Serena Williams vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, Roland Garros R2 Preview

??? Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction:
?? (6) Serena Williams vs. ?? Tsvetana Pironkova

Serena Williams and Tsvetana Pironkova will go head-to-head at the second major in a row as the pair clash at the second round stage at Roland Garros. Williams just edged past Pironkova in 3 sets at the quarter-final stage of the US Open earlier this month, can the Bulgarian avenge that loss in Paris?

Both Williams and Pironkova are playing for the first time since their respective deep runs at the US Open earlier this month. Pironkova shocked the tennis world by reaching the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows despite being away from the tour for over 2 years. Williams defeated Pironkova 4-6 6-3 6-2 in the final 8 before being eliminated in the semi-finals.

Serena Williams made a decent start to her 2020 Roland Garros campaign, the 3-time former champion claimed a 7-6 6-0 win over Kristie Ahn to advance to the second round. Meanwhile Pironkova claimed a decent 6-3 6-3 win over Andrea Petkovic, the Bulgarian’s best result in Paris was a run to the quarter-finals in 2016, a year that featured similarly cold and rainy conditions to this year’s event.

Williams holds a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record over Pironkova. 3 of the 5 matches between the pair went the distance, Pironkova certainly made Williams work hard during their quarter-final clash in New York.

This promises to be a close match. I am not convinced by Williams on clay at the moment, Roland Garros has been Serena’s least successful major in recent times, the heavy conditions will make life even more difficult for the 39-year-old. The problem for Williams is that her movement is the area of her game that has declined the most, that is an area that can be exploited on clay more than any other surface. Pironkova has the mix of power and versatility from the baseline to really challenge Williams in these conditions. Williams is undoubtedly rusty on this surface, Pironkova can take advantage. The Bulgarian will have learned from her mistakes in New York, with a couple of adjustments she has what it takes to get the win in troublesome conditions.

Prediction: Tsvetana Pironkova to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets

Elina Svitolina vs. Renata Zarazua, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? (3) Elina Svitolina vs. ?? (Q) Renata Zarazua

An in-form Elina Svitolina continues her 2020 Roland Garros campaign with a second round clash against Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua. Svitolina is one of the form players on tour at the moment having won the Strasbourg title just a day before Roland Garros commenced. Svitolina is one of the best players in the world yet to win a major, something the Ukrainian will be hoping to change over the next few weeks, she has the game to make it happen.

Elina Svitolina arrives in Paris fresh from claiming her 15th WTA singles title last week in Strasbourg. The 3rd seed only had a couple of days to recover before her Roland Garros opener, which turned out to be a tough match, a 7-6 6-4 victory over Varvara Gracheva. Svitolina has a decent record at Roland Garros having reached the quarter-final stage in Paris on 2 previous occasions.

Renata Zarazua became the first Mexican woman to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam in 20 years when she successfully made her way through the qualifying draw in Paris. Zarazua claimed 3 wins over decent opposition in the qualifying draw, beating Olga Danilovic, Viktorija Tomova and Daniela Seguel. Zarazua made the most of a favourable opening round draw by beating local wild card Elsa Jacquemot 6-1 6-2.

I don’t see many problems for Svitolina in this match-up. Zarazua doesn’t possess any big weapons, that is a problem against Svitolina, especially on a heavy clay court. Svitolina thrives in these match-ups against fellow counter-punchers or defensive players, expect the Ukrainian to be far too solid for the Mexican. It has been a great run for Zarazua, but this is where her run comes to an end.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Renata Zarazua in 2 sets

Kiki Bertens vs. Sara Errani, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? (5) Kiki Bertens vs. ?? (Q) Sara Errani

An interesting second round match-up from Roland Garros sees the 5th seeded Kiki Bertens come up against a resurgent Sara Errani. Bertens has struggled in recent times to find the form that has seen her be one of the best performers on clay over the last few years, the world number 8 will need to raise her level for this match against an opponent that is on a roll.

