Roland-Garros, l'homme qui flirtait avec les nuages ☁☁ À l’occasion du centenaire de la disparition de l'aviateur la FFT a souhaité lui rendre hommage à #RG18. Une exposition ainsi qu’un livre, lui seront consacrés. pic.twitter.com/FMMRSGY1Xy— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) March 20, 2018
The French Open, as my Twitter followers and readers of this blog know, is my favorite major, so I'm always looking ahead to it. And as of right now, there are a number of women who--on paper--could win it, meaning--they have the skills to win it. They are, in no particular order:
Serena Williams--a ruler of all surfaces, Williams has been the least successful on clay, but bear in mind that her version of "least successful" is having won the French Open "only" three times. Under normal circumstances, I'd put Williams on the realistic "potential champion" list, but these are not normal circumstances. The great champion is just coming back after not only giving birth, but also having undergone another very serious medical crisis.
Maria Sharapova--She's won it twice, but Sharapova just isn't herself. She's currently dealing with a wrist injury, and even though (I hope) it may heal soon, she doesn't have any momemtum.
Angie Kerber--The German, like Williams, is adept on all surfaces. She's won both Charleston and Stuttgart, and appeared to be in line as a potential French Open champion until she had her massive 2017 slump. But she's back now, and I give her a better chance than most to reign on the clay of Roland Garros.
Simona Halep--Twice a French Open finalist, Halep seems built to prevail in Paris. Is 2018 her year? It should be, but the sensitive Romanian appears to have already lost some of her 2018 resolve to stay calm and cool in the midst of stressful circumstances. I still think her chances are very good, however, but she needs to check her tendencies to--as The Backspinner would say--fall off the Cliffs of Simona.
Alona Ostapenko--She's the defending champion, but she isn't having much success in the consistency department. Her 2017 Wimbledon run was quite impressive, considering how many new champions bomb out in the next major. But since then, Ostapenko has been quite streaky; right now, it's hard to imagine her defending her title.
Laura Siegemund--This may strike some as an odd choice, but Siegemund can beat anyone on clay, and is possibly the most exciting-to-watch clay competitor on the tour. She definintely has the skills to win a very big clay title. However, there are two obstacles. One is that she's just returning from a major injury layoff. The other is that the German player is such an extreme grinder, one wonders if she could ever survive seven straight matches without wilting from exhaustion.
Garbine Muguruza--She's won it before, and she can win it again. Muguruza is as mercurial as they come, but when she's on a big stage, she lights up. I like her chances to win a second French Open.
Caroline Garcia--She has the skills, and has banished her fear-of-France demons. Who knows?
Kiki Mladenovic--She has the skills, but consistency tends to elude the emotionally busy Frenchwoman.
Svetlana Kuznetsova--The 2009 champion still has all the great clay moves, but her glory days appear to be over. Wouldn't it be nice, though? (Dream final: Kuznetsova vs. Siegemund--bathroom breaks for everyone.)
Elina Svitolina--The very successful title winner hasn't performed to her potential at the majors, but if she decides to do so, the French Open would be a good testing ground.
Daria Kasatkina--It may not happen this year, but Kasatkina has everything it takes to win at Roland Garros. The young Russian stylist can only get better, and her recent obvious increase in confidence bodes well for her to do something really big.
Right now, I think that Muguruza and Halep show the most potential to win the 2018 French Open, with Kerber as another possible serious choice. We'll learn more as the clay season starts, but--as Ostapenko's victory proves--we should never think we know very much.