czechs who have racked up quite a few clay court titles over the past few years.

 

[4] Kiki Bertens

Kiki Bertens in the first round robin match at the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore

Kiki Bertens in the first round robin match at the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore | Jimmie48 Tennis Photgraphy

Best Result: Semi-final (2016)

The Madrid champion also comes into the tournament with some form, although she has a few challenges on paper.

 

Bertens’ Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Pauline Parmentier | Parmentier leads H2H 3-0
  • R2: Viktoria Kuzmova | H2H Tied at 1-1
  • R3: Johanna Konta [26] | Konta leads H2H 3-2
  • R4: Belinda Bencic [15] | Bertens leads H2H 3-0
  • QF: Sloane Stephens [7] | Stephens leads H2H 2-1
  • SF: Karolina Pliskova [2] | Bertens leads H2H 3-2
  • F: Naomi Osaka [1] | H2H Tied at 1-1

 

Her third-round encounter with Britain’s Johanna Konta will be intriguing. Konta seemed to unlock the achievements on clay in the run up to Roland Garros this year, and it was a hard-fought win over the Dutchwoman who was on a nine-match winning streak.

She ought to feel comfortable about at least making it to the quarter-finals this time around, but we might just be lining up for a rematch of the Madrid final if the stars align.

Roland Garros takes place between 26 May to 9 June

 

How to Watch/Follow Roland Garros

TV ITV4 (from May 26)

Eurosport (Subscription Required)

Live Stream Eurosport (Free trial with Amazon Prime)

 

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