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The stars gear up for Roland Garros

May 24, 2018 10:36 IST

It's French Open time!
The tennis world's only clay court Grand Slam tournament begins on Sunday and the best of the best will battle it out to emerge on top). looks at how some of our favourite athletes are prepping for the big one.


She may have won 23 Grand Slams, but former world number 1 Serena Williams will have a tough fight ahead of her at the French Open.
Currently ranked 453, Serena will not be seeded at the tournament, making her road to victory even tougher.
She could face defending champion Jelena Ostapenko or World No 1 Simona Halep in the opening round of her first Grand Slam event since she won the 2017 Australian Open when pregnant.
The 36-year-old made her comeback in March, six months after giving birth, had early defeats at Indian Wells and Miami as she struggled for form and pulled out of clay court events in Madrid and Rome.
Let's hope she powers through, as she eyes her fourth French Open trophy. Photograph: @cocodubreuil/FFT/@rolandgarros/Instagram

Will 'Baby Fed', as Grigor Dimitrov is known, continue to smile the way he is right now?
If his past performances at Roland Garros are any indication, then that smile won't last long; the Bulgarian, seeded No 4, has lost in the first round in Paris four times in 7 appearances and his record there is his worst of all the Grand Slams.
In 2017, Dimitrov matched his best showing at the French Open by reaching the third round before losing to eventual quarter-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta.
We hope he can do better than before and continue to wow us with his fabulous one-handed backhand. Photograph: Philippe Montigny/FFT/@rolandgarros/Instagram


Two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova is already putting herself through the paces before she faces off her first round opponent.
Sharapova, now in the top 30, has a point to prove.
It was here last year that Roland Garros chiefs took to the moral high ground and told the Russian icon that she was not welcome, her recently concluded 15-month doping ban considered too raw to allow her the convenience of a wildcard into the clay court showpiece.
Reunited with former coach Thomas Hogstedt, she has come into her form with only losing to Simona Halep in the semis at the Rome Open, that too in a nail-biting three setter.
Fans will be delighted to see Sharapova back on Court Philippe Chatrier and we, too, will be keeping an eye on her. Photograph: @rolandgarros/Twitter


Will the World Number 1 and former finalist at the French Open lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup this year?
We really hope this is Simona Halep's chance.
Halep's game is there, but many sports pundits believe the mental barrier has been overwhelming so far, with her suffering losses in three major finals.
Let's see how far the Romanian goes. But for now, all we know is that where Simona goes, there goes the sunshine! Photograph: @rolandgarros/Twitter


David Goffin, currently ranked 9th in the world, is coming in on a high -- he won 9 of his 13 clay-court matches.
The 5 foot 11 inches Bulgarian, towered over by his opponents, first burst to prominence in 2012 when, as the world's 109 ranked player, he surged into the fourth round at Roland Garros and pushed Roger Federer in a compelling four-set loss. Photograph: @rolandgarros/Twitter


The reigning Wimbledon champion and former French Open winner, Garbine Muguruza is coming onto the red clay being considered as one of the main contenders.
The world No 3 will try to forget her last outing year when as defending champion, she lost to local favourite Kristina Mladenovic in front of a raucous, partisan, crowd and broke down in tears afterwards at her news conference.
Muguruza burst on the scene in 2015 when she reached the Wimbledon final and lost to Serena Williams.
She avenged that defeat a year later in the French Open final and then beat Venus Williams to win Wimbledon last year.
She rose to world No 1 in September.
This season she claimed the Monterrey title in April, but her form on clay has been inconsistent, losing to 21-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina at the Madrid Open before suffering a surprise defeat by Australian Daria Gavrilova in Rome. Photograph: @rolandgarros/Twitter


Denis Shapovalov is only 19 years old.
His thin frame is nothing like his game, which is powerful and as explosive as they come.
He is capable of hitting booming shots with either his forehand or his beautiful one-handed backhand.
He also has a non-stop motor, which helps him track down balls that most players on tour can't.
Some commentators say he plays like Rafael Nadal, but we will wait and see if this teen can pull off some big victories at the French Open. Photograph: @rolandgarros/Twitter


Former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka, who missed a large part of last season due to a custody battle over her son, will be at the French Open trying to regain some of her past glory. Let's hope the red clay brings her some success. Photograph: @rolandgarros/Twitter


Marin Cilic is coming into Roland Garros after losing to the eventual finalist at the Rome Open -- Alexander Zverev.
The newly wed (he married his longtime girlfriend Kristina Milkovic in April) hopes to go far in the French Open, a tournament which hasn't always been his friend.
In 2017, he lost in the quarters to Stanislas Wawrinka at the French Open and earlier this year lost to Roger Federer in a tight five setter at the Australian Open.
Ahead of the commencement of the clay season, Cilic was quoted as saying, 'I'm feeling really good, a bit different than all the other years. Seeded No 2, straight away it sets up a different look at the tournament, different expectations as well and now I'm in a position where I am feeling, coming into any tournament, that I can go deep.' Photograph: @rolandgarros/Twitter


Making a record 21th appearance at Roland Garros, Venus Williams is looking to finally get her hands on the French Open trophy.
Venus has played in the French Open more than any other woman, but has only gotten past the quarterfinals once -- when she lost the 2002 final to younger sister Serena.
Will number 21 be her lucky time? Photograph: @rolandgarros/Twitter
Rediff Sports