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The top women's contenders at the French Open

September 25, 2020 23:06 IST
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Will Serena Williams triumph at the French Open and equal Australian Margaret Court's record 24 major titles?

Italian Open winner Simona Halep, Spain's Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka could all present a major challenge.

Romanian Halep has been in red-hot form and the absence of top-ranked Australian Ash Barty, who won her maiden Grand Slam in Paris last year, and US Open champion Naomi Osaka, will boost her chances further.

A look at the top women's contenders at the 2020 French Open (prefix denotes seeding):

1-Simona Halep (Romania)

Simona Halep

World ranking: 2

Born: September 27, 1991 (Age: 28)

Grand Slam titles: 2 (French Open 2018; Wimbledon 2019)

Best Roland Garros performance: Winner (2018)

WTA career titles: 22

Having won two claycourt titles in as many months at Prague and Rome, Halep, who skipped the hardcourt tournaments in the US, has momentum going into Roland Garros.

Halep has only dropped three sets in 10 matches since tennis resumed after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the diminutive counter-puncher looked fitter and more at ease than her opponents on clay in Rome.

With defending champion Ash Barty and US Open champion Naomi Osaka skipping the French Open, her path to a third Grand Slam title looks easier.

2-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)

Karolina Pliskova

World ranking: 4

Born: March 21, 1992 (Age: 28)

Grand Slam titles: 0

Best Roland Garros performance: Semi-final (2017)

WTA career titles: 16

Pliskova had a poor return to the tour on the hard courts in New York and getting knocked out of the US Open in the second round as the top seed would have stung the former world number one.

However, she turned things around on clay in Rome as she battled her way into the final before a niggling injury prevented her from defending her title and giving Halep a fair contest, retiring from a match for the first time in her career.

The Czech's greatest strengths are her serve, having won more than 81% of her service games this year, and her groundstrokes.

6-Serena Williams (US)

Serena Williams

World ranking: 9

Born: September 26, 1981 (Age: 38)

Grand Slam titles: 23 (Australian Open 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017; French Open 2002, 2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016; US Open 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)

WTA career titles: 73

Time is running out for Williams to clinch a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title and the former world number one arrives at her least favourite hunting ground without any practice on clay.

After her U.S. Open semi-final exit, the American withdrew from last week's Italian Open citing an Achilles problem and it remains to be seen if that will hamper her at Roland Garros.

Williams last won a Grand Slam in 2017, losing her last four major finals in straight sets, and she has not won at Roland Garros since 2015.

10-Victoria Azarenka (Belarus)

Victoria Azarenka

World ranking: 14

Born: July 31, 1989 (Age: 31)

Grand Slam titles: 2 (Australian Open 2012, 2013)

WTA career titles: 21

Not many fancied Azarenka to be the player to beat after the Tour restarted but the Belarusian has already reached two finals in New York before making a quarter-final run in Rome just days later.

Having used meditation techniques to channel her energy, Azarenka has seemingly put her injuries and a custody battle over her son Leo behind her to return to striking the ball with vengeance.

She reminded opponents how dominant she can be when she double bagelled Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in Rome with a flawless display.

With only three losses since the season resumed, she will count on her consistency to mount a title challenge.

11-Garbine Muguruza (Spain)

Garbine Muguruza

World ranking: 15

Born: Oct. 8, 1993 (Age: 26)

Grand Slam titles: 2 (French Open 2016; Wimbledon 2017)

WTA career titles: 7

Muguruza returns to the venue of her maiden Grand Slam win after an impressive semi-final run in Rome where she showed her game is best suited to clay.

With an explosive serve that has allowed her to fire 145 aces this year, the imposing six-footer is not easy to break and she has also improved her game at the net.

However, she is prone to errors with her high-risk, high-reward style of play and can let the match slip out of her grasp when things do not go her way.

Photographs: Getty Images

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IPL 2020

IPL 2020