Aryna Sabalenka vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇧🇾 (11) Aryna Sabalenka vs. 🇸🇰 Dominika Cibulkova

A blockbuster opening round match-up at Roland Garros sees the 11th seeded Aryna Sabalenka comes up against the always-dangerous Dominika Cibulkova. This is arguably the toughest opening round match-up in the draw, a match-up that one could expect to see in the second week of a Grand Slam rather than the opening round. Sabalenka and Cibulkova are both fierce competitors and will relish the early challenge, who will prevail?

Aryna Sabalenka arrives in Paris on the back of a solid run to the semi-finals in Strasbourg last week. Sabalenka entered Strasbourg in desperate need of wins given she had lost back-to-back opening round matches in Madrid and Rome. Sabalenka claimed a couple of commanding wins in Strasbourg before succumbing to Dayana Yastremska in straight sets. Whilst Sabalenka enters Roland Garros as the number 11 seed, she is very inexperienced at the event, she has never won a main draw match in Paris and this will be just her second main draw appearance at Roland Garros.

Conversely, Dominika Cibulkova is very experienced in Paris. Cibulkova made it to the semi-finals in Paris all the way back in 2009 and has won 21 matches at the tournament over the years. Cibulkova’s form in 2019 has not been great but she often finds a way to raise her level for the majors. Cibulkova has reached the final 8 at a Grand Slam on 8 occasions and has frequently claimed upset wins early in majors. Will Sabalenka be her next victim?

It was Sabalenka who won the only previous match between the pair, a 7-5 6-3 win at the quarter-final stage in Wuhan last year.

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Sloane Stephens vs. Misaki Doi, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇺🇸 (7) Sloane Stephens vs. 🇯🇵 Misaki Doi

2018 runner-up Sloane Stephens starts her 2019 Roland Garros campaign against Japan’s Misaki Doi. Stephens arrives in Paris in mediocre form but that is frequently the case for Sloane heading into a major, she certainly has the ability to flick the switch and play her best when it matters, plus Paris has been her most consistent major over the years. Stephens looms as one of the main contenders.

Sloane Stephens of the United States during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Stephens did receive a confidence boost in a semi-final showing at the Mutua Madrid Open earlier this month. Stephens beat a couple of quality opponents on route to the final 4 before succumbing to the eventual champion Kiki Bertens in straight sets. Most recently Stephens suffered an opening round loss to Johanna Konta in Rome. Stephens has won more matches in Paris than any other Grand Slam, a runner-up last year, the goal for Stephens will be to go one step further in 2019.

Misaki Doi’s record in Paris is not so good. Doi has only ever won the 1 main draw match at Roland Garros from 6 appearances. The odds are stacked against Doi who brings poor from into the event. Doi has not won a match on clay this year and arrives in Paris fresh from an opening round loss in Nuremburg last week at the hands of Tamara Zidansek. Winning is something Doi has really struggled to do over the last few years.

This will be the first career meeting between Stephens and Doi, will the result be as one-sided as the odds suggest?

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Anett Kontaveit vs. Karolina Muchova, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇪🇪 (17) Anett Kontaveit vs. 🇨🇿 Karolina Muchova

One of the more intriguing opening round match-ups at Roland Garros sees the 17th seeded Anett Kontaveit take on the in form Karolina Muchova. Kontaveit and Muchova both showed what they are capable of on the clay prior to arriving in Paris. Kontaveit made the final in Stuttgart whilst Muchova made the final in Prague, this is a tough opening round match-up for both.

Anett Kontaveit of Estonia during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Kontaveit enters Roland Garros as the 17th seed, the highest she has been seeded at a Grand Slam, with that comes greater expectations. Kontaveit has slowly but consistently moved up the rankings over the last few years but is yet to have a huge breakthrough at a major, a couple of fourth round showings being her best result thus far at the Grand Slam level, including Paris last year. Kontaveit’s form since making the final in Stuttgart has been poor and she arrives in Paris on the back of a disappointing straight set loss to Maria Sakkari In the second round in Rome.

