This year’s women’s singles draw at Roland Garros should be a wide open one, with any one of a number of players standing a good chance of victory.
With the likes of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarenka all stuck on the sidelines for differing reasons, we take a look at the best bets for the title among the remaining bunch.
Romanian World No 4 Simona Halep has emerged as the favourite with the bookies after enjoying an impressive run-in to the tournament.
Halep enjoyed a highly productive clay court season after successfully defending her Madrid Open title and making it all the way to the semi-finals in Stuttgart and the final in Rome a week ago.
But the picture isn’t entirely rosy for the 25-year-old. Halep revealed she sustained an ankle injury during the recent Italian Open final against Elina Svitolina, leaving her in danger of missing Roland Garros altogether.
Even if she does turn up, she could still be playing under somewhat of an injury cloud if she isn’t able to return to 100% fitness.
A former finalist, Halep knows how to go all the way at Roland Garros, but now finds herself in a race against time.
Many players have announced themselves on the world stage at Roland Garros, and this year’s championship could just be Elina Svitolina’s chance to shine.
The young Ukranian is one of the most promising players on the WTA Tour, and appears on the verge of taking the next major step in her career. Svitolina reached the quarter-finals in Paris two years ago, but she is far more experienced player now.
The 22-year-old is coming off a victory over Simona Halep at the Italian Open – her second Premier 5 title – after also winning in Istanbul a month ago. It’s a run of success that has seen her rise to a career-high sixth in the world.
With Halep seemingly not fully fit, Svitolina might just be the real Roland Garros favourite.
Like Svitolina, 24-year-old Kristina Mladenovic is a player who looks to be on the verge of bigger things.
The 2017 season has been her most successful one to date, after she won her maiden WTA Tour singles title in St. Petersburg, followed by a finals run in Mexico and a semi-final appearance at Indian Wells.
Her recent clay court performances have been every bit as impressive, earning her appearances in the finals in Stuttgart and Madrid.
Mladenovic has never gotten further than the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam but she certainly has the potential to do much better than that, and her current form puts her right in the reckoning at Roland Garros next week.
This year’s defending champion Garbine Muguruza was on top of the world after her incredible victory over Serena Williams in the 2016 final.
Everyone expected the Spaniard to kick on and become the next big thing in tennis, but it hasn’t quite turned out that way. She has struggled at times to reproduce her impressive results from last year, although she remains a dangerous proposition – particularly on clay.
Since the start of the clay-court season, Muguruza has looked far more dangerous and appears to be finding some form at just the right time ahead of her title defence.
World No 1 Angelique Kerber will be desperate to put her struggles behind her as she eyes a strong showing at Roland Garros this year.
The German enjoyed a dream season last year with Grand Slam wins at the Australian and US Opens, but has found results much harder to come by this year.
She did make it to the final in Monterrey at the start of April before losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but that remains her best performance of the season.
Her clay court results in particular have been nothing to write home about, while Kerber openly admits that it’s not her favourite surface.
It would take something special to turn her clay-court fortunes – and her form – around in Paris, but Kerber has certainly proven she’s the kind of player who can rise to the big occasion.
Karolina Pliskova is another serious prospect for the title after displaying her clay court credentials with a semi-final run in Madrid, which followed a last four appearance at Indian Wells earlier in the year.
Last season was a breakthrough one for Pliskova, who reached her first Grand Slam final at Flushing Meadows and produced a series of consistent results that saw her become one of the top five players in the world.
Currently ranked third, Pliskova will need to produce her best tennis on one of her least favourite surfaces, but just like the rest of her rivals, she will be eyeing this year’s wide open draw with a genuine sense of belief that she could go all the way.
Already a finalist at Indian Wells this year, Svetlana Kuznetsova also made a semi-final appearance at the recent Madrid Open, a performance which proves she can still be a force on clay.
While the Russian can’t boast the kind of form some of her more favoured rivals can, she certainly doesn’t lack the fighting spirit or talent required to go all the way in Paris – as she proved when she won the title back in 2009.
Returning to those heights eight years later might be a bit of a stretch, but this year’s draw makes it as good a time as any to do it.
More than five months after an intruder attacked and stabbed her in her home, Petra Kvitova is set to return to the fold.
The two-time Wimbledon champion is a surprise inclusion in the Roland Garros draw after only confirming her participation in a hastily-organised Paris press conference on Friday.
Kvitova has shown incredible strength and resolve to bounce back from her horrifying ordeal, while the physical wounds suffered to her playing hand have healed.
Could she possibly be a factor over the next two weeks? It seems unlikely she can return to the top of her game that quickly but you can’t rule a player this talented out.