🇫🇷🐌 Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction: 🇦🇺 Daria Gavrilova vs. 🇨🇦 Eugenie Bouchard
A fascinating second round match-up at Roland Garros on day 4 sees Daria Gavrilova come up against Eugenie Bouchard. This is a big opportunity for both players to return to the third round stage of a major for the first time in a while. Gavrilova hasn’t reached the third round stage of a major since Wimbledon 2018, whilst Bouchard hasn’t reached the third round stage of a major since the Australian Open in 2017. A winnable match for both, who will make the most of this opportunity to reach the round of 32 at Roland Garros?
Daria Gavrilova made an impressive return to the tour with a 6/4 6/3 victory over the 24th seeded Dayana Yastremska in the opening round. It was Gavrilova’s first tour level match since the US Open last year, her first victory at a major since the US Open in 2018. At her best, Gavrilova has always been a tricky opponent, especially on clay where her exceptional speed and movement make her a tough opponent to put away.
Eugenie Bouchard’s resurgence continues. Fresh from a strong run to the final in Istanbul, Bouchard made her way through to the second round in Paris with a 6/4 6/4 win over Anna Kalinskaya. Bouchard has been grinding away on the European clay since the tour restart with promising results, a quarter-final run in Prague came before she won 6 matches on route to the final of the Istanbul Open earlier this month.
Bouchard holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Gavrilova. However, the pair haven’t met in over 7 years, so their previous encounters are mostly irrelevant. It was Gavrilova who won their most recent match, a 7/6 7/6 victory at the Australian Open in 2013.
I’m going to side with Bouchard here, but Gavrilova is certainly capable. Bouchard has played a heap of matches on clay over the last few months with decent success. The Canadian is match-tough and has built up a nice base level of play. Gavrilova’s upset win over Yastremska in the first round was impressive, but she will face a very different challenge here, Bouchard won’t give away as many gifts. Gavrilova is very early in her comeback to the tour and is still finding her feet. The heavier hitting of Bouchard, greater aggression and match-toughness should give the Canadian the edge here.
Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Dara Gavrilova in 3 sets
🇫🇷🐌 Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction: 🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇷🇴 Irina-Camelia Begu
Simona Halep continues her quest for a second Roland Garros title on Day 4 when she faces a familiar foe in the second round. The top seeded Halep faces countrywoman Irina-Camelia Begu, an opponent she holds a dominant 7-0 head-to-head record against. Halep is superb form at the moment and is a big favourite to continue her winnings ways in this match-up.
Halep made a strong start to her 2020 Roland Garros campaign when she cruised past Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4 6-0. Halep faced an early deficit in her match with the Spaniard when she trailed 2-4 in the opening set but really stepped it up as she won 10 consecutive games to claim her 15th victory in a row. Halep is the form player on tour on clay and has the best record of any player at Roland Garros over the last 6 years, a runner-up in 2014 and 2017, the champion in 2018 and a quarter-finalist in 2019.
Begu moved her way into the second round in Paris with a hard-fought 6/4 4/6 6/3 victory over Jill Teichmann. Roland Garros has been Begu’s most successful major by far, the Romanian has reached at least the third round stage at Roland Garros in 4 of the last 5 years but will need to produce a miracle performance is she is to reach the round of 32 in 2020.
Begu has only managed to take 1 set off Halep in their 7 previous meetings. The most recent meeting between the pair took place at the semi-final stage in Prague a few months ago, Halep won 7/6 6/3. It was in Madrid 2016 that Begu managed to take a set off Halep in a strange 6/3 0/6 6/1 win for Halep.
All signs point to an easy Halep victory here. Halep’s dominant record over Begu, coupled with her strong form and high level of confidence at a tournament she thrives at all spell big trouble for Begu. Halep is too solid in this match-up, Begu doesn’t have the weapons to consistently hurt Halep and she doesn’t have the consistency or stamina to outlast Halep from the baseline.
Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Irina-Camelia Begu in 2 sets
🇫🇷🐌 Roland Garros, R1 preview + prediction: 🇺🇸 Danielle Collins vs. 🇷🇴 (Q) Monica Niculescu
Expect a fiery encounter when Danielle Collins and Monica Niculescu go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the first round stage at Roland Garros. It is Collins who heads into this clash with a far greater ranking and more impressive overall results over the last few years, but it’s Niculescu who enters this clash with the better form on clay having come through the qualifying draw in Paris. A tough match to call.