Karolina Muchova played just the one tournament on clay before Roland Garros, Muchova produced her greatest result on a the main tour as she reached her first WTA level final in Prague. Unfortunately for Muchova she did lose in the final to Jill Teichmann in 3 sets, a match she would have expected to win. Muchova has not played since the Prague final, so it will be interesting to see what level she can produce in her first match in about a month.

This will be the first carer meeting between Kontaveit and Muchova, two players who have steadily risen up the rankings in recent times, who will prevail?

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Kiki Bertens vs. Pauline Parmentier, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇳🇱 (4) Kiki Bertens vs. 🇫🇷 Pauline Parmentier

Kiki Bertens is one of the in form players heading into Roland Garros 2019, the newly crowned member of the top 5 begins her Paris campaign against Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier. Bertens won the biggest tile of her career in Madrid a few weeks ago and is arguably the second favourite behind Simona Halep heading into this event, the expectations have never been higher for Bertens heading into a major.

Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Kiki Bertens has proven herself in Paris before, a former semi-finalist, Bertens will be hoping to go one step further in 2019 to reach her first Grand Slam final. Bertens is the form player on tour on the red dirt, Bertens reached the semi-finals in Stuttgart, won Madrid and reached the semi-finals in Rome all in the last month and a bit. Clay has always been the Dutchwoman’s best surface, she is extremely tough to break down due to her very complete game on the surface.

Pauline Parmentier also enjoys a relatively good record in Paris. Parmentier’s home slam has always been her most successful and she has enjoyed some rare success at this level in recent years with a couple of third round appearances. However, Parmentier’s recent form is not flash, she has lost 5 of her 6 matches in the lead-up to Paris on clay. The good news for Parmentier is her strong record against Bertens.

Parmentier has surprisingly won all 3 of the previous matches between the pair. The most recent match between the two took place in Monterrey back in 2016, Parmentier won that match in 3 sets. Bertens has made gigantic improvements since their last match and this will be their first career meeting on clay.

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Elina Svitolina vs. Venus Williams, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇺🇦 (9) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇺🇸 Venus Williams

The pick of the opening round match-ups in Paris sees the 9th seeded Elina Svitolina take on Venus Williams. Svitolina is still desperately searching for a maiden Grand Slam title whilst Williams is the most experienced player on tour and can never be underestimated. Can Williams produce another vintage performance to eliminate the 9th seed?

Venus Williams of the United States practices ahead of the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Elina Svitolina arrives in Paris on the back of her worst clay court lead-up ever. Svitolina has not won a match on clay in 2019 having suffered opening round losses in Madrid and Rome. Svitolina was beaten by Pauline Parmentier in Madrid and beaten by Victoria Azarenka in Rome where she was the two-time defending champion. Perhaps Svitolina’s poor form will be a blessing in disguise, she is fresh and has less expectations from the critics given her recent struggles on court.

Roland Garros has always been the most troublesome major for Venus Williams but she has been competitive on the surface in recent times. Venus reached the second week in Paris in 2016 and 2017 and is always a threat, no matter the circumstances. Venus played just the one clay court event prior to Paris where she reached the third round in Rome, Venus claimed an epic 3 set win over Elise Mertens in the first round in Rome, in a match that proved Venus is still capable on the red dirt, even in a lengthy battle.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. The most recent match between the pair took place n Cincinnati in 2017, Svitolina claimed a comfortable 6-2 6-1 win on that occasion, Interestingly, it was Venus who won their only previous match on a clay court, a 6-4 6-3 win in Rome in 2015.

