Now the second rounds and half the third have been completed at Roland Garros, it’s time to look back at who’s impressed so far and who has the potential to make the finals stages late next week.
Both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova look strong – as they should do – but the latter’s 6-2 6-4 win over Eugenie Bouchard rose a few questions. While Sharapova won 80% of her first service points, on the second serve she was down at a 53% conversion rate. Effectively, she has no insurance on that second serve and that could cost her at important moments later in the tournament.
As for Serena, the world number one has powered through to round four having dropped just six games so far. There’s a reason she’s favourite to win this tournament and Serena’s only challenge before the final will be Sara Errani.
It’s pleasing to see the top five in the WTA have all made it through but Li Na’s exit on Wednesday was a surprise. The Chinese world number six crashed in three sets to Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who took her opportunity as Li faltered.
Caroline Wozniacki, too, fell in the second but this is of no astonishment. The Dane has struggled on clay ever since that quarters appearance in Charleston and she’s now exited the last five tournaments before the third round. Her only victory since 1 April was over an unconvincing one over Laura Robson here in Paris, and it was no surprise she lasted little time against Mattek-Sands.
If you’re looking to back an outsider in this race then Sara Errani is your girl. The Italian world number five has been in impervious form so far, dropping just nine games from six sets. Although she was pushed to a 6-0 6-4 win the second set by Sabine Lisicki, that extra game time may come in handy if and when she meets Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarters.
As for forgotten world number three Victoria Azarenka, few can see her surpassing Sharapova in the semis but the Belarusian should at least make it to the last four because of Li’s exit in her side of the draw.
The French Open looks likely to be hotly contested heading into next week and this weekend should provide a couple of upsets. The big one of Saturday may be Angelique Kerber’s demise, for the German has struggled to combat opponents so far and faces the in-form Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Head photo: y.caradec, flickr