Danielle Collins hasn’t had much success on clay over the last couple of years, certainly not the same success she has had on hard courts at the tour level. Collins arrives in Paris in poor form having not won a tour level main draw match since the Australian Open. The American hasn’t played any matches on clay since the tour restart. Collins was last in action in New York where she suffered opening round losses at the Western & Southern Open and at the US Open, beaten by Jill Teichmann and Anett Kontaveit.
Monica Niculescu navigated her way through the qualifying draw at Roland Garros with 3 victories over a couple of reasonably tough opponents. Niculescu defeated Chihiro Muramatsu in straight sets, before requiring 3 sets to get the better of Elitsa Kostova and Vera Zvonareva.
I’m going to side with Niculescu here. The Romanian has form on her side and is better adjusted to the tricky conditions in Paris, on a surface that she is more comfortable on than her opponent. Off a limited preparation I don’t think Collins will be able to consistently execute the game required to hit through a tricky opponent in difficult conditions. Collins hasn’t played a match since the US Open and will surely need some time to get adjusted, getting adjusted against one of the most unorthodox players on her least preferred surface will be a tough ask. Expect Niculescu to be too solid here.
Prediction: Monica Niculescu to defeat Danielle Collins in 3 sets
🇫🇷🐌 Roland Garros, R1 preview + prediction: 🇵🇷 Monica Puig vs. 🇮🇹 (Q) Sara Errani
Sara Errani will be searching for her first ever victory over Monica Puig when the pair clash at the opening round stage at Roland Garros. Puig has won all 4 of the previous meetings between the pair, but heads into this match in poor form. It is Errani who heads into this match as the favourite despite her miserable record against the Puerto Rican, thanks to her solid form during the qualification stages in Pairs and greater reliability on the red dirt.
Monica Puig has a dismal 2-10 win/loss record in 2020 (including exhibition matches). Puig arrives at Roland Garros short of match practise given that she hasn’t played any clay court matches since the tour restart. Puig was last in action in New York where she was beaten in the opening round of the qualifying stage at the Western & Southern Open by Katie Volynets, followed by an opening round loss to Margarita Gasparyan at the US Open. The good news for Puig is that Roland Garros has been her most successful Grand Slam, the 27-year-old reached the third round in Paris last year.
Sara Errani enters this opening round clash with form on her side after successfully navigating her way through the qualifying draw with 3 victories. The 33-year-old moved through the qualifying draw without dropping a set, claiming straight set wins over Ekaterine Gorgodze, Eva Guerrero Alvarez and Tereza Martincova. Roland Garros has been the Italian’s most successful major. The Italian reached the final in 2012 and progressed to at least the quarter-final stage 3 years in row after her run to the final.
Monica Puig holds a 4-0 head-to-head record over Errani, 3 of those victories were commanding straight set victories, including a 6-0 6-1 victory on green clay in Charleston last year.
I’m going to side with Errani here despite her horrible head-to-head record against Puig. Puig has not won a tour level match in 2020, she hasn’t won a tour level match on clay since Roland Garros last year. Errani is battled-hardened having won 3 matches in the qualifying draw at a tournament she has had great success at in the past. Puig’s powerful game has clearly caused Errani problems in the past, but it is unlikely Puig will be able to consistently hit through Errani on a slow clay court given her recent form and lack of confidence. Expect Errani to be too solid here.
Prediction: Sara Errani to defeat Monica Puig in 2 sets
🇫🇷🥖 Internationaux de Strasbourg – FINAL preview + prediction 🇺🇦 (2) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇰🇿 (5) Elena Rybakina
Elina Svitolina and Elena Rybakina will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet in Saturday’s championship match at the Internationaux de Strasbourg. Svitolina will be playing for her 15th WTA singles title, her second of 2020, whilst Rybakina will also be playing for her second title of the season and third overall.
It has been an important week for both Svitolina and Rybakina, both were in good form before the tour shutdown, but both had previously struggled to recapture that form prior to Strasbourg. Rybakina is yet to drop a set this week, storming into her fifth final of the season, whilst Svitolina has beaten 3 tricky opponents to reach her second final of the season.