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Garbine Muguruza vs. Taylor Townsend, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇪🇸 (19) Garbine Muguruza vs. 🇺🇸 Taylor Townsend

Garbine Muguruza kick-starts her 2019 Roland Garros campaign with an opening round clash against America’s Taylor Townsend. The pressure is on the 2016 Roland Garros champion who is defending semi-finalist points from last year, an early round exit in Paris for Muguruza will see her already depleted ranking drop even further, down to a low she has not experienced in a long time by the former world number 1.

Garbine Muguruza of Spain during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Garbine Muguruza’s preparation for the second Grand Slam of the year has been less than ideal. Muguruza suffered an opening round exit in Madrid where she was upset by Petra Martic in straight sets before she was forced to retire injured in her third round match with Victoria Azarenka in Rome due to a left thigh injury. Nevertheless, Roland Garros has been Muguruza’s most successful tournament in her career and she usually seems to find a good level here no matter what the circumstances are in the lead up to the tournament.

Taylor Townsend has been languishing at the ITF level over the last little while where her results have been less than impressive. The good news for Townsend is that she has progressed past the opening round in Paris in the last 3 years, something she has never achieved at any other major. Townsend’s heavy, versatile game can make her a dangerous opponent on this surface.

This will be the first career meeting between Muguruza and Townsend, will the American’s awkward game cause the former champion any troubles?

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Simona Halep vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇷🇴 (3) Simona Halep vs. 🇦🇺 Ajla Tomljanovic

Simona Halep begins her title defense in Paris with a tricky opening round match-up against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic. Halep finally broke through to claim her first major title in Paris 12 months ago in what was her fourth Grand Slam final. It will be interesting to see how Halep handles herself as the defending champion at a major for the first time, a task others have found difficult in recent times.

Simona Halep of Romania during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Simona Halep enters the second Grand Slam of the year as the outright favourite but there are several questions marks surrounding the Romanian’s campaign. Halep has been the most consistent performer in Paris over the last few years, Halep has reached the final in 3 of the last 5 years at Roland Garros, clearly this is her most successful major tournament. However, Halep does arrive in Paris on the back of a surprise opening round loss to Marketa Vondrousova in Rome where she received treatment on court. Furthermore, we will have to wait and see how Halep deals with the pressure of being the defending champion, a feeling she has not experienced at a Grand Slam.

Ajla Tomljanovic has performed well enough in 2019, consistently playing good tennis but is in need of a big breakthrough run at a major. Tomljanovic arrives in Paris fresh from a second round exit in Nuremburg where she was upset by Tamara Zidansek in straight sets. Tomljanovic has competed in a lot tournaments during the clay swing, her best result was a semi-final showing in Rabat. Unlike Halep, Tomljanovic is very much match-hardened for this first round clash.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place in Cincinnati last year, Halep won that match 4-6 6-3 6-3. Halep can expect another tough battle here, Tomljanovic is unlikely to be a pushover and will even fancy her chances of a claiming a big upset win, can the Aussie pull off an early surprise?

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Jelena Ostapenko vs. Victoria Azarenka, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

One of the most intriguing opening round matches at Roland Garros in 2019 sees two former Grand Slam champions collide when Jelena Ostapenko takes on Victoria Azarenka. Ostapenko and Azarenka were arguably the two most dangerous unseeded players in the draw so both can consider themselves unlucky with this draw, to make matters more complicated, the winner of this match is highly likely to face the top ranked Naomi Osaka in the next round.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Jelena Ostapenko is continuing to slip down the WTA standings. Ostapenko has been consistently inconsistent over the last 18 months and is a shadow of the player that shocked the tennis world two years ago to win the Roland Garros title as a teenager. Ostapenko has lost 10 of he last 14 matches and is simply playing without any confidence in recent times, perhaps a return to the scene of her greatest achievement will help spark a form reversal?

Conversely, Victoria Azarenka is steadily climbing back up the rankings and brings good form into Roland Garros after a strong run in Rome a few weeks ago. Azarenka battled her way through to the quarter-finals in Rome where she claimed an impressive 3 set win over the 2-time defending champion Elina Svitolina in the second round, a win that proves Azarenka can still beat the best, a seemingly important moment in Azarenka’s journey back o the top.