Kiki Bertens arrived in Paris under an injury cloud after retiring from her opening round match in Strasbourg last week. The signs weren’t good for Bertens in her Roland Garros opener, but she managed to overcome a slow start to get the better of Katarina Zavatska 2-6 6-2 6-0, her first win since the tour restart. Bertens achieved her greatest result at a major in 2016 when she reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros.

Sara Errani confirmed a second round showdown with the 5th seeded Bertens thanks to a dominant 6-2 6-1 victory over Monica Puig, the Italian’s first main daw victory at a Grand Slam since Roland Garros 2017. The 2012 Roland Garros runner-up is yet to drop a set all tournament having also won 3 straight set matches over Ekaterine Gorgodze, Eva Guerrero Alvarez and Tereza Martincova to secure her passage through the qualifying draw.

Errani holds a 5-0 head-to-head record over Bertens, 2 of those victories came via retirement. The most recent match between the pair took place at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Errani won 4-6 6-4 6-3. Much has changed since their last meeting, Bertens is now one of the top players in the world and will be a strong favourite to claim her first victory over the Italian when they meet in Paris.

I’m going to give Bertens the benefit of the doubt here. Bertens hasn’t been convincing at all over the last few weeks but she should be able to find a level high enough to get the better of Errani. With a win finally under her belt, I expect Bertens to improve. Bertens should be too strong, Errani hasn’t defeated a player of the Dutchwoman’s calibre in a very long time. Errani’s dodgy serve is still her major weakness, a weakness Bertens should be smart enough to exploit. Bertens has the controlled aggression to outplay Errani from the baseline.

Prediction: Kiki Bertens to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets

Petra Kvitova vs. Jasmine Paolini, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? (7) Petra Kvitova vs. ?? Jasmine Paolini

Petra Kvitova continues her 2020 Roland Garros campaign with a second round clash with Italy’s Jasmine Paolini. Kvitova made a promising start to the tournament and enters this clash as a strong favourite in what will be the first career meeting between the pair.

Kvitova produced a strong serving performance to defeat Oceane Dodin 6-3 7-5 in her opening round match in Paris. Kvitova served 8 aces and won 86% of first service points in her victory over Dodin. Roland Garros has been Kvitova’s least successful major, the 2-time Wimbledon champion hasn’t reached the second week in Paris since 2015 but has a decent chance to change that in 2020.

Paolini moved into the second round at Roland Garros with a 6-4 6-3 win over Aliona Bolsova, her first ever main draw win at a major. Paolini has been playing some decent tennis on the red dirt over the last few months, the Italian plays her best tennis on clay so it’s no surprise to see her first major win come in Paris.

I’m going to side with Kvitova here, but this has the potential to be closer than the odds suggest. Kvitova is the far better player, but clay is Kvitova’s least preferred surface and clay is Paolini’s best surface, this levels things up somewhat. Paolini should be able to get into enough extended rallies to make this close, but ultimately the far superior serving, stronger baseline game and greater experience of Kvitova should see her through.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Jasmine Paolini in 3 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs. Kristyna Pliskova, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? (11) Garbine Muguruza vs. ?? Kristyna Pliskova

Garbine Muguruza and Kristyna Pliskova will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the second round of the French Open. Muguruza looms as one of the main contenders in Paris, the 2016 Roland Garros champion has generally had an impressive season and is always especially tough to beat on the red dirt in Paris.

Garbine Muguruza has a superb record at Roland Garros. The 26-year-old has reached at least the fourth round stage in Paris in each of her last 6 appearances, a streak which includes her triumph in 2016, a semi-final showing in 2018 and further 2 quarter-final runs. Muguruza came through an extremely tough opening round match to begin her 2020 campaign, a hard-fought 7-5 4-6 8-6 victory over Tamara Zidansek. The Spaniard will be hoping for a more straightforward victory against the big serving Czech.

Kristyna Pliskova claimed her first ever main draw victory at Roland Garros when she thrashed Viktoria Kuzmova 6-1 6-2, a big win for Pliskova given she had previously stumbled at the opening round stage in Paris on 5 occasions. Clay isn’t Pliskova’s best surface, but she is always a threat if she serves at her best.

