Ashleigh Barty in the first round of the Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham 2019
Ashleigh Barty in the first round of the Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Tennis | Roland Garros 2021 | Women’s Draw Preview

  • Iga Swiatek will defend her maiden title
  • Top Seeds: Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, Sofia Kenin
  • British Interest: Johanna Konta, Heather Watson
PARIS, FRANCE – Former champion Simona Halep is out with an injury, and Iga Swiatek will face the challenge of defending her maiden slam.


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[1] Ashleigh Barty

Best Result: Title (2019)

But for one stumble with a first round exit in Adelaide, Barty has been consistent at making either quarter-finals or finals, winning three titles in four trips to the final weekend. On the dirt she won in Stuttgart, and lost in Madrid before a quarter-final exit in Rome.

All in all, the Aussie has picked up the new season after not competing at all after the onset of the pandemic in 2020.


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

  • R1: Bernarda Pera | First Meeting
  • R2: Magda Linette | First Meeting
  • R3: Ons Jabeur [25] | H2H: Barty leads 1-0
  • R4: Jennifer Brady [13] | H2H: Barty leads 2-1
  • QF: Elina Svitolina [5] | H2H: Svitolina leads 5-3
  • SF: Sofia Kenin [4] | H2H: Barty leads 4-2
  • F: Naomi Osaka [2]| H2H: Tied at 2-2

There are a few potential hiccups in this draw that could mean that Barty might not have it all her own way if she wants to claim a second Slam but there is no denying that the prolonged break did her no harm.


[2] Naomi Osaka

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Best Result: Third Round (2016, 2018-2019)

As if her record was not shaky enough for the four-time Slam champion, her decision to not do any type of press, pre-tournament, win or loss will now overshadow anything she might achieve this fortnight.


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

  • R1: Patrica Maria Tig | H2H: Osaka leads 1-0
  • R2: Ana Bogdan | First Meeting
  • R3: Paula Badosa [33] | H2H: Tied at 1-1
  • R4: Kiki Bertens [16] | H2H: Osaka 2-1
  • QF: Bianca Andreescu [6] | H2H: Osaka 1-0
  • SF: Aryna Sabalenka [3] | H2H: Osaka leads 1-0
  • F: Ashleigh Barty [1] | H2H: Tied at 2-2

Let’s be honest, with one clay court win behind her this season, she might at least pick up a couple of rounds but her early rounds are against people who have a lot more clay in their shoes, and once she comes up against a more established clay courter it is unlikely she will go further than the first week.



[3] Aryna Sabalenka

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Best Result: Third Round

Sabalenka’s back-to-back finals this year were on the slicker, quicker clay and atmosphere in Stuttgart an Madrid, but once back on the claggier surface of Rome and Paris, it has not been the same story.


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

  • R1: QUALIFIER | H2H:
  • R2: Aliaksandra Sasnovich | H2H: Sabalenka leads 1-0
  • R3: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [31] | H2H: Tied at 1-1
  • R4: Victoria Azarenka [15] | H2H: Sabalenka leads 2-1
  • QF: Serena Williams [7] | H2H: Williams leads 1-0
  • SF: Naomi Osaka [2] | H2H: Osaka leads 1-0
  • F: Ashleigh Barty [1] | H2H: Tied at 4-4

The colder claggy clay may not be as easy for her to hit through judging from her past results and she could have to end two of her compatriots’ dreams of clay court glory en route to the final. She ought to get through to the fourth round.


[4] Sofia Kenin

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Best Result: Final (2020)

It has all felt a bit of a struggle for Kenin since she claimed her maiden Slam title in 2020 before the entire world shut down. She started the year well enough with two quarter-finals but an appendectomy and parting with her father as her coach has made for a fragmented run and no wins at all yet on the clay.


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

  • R1: Jelena Ostapenko | H2H: Ostapenko leads 1-0
  • R2: Anna Blinkova | H2H: Kenin leads 1-0
  • R3: Jessica Pegula [28] | H2H: Pegula leads 2-1
  • R4: Elise Mertens [14] | H2H: Kenin leads 2-1
  • QF: Iga Swiatek [8] | H2H: Swiatek leads 1-0
  • SF: Ashleigh Barty [1] | H2H: Barty leads 4-2
  • F: Naomi Osaka [2] | H2H: Tied at 2-2

Some players thrive on having won a major title but Kenin cut a sorry figure at the start of the year and we’re not sure that she is quite all on the level as she comes into the second Slam of the year. It is probably a good move though to move on from her father guiding her career and it will be good to see how she carries herself over the next few weeks as clay and grass follow in quick succession.

Roland Garros takes place between 30 May – 13 June


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