It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out in the first meeting between the pair. I’m going to side with Svitolina here. Firstly, I believe the surface suits Svitolina in this match-up, Svitolina will have more time to handle the power of Rybakina and get herself into more extended rallies where she should have the edge. Svitolina has the greater stamina and mental strength under pressure. Secondly, I suspect Svitolina will handle the occasion better, Svitolina knows how to get the job done in finals, the same hasn’t been true of Rybakina who has lost 3 of 4 finals this year. Svitolina has also had the tougher draw and will benefit from playing and defeating Aryna Sabalenka in the previous round, a similar type of opponent to Rybakina. The world number 5 should be too solid.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Elena Rybakina in 2 sets
🇫🇷🥖 Internationaux de Strasbourg – SF #1 preview + prediction 🇰🇿 (5) Elena Rybakina vs. 🇯🇵 Nao Hibino
Elena Rybakina will be aiming to reach her 5th final of the season when she comes up against Nao Hibino in Friday’s first semi-final at the Internationaux de Strasbourg. Conversely Hibino will be aiming to reach her first final of the year, her first final since Hiroshima late last year and her first ever tour level final on a clay court. Rybakina comes into this match as a strong favourite, but Hibino has defied the odds all week, can she do it again?
Elena Rybakina has stormed into the final 4 in Strasbourg without dropping a set. The 5th seed has claimed straight set wins over Greet Minnen, Alize Cornet and Shuai Zhang. Rybakina has won all 4 of her previous semi-finals in 2020, can she make it 5 from 5?
Nao Hibino is having her greatest week on clay court. The Japanese player stared the week with an upset 3 set victory over the 8th seeded Sloane Stephens before claiming a pair of straight set wins over Zarina Diyas and Jelena Ostapenko.
The only previous meeting between the pair tool place at the final qualifying stage of Roland Garros last year, Rybakina won that match 7-5 7-5. Rybakina has improved dramatically since then, now an established top 20 player and still on the rise.
I suspect this will be a closer match than expected. Rybakina should win, but Hibino won’t be a pushover. Rybakina has the stronger game, especially behind her serve, but Hibino can match Rybakina from the baseline where she has looked very strong all week, if the Japanese player can get into enough neutral rallies, she has a decent chance in matchup where there is nothing to lose, I’ll go for the upset.
Prediction: Nao Hibino to defeat Elena Rybakina in 3 sets
🇫🇷🥖 Internationaux de Strasbourg – QF preview + prediction 🇧🇾 (4) Aryna Sabalenka vs. 🇨🇿 Katerina Siniakova
The fourth and final quarter-final from the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Thursday sees the fourth seeded Aryna Sabalenka come up against Katerina Siniakova. This will be the first career meeting between Sabalenka and Siniakova, it will be interesting to see how the match-up evolves given the contrast in styles.
Sabalenka and Siniakova have both claimed back-to-back victories for the first time since the tour restart on route to the final 8 in Strasbourg. Sabalenka has had a favourable draw, hasn’t been too convincing but has got the job done. The Belarusian defeated Ellen Perez 6-4 6-3 in the opening round before defeating Anna Blinkova 1-6 6-4 6-2. Siniakova fought from behind in her opening round match as she defeated Bernarda Pera 4-6 7-6 6-1 before producing a solid performance to beat the seventh seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-4.
I’m going to go for the upset here. I think Siniakova has what it takes to bring down a rusty Sabalenka on a clay court. Siniakova has better results on clay over the last year and half, including a run to the fourth round at Roland Garros last year where she beat the world number 1 Naomi Osaka. Siniakova can make life tough for big hitters on this surface. Sabalenka’s level hasn’t been great over her first few matches, or in general since the tour restart. Siniakova has been able to claim a few good victories, the Czech players versatile game could see her through this one.
Prediction: Katerina Siniakova to defeat Aryna Sabalenka in 3 sets
🇫🇷🥖 Internationaux de Strasbourg – QF preview + prediction 🇯🇵 Nao Hibino vs. 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko
An unlikely quarter-final matchup kick-starts proceedings in Strasbourg on Thursday when Nao Hibino comes up against 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko. It is Ostapenko who heads into this clash as a strong favourite, the Latvian has a far greater record at this level of competition and defeated Hibino in straight sets in both of their previous matches.
Nao Hibino is having one of her best tournaments on a clay court. Hibino started the week with a 6-2 3-6 6-1 victory over the 8th seeded Sloane Stephens. The 25-year-old backed up her victory over the former US Open champion with a solid 7-5 6-3 win over Zarina Diyas. A much needed couple of wins for Hibino who hadn’t won back-to-back matches since Hua Hin in February.