I expect Muguruza to win this match quite comfortably. This is a good match-up for Muguruza on a clay court, especially in the heavy conditions in Paris this year. Muguruza has the game to take care of her own serve in this match-up then put pressure on the Pliskova serve. The slow conditions mean Muguruza will be able to return a lot of serves compared to a quicker surface. Muguruza’s heavier shots mean she will be able to dictate from the baseline more often than not, this spells trouble for Pliskova who won’t be very effective in defensive positions.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Kristyna Pliskova in 2 sets

Victoria Azarenka vs. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? (10) Victoria Azarenka vs. ?? Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

A red-hot Victoria Azarenka comes up against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova at the second round stage in Paris. Azarenka is one of the form players on tour at the moment, fresh from a runner-up appearance at the US Open the Belarusian has quickly found her footing on the red clay having reached the final 8 in Rome a few weeks ago. Azarenka enters this second round clash as a big favourite.

Azarenka made a strong start to her 2020 Roland Garros campaign when she easily defeated Danka Kovinic 6-1 6-2. Azarenka wasn’t pleased with the cold, rainy conditions, but her tennis certainly wasn’t thrown off by the conditions. Roland Garros has traditionally been Azarenka’s least successful major, unsurprisingly given clay has traditionally been Azarenka’s least successful surface, the 2-time major winner hasn’t reached the third round in Paris since 2015.

Schmiedlova broke a run of 4 consecutive opening round exits at Roland Garros thanks to a 6-4 6-4 victory over Venus Williams on day 1 of the 2020 tournament. Schmiedlova’s equal best run at a major took place in Paris back in 2014. Clay is Schmiedlova’s best surface but her mediocre results over the last few years haven’t reflected the talent she possesses.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair.

Azarenka is rightfully the big favourite heading into this match given her superb recent form. However, Schmiedlova has the game to make this closer than expected. Schmiedlova is one player that will enjoy the heavy conditions in Paris, conditions that could bring this match closer. Schmiedlova has a powerful return of serve and a handy drop shot, a few shots that are important against Azarenka, to punish the Belarusian’s weak second serve and to move her off the baseline. Schmiedlova has nothing to lose and a dangerous game. Nevertheless, Azarenka should prevail here, she is a class above and full of confidence at the moment.

Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in 3 sets

Elise Mertens vs. Kaia Kanepi, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? (16) Elise Mertens vs. ?? Kaia Kanepi

The 16th seeded Elise Mertens continues her 2020 Roland Garros campaign on Wednesday with a potentially dangerous second round clash with the powerful Kaia Kanepi. Mertens is in great form, fresh from a quarter-final showing in Rome, on the back of a quarter-final appearance at the US Open, the Belgian is full of confidence. However, it was Kanepi who won the only previous meeting between the pair and who has the weapons to hurt most opponents.

Mertens cruised through her opening round match in Paris, a solid 6-2 6-3 win over Margarita Gasparyan. Mertens has been one of the most consistent players on tour at Grand Slam events over the last few years, reaching at least the third round stage at the last 10 Grand Slam events, a streak which started with a semi-final run at the 2018 Australian Open. At Roland Garros Mertens has never lost prior to the third round in her 3 previous main draw appearances.

Kaia Kanepi hasn’t played much tennis in 2020, even less than most. Kanepi’s last 3 tournaments have been Grand Slams. The 35-year-old arrived in Paris short of match practise having not played since her second round exit at the US Open. That didn’t stop Kanepi from claiming a 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over Marie Bouzkova in her opening round match at Roland Garros.

It was Kaia Kanepi who emerged victorious in the only previous meeting between the pair, a 0-6 6-0 7-5 victory for the Estonian on the green clay of Charleston last year.

I will side with Mertens here. Mertens is a class above Kanepi and should be too solid for the Estonian. Mertens absorbs pace better than most, this should be a good match-up for Mertens on a clay court. Mertens moves well and is able to turn defence into attack and expose the poor movement of Kanepi. Mertens has been one of the most consistent players on tour over the last few months, whilst Kanepi has barely played any tennis, a solid performance from Mertens here will likely see her through.

Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Kaia Kanepi in 2 sets

Caroline Garcia vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? Caroline Garcia vs. ?? Aliaksandra Sasnovich

Caroline Garcia was one of the big winners on day 1 in Paris when she claimed an upset win over the 17th seeded Anett Kontaveit. Garcia will be back in action on day 4 when she comes up against Aliaksandra Sasnovich with a spot in the round of 32 up for grabs. Garcia has won 3 of the previous meetings between the pair and will enter this clash as the favourite.

Roland Garros has been Caroline Garcia’s most successful major, a quarter-finalist in 2017 (her best result at a major) and a fourth round appearance in 2018. Garcia was a big underdog heading into her opening round match but defied the odds to claim a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory over the 17th seeded Anett Kontaveit. Garcia has now illustrated her danger on the big stage a couple of times since the tour restart, she Frenchwoman eliminated the top seeded Karolina Pliskova at the US Open earlier this month, a danger to any opponent on any surface when she is on top of her game.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich moved into the second round in Paris courtesy of a 6-2 2-6 6-3 victory against Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam. Sasnovich will be hoping it’s third time lucky as she aims to reach the round of 32 for the first time in her third appearance in the second round. Clay has traditionally been Sasnovich’s least successful surface, her flat game-style is better suited to a quick surface.

Garcia holds a 3-0 head-to-head record over Sasnovich. The last couple of meetings between the pair were close 3 set matches, both in 2018, 6-3 5-7 6-2 at the Australian Open, followed by a 6-7 6-2 6-4 victory in New Haven. All 3 of their previous meetings were on a hard court with Garcia also beating the Belarusian in straight sets in Tokyo in 2017.

I will side with Garcia here. Garcia looked strong in her opening round win over Kontaveit. This is a match Garcia should be winning. The Frenchwoman clearly has what it takes in this match-up having won all 3 of their previous meetings, her advantage should be amplified on clay. Garcia has all the weapons to play great on clay, whilst Sasnovich’s game is better suited to quick surfaces. Garcia’s superior firepower and greater versatility give her the clear edge here.

Prediction: Caroline Garcia to defeat Aliaksandra Sasnovich in 2 sets

Cori Gauff vs. Martina Trevisan, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? Cori Gauff vs. ?? (Q) Martina Trevisan

Cori Gauff will be back in action on Wednesday with a second round clash against Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan. Gauff claimed a big scalp in the opening round in Paris when she eliminated the 9th seeded Johanna Konta in the opening round, a straight set win for the 16-year-old over the Brit means she is the favourite heading into this clash.

Gauff and Trevisan are both making their Roland Garros main draw debut this week, this will also be the first career meeting between the pair, a big opportunity for both to reach the third round in Paris.

Gauff, a former junior champion at Roland Garros claimed one of the most notable opening round victories in the women’s draw. Gauff was too solid for an errant Johanna Konta, claiming a 6-3 6-3 victory. Despite serving 12 double faults Gauff was only broken on 2 occasions by Konta. Gauff’s baseline game got her the win. An improved serving performance will be required from the American who will be unlikely to get away with similarly poor serving very often.

At 26 years of age, Trevisan is through to the second round of a major for the first time. The Italian booked her spot in the second round when Camila Giorgi retired early in the second set of their first round clash, Trevisan held a commanding 7-5 3-0 lead before Giorgi’s retirement. Trevisan made her way through a tough qualifying draw in Paris where she claimed wins over Sachia Vickery, Asia Muhammad and Astra Sharma.

I’m going for the upset here and siding with the Italian qualifier. Gauff’s serve is a huge problem at the moment, surprisingly she wasn’t punished by Konta but Trevisan won’t make the same mistake. Trevisan is a solid clay court player, match-tough having already won 4 matches over the last week in Paris. This looks like a match-up where the inconsistency’s in the Gauff game can be exposed in a match-up where all the pressure is on the American, a situation the 16-year-old isn’t used to on this stage.

Prediction: Martina Trevisan to defeat Cori Gauff in 3 sets

Daria Gavrilova vs. Eugenie Bouchard, Roland Garros R2 Preview

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?? 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