2022 French Open Women’s Singles Roundtable Predictions: Champion, Dark Horse, and Early Exit

Iga Swiatek Rome Forehand

Ahead of the second Grand Slam of 2022, five Last Word on Tennis writers – Vithun Illankovan (@VitIllankovan), Jakob Bobro (@bobrojakub), Damian Kust (@damiankust), Jack Edward and Gavin Lang – made their French Open predictions for the Women’s Singles tournament. We also have a separate roundtable for the Men’s singles.

French Open Women’s Singles Roundtable Predictions

Champion – Who will win the French Open?

Vithun: (6) Ons Jabeur [TUN]

Everyone else will likely be astounded with me not picking Iga Swiatek, but I would be mightily impressed if she won the French Open this year. I generally advise against entering a big tournament with a win-streak including two titles to your name; let alone five as in Swiatek’s case! You do not need the additional pressure of maintaining a long-win streak on the biggest stages and the proof is in the pudding. Of the nine longest WTA win streaks since 2000 (excluding Swiatek’s), five ended in Grand Slams, which is significantly over the proportion they make up of the tennis calendar.

If Swiatek were to win the French Open, it would mean that her win streak will be up at 35 equalling Venus Williams. However, I think with an increasing media focus on statistics, I believe there will be too much pressure and Swiatek will experience defeat for the first time since mid-February. Many may ask who could Swiatek possibly lose to? The answer is my Dark Horse pick!

The next favourite in the odds to win the women’s French Open is Ons Jabeur. The 6th seed is entering the French Open with a lot of clay-court wins (including a title in Madrid) but no win streak, which I believe is the prime position to be in. The last six women’s French Open champions have been first-time Grand Slam winners and given that Jabeur has also previously won the juniors (in 2011), she is my pick to win the French Open.

Jakub: (1) Iga Swiatek [POL]

Undefeated since February and a champion here in 2020, I would be shocked if someone does not have Swiatek top of the list here. The 20-year-old’s dominance has been stunning to witness, as she took the titles at Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, and Rome, two of them without even dropping a set. The early draw is nice for the Pole, opening against a qualifier and then Dayana Yastremska or Alison Riske. The fourth round could be tricky with Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko looming, but Swiatek has shown that the draw does not matter on the 28-match winning streak.

Damian: (1) Iga Swiatek [POL]

No one can beat Iga Świątek right now. I’m pretty convinced that if she loses in this tournament, it will be due to her own level dropping rather than someone coming out and playing extremely well. One concern is that she might be coming into this event relatively undercooked. Sounds crazy, right? But her degree of dominance led to her not really facing any pressure in most of her matches.

Is it a possibility that when the stakes get raised, Świątek will fold? You can’t really exclude it but there’s composure and focus in her that wasn’t there previously. Iga vs the field? I’m taking the Pole.

Jack: (1) Iga Swiatek [POL]

Who else?

By all accounts, Iga Swiatek should come through the French Open having extended her streak to 35 consecutive wins.

There are few players that could mess with the Pole’s ferocious level at the moment. Jelena Ostapenko is the only player with a peak high enough to ask the question of Swiatek before the final and even getting her to the fourth-round would be a massive ask.

A final against Barbora Krejcikova or Maria Sakkari could be the only possibility of her being threatened (in 2022, Swiatek saved two match points against Krejcikova at the Rome Masters and was knocked out of the French Open by Sakkari). Given Swiatek’s form in finals though, this would still be the upset of the year.

Having actually considered the possibility of upsets, my mind is well and truly made up. Iga Swiatek to win the French Open.

Gavin: (1) Iga Swiatek [POL]

Despite the unpredictability of the WTA Tour, Iga Swiatek has been remarkably consistent and has looked unbeatable at times this season. Swiatek is on a 28 match winning streak, and was ruthless in Rome as she won the title with relative ease. Despite the pressure being more intense at a Grand Slam, the fact that Swiatek has already won Roland Garros means that she is more likely to cope well with the pressure. There are few players who can cope with Swiatek at her best, and the fact that she did not play Madrid will mean that she should be physically in her peak condition.

Dark Horse – Who will go furthest in the draw, relative to their seeding (or ranking)?

Vithun: (19) Simona Halep [ROU]

As Iga Swiatek was racking up the victories, my prediction was that the win-streak would end in the 4th Round of the French Open to Simona Halep. Now that the draw did indeed create the potential for this 4th Round match as I had predicted, I am doubling down on my prediction that Halep will be the one to end Swiatek’s streak.

Simona Halep won the French Open in 2018. Her title defence in 2019 ended in the quarter-finals. She entered the 2020 French Open on a long-win streak that included three titles. But her win-streak ended in the 4th Round (another long win-streak that ended in a Grand Slam may I add!) with defeat to Iga Swiatek. Swiatek went on to win the title in 2020 and her title defence last year ended in the quarter-finals. With Swiatek entering this year’s tournament on a long win-streak in just seems fitting that it ends against Halep in the 4th round!

However, I am not predicting Simona Halep to go