Jelena Ostapenko has displayed glimpses of her damaging best on route to the final 8 in Strasbourg. The 23-year-old started the tournament with a 6-2 6-3 win over Lauren Davis before advancing past the third seeded Kiki Bertens via a retirement when she led 2-6 6-4 4-2. Ostapenko looked down and out in that match but to her credit she raised her level when it mattered, and her opponent collapsed.
Ostapenko holds a 2-0 record over Hibino. Ostapenko claimed a 6-4 6-4 victory in Dubai in 2016, followed by a 6-2 6-2 win in Seoul, Ostapenko was in far greater form when they last met, expect this match to be a closer one.
Ostapenko deserves to be the favourite here, but not such a strong favourite. Hibino doesn’t have a good record on clay but has played a couple of good matches this week. Ostapenko is a Roland Garros champion but has a poor recent record on clay. Ostapenko’s best is too good for Hibino, especially on a clay court where she can utilize her superior firepower. However, Hibino is playing solid tennis at the moment, if Ostapenko is off her game, Hibino can make this very close. I’m not convinced by Ostapenko’s level right now, so I expect this to be a close one, I’ll give the Latvian the benefit of the doubt.
Prediction: Jelena Ostapenko to defeat Nao Hibino in 3 sets
🇫🇷🥖 Internationaux de Strasbourg – QF preview + prediction 🇰🇿 (5) Elena Rybakina vs. 🇨🇳 (Q) Shuai Zhang
Elena Rybakina has been one of the most improved players on tour in 2020. The Kazakh continues her Strasbourg campaign on Thursday with a quarter-final clash against Chinese qualifier Shuai Zhang.
The 5th seeded Elena Rybakina is yet to drop a set this week. Rybakina started the week with a 7-5 6-4 win over Greet Minnen before battling past former champion Alize Cornet 6-3 7-6. Rybakina has a 26/7 win/loss record in 2020 but is still yet to consistently find here stunning early season form this the tour restart.
Shuai Zhang arrived in Strasbourg on a 5-match losing streak. Zhang snapped her losing run in the qualifying round where she defeated Storm Sanders 7-6 3-6 6-0. Zhang moved through the first round of the main draw with a hard-fought 3-6 6-4 6-2 win over Ajla Tomljanovic before beating local wild card Clara Burel 6-3 7-6.
Rybakina defeated Zhang 7-6 6-3 in the Hobart International final earlier this year in what was their only previous meeting.
Rybakina enters this match as a big favourite but this should be closer than expected. Rybakina looked shaky in the previous round against Cornet where she really struggled to close out the match. Zhang is a solid opponent and has the type of game to make life difficult for the big hitting Rybakina. I’ll give Rybakina the benefit of the doubt, she has the extra firepower and the far greater results this year.
Prediction: Elena Rybakina to defeat Shuai Zhang in 3 sets
🇫🇷🥖 Internationaux de Strasbourg – QF preview + prediction 🇺🇦 (2) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇨🇭 Jill Teichmann
The second seeded Elina Svitolina continues her Strasbourg campaign on Thursday with a quarter-final clash against Switzerland’s Jill Teichmann. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, on paper it is Svitolina who is a big favourite, but Teichmann is in good form and is especially tough to beat on a clay court.
Elina Svitolina is starting to gain some much needed momentum with Roland Garros just around the corner. Svitolina won a couple of tough straight set matches in Rome last week over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova and started her Strasbourg campaign with a similarly tough 7-6 7-5 win over Magda Linette after receiving a bye through the opening round. Clay has historically been Svitolina’s favourite surface; her exceptional movement makes her a problematic match-up for anyone on the red dirt.
Jill Teichmann has beaten a pair of tough opponents to reach the final 8 in Strasbourg. The 23-year-old started the week with a 6-2 6-3 win over the 6th seeded Amanda Anisimova. Teichmann secured her spot in the quarter-finals with a hard-fought 7-6 7-5 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova where she fought from behind in each set.
I’m going to side with the world number 5 here, it feels like Svitolina is heading in the right direction and should be too solid for Teichmann. Svitolina has won several tight sets over her last few matches, a great sign for her that she is playing well in the big moments. Teichmann had some great results on clay in 2019, winning titles in Prague and Palermo, but she also had some terrible results in between. Svitolina’s base level is higher, she will generally win in this match-up and is playing well enough to suggest this will be one of those occasions.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Jill Teichmann in 2 sets