This will surprisingly be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Azarenka. Expect fireworks between two feisty competitors that know what it takes to win big matches. Who will prevail?

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Naomi Osaka vs. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇯🇵 (1) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇸🇰 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

Naomi Osaka begins her Roland Garros campaign against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Osaka is undoubtedly the biggest star in the women’s game at the moment, Osaka has taken over the tour in the last year by winning the last two Grand Slam titles and holding onto the number 1 ranking for several months. Despite this, Osaka is not considered one of the favourites in Paris as she is yet to prove herself on clay.

Naomi Osaka of Japan during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka arrives in Paris on the back of some of her best ever results on clay, Osaka reached the quarter-final stage in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome where she played some quality matches on the red dirt. Osaka has never made it to the second week in Paris, her best previous result was a third round finish which she achieved in 2016 and 2018. The recent signs from Osaka suggest that her damaging weapons can be just as effective on clay as they are on a hard court.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova heads into one of the biggest matches of her life in poor form. Schmiedlova suffered an embarrassing opening round loss to Xinyun Han in Strasbourg last week where she managed to win just 2 games despite heading into the match as a heavy favourite. Schmiedlova has stumbled at the opening round stage in Paris in the last 3 years and will suffer the same fate here unless she produces a miracle performance.

This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Schmiedlova, a big mismatch on paper.

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Simona Halep vs. Sloane Stephens, Roland Garros Final Preview

🇫🇷 Roland Garros, 🏆 Final Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇺🇸 (10) Sloane Stephens

Take four! A fourth Grand Slam final for Simona Halep, a fourth chance to break her Grand Slam duck. The world number 1 will come up against reigning U.S Open champion Sloane Stephens in Saturday’s Roland Garros championship match. Whilst it is Halep who is the more established player it is Stephens who is the Grand Slam champion, will Stephen’s come from nowhere to win another Grand Slam title or will Halep finally capture that elusive maiden Grand Slam title?

Simona Halep of Romania.in action during the semi-final of the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Simona Halep is into a third Roland Garros final. Halep’s Paris campaign ended in misery this time last year when she was beaten by Jelena Ostapenko from a set and 3-0 up. 12 months later Halep has the chance to make amends and looks well positioned to do so after a superb 6-1 6-4 victory over Garbine Muguruza in Thursday’s semi-final. Halep’s win over the Spaniard was her best performance of the tournament, one of her best performances of the entire year. It has been a tough route to the final for Halep, the world number 1 started the event with a 3 set win over Alison Riske before claiming straight set wins over Taylor Townsend, Andrea Petkovic and Elise Mertens, at the quarter-final stage Halep came from a set down to defeat Angelique Kerber.

Sloane Stephens now has the opportunity to win a second Grand Slam title within the last 12 months, an incredible achievement given she was side-lined with a serious injury at this time last year. Stephens has looked rock-solid throughout the fortnight. The American’s only challenge came at the third round where she came from a set down to beat Camila Giorgi 8-6 in the third after she cruised through her first few matches over Arantxa Rus and Magdalena Frech. Stephens’ level has certainly increased during the second week as she claimed 3 dominant wins to reach the final in Paris, 6-2 6-0 over Anett Kontaveit, 6-3 6-1 over Daria Kasatkina and finally a 6-4 6-4 semi-final win over Madison Keys.

It is Halep who has had Sloane’s measure in recent times. Halep has won the last 4 matches between the pair and holds an overall 5-2 head-to-head record over the American. Interestingly all 7 of the previous matches between these two have ended in straight sets. The pair met on two occasions in 2017, a 7-6 6-0 win for Halep in Washington followed by a 6-2 6-1 demolition at the Rogers Cup in their most recent encounter.

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