As the clay court season draws to a close, the finale, the French open 2021 beckons. The best players from around the world will compete with that one goal in mind, to win the coveted trophy. This time the women’s division takes on a different mood as it doesn’t have one single clear favourite, and with the absence of Simona Halep that feeling is accentuated.
Before the commotion, before the melee, let’s take a moment to look at the five players who might lift the Women’s Singles trophy in Paris come June 12th. The players have not been chosen in any particular order.
The No.1 tennis player in the world Ash Barty suffered an early setback this year when she failed to do well at home in the Australian Open, but she took that failure in her stride and since then has gone from strength to strength. She won the Miami Open and then transitioned seamlessly into the clay court season winning the title at Stuttgart.
She reached the Final of the Madrid Open as well, but was beaten in the by Aryna Sabalenka. At Rome, she had to give an injury induced walkover to her opponent Coco Gauff. Barty said after that match that she will be hoping to be back to full fitness before the French open starts. The French Open Champion from 2019, Ash Barty, is in prime position to win back the title she gave up in 2020, when she did not participate in the French Open 2020.
Aryna Sabalenka has always been a good player on hard courts, but her lack of success on clay often raised questions about her clay court acumen. Sabalenka proved all her detractors wrong and had a fantastic run of matches at the clay court swing this year.
The powerfully built Belarusian started her clay court sojourn this year at the Stuttgart Open, where she reached the Finals of the event. In the finals she lost to Barty. But, Sabalenka got her revenge in the very next tournament. Where she beat Barty to win the Madrid Open. If she wins the French Open, this will be her first Grand Slam win.
Kvitova started the year well, winning the Qatar Open. But since then she has not been able to go beyond the Quarterfinals of any of the tournaments she has participated in.
But the thirty-one year old from Czech Republic has won titles on clay before and on her day can beat any opponent. Kvitova was a semi-finalist at last year’s French Open and certainly has the game to take two more steps this time.
The book makers favourite and last year’s champion Iga Swiatek has been in red hot form this year on clay too. In the two tournaments that she has participated in, on clay, she made it to the round of sixteen in one and won the other. At Madrid, she was beaten by Ash Barty in the Round of sixteen.
In the Italian Open she got her best game out and won the tournament with just one set dropped. In the final, she inflicted a humiliating defeat to Karolina Pliskova, the scoreline 6-0 6-0. Swiatek is in form, high on confidence and most importantly injury free. The Pole is in pole position to win her second consecutive French Open.
Slowly but surely this seventeen year old is making a name for herself on the tour. Tall ,athletic, and strong, the American has taken a liking to the clay court, after previously publicly stating that she doesn’t like them.
Coco Gauff reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open beating names such as Aryna Sabalenka, Maria Sakkari and even Ash Barty. At the Parma Open that followed, Gauff beat Qiang Wang to lift the trophy. Gauff will undoubtedly be the dark horse in this year’s French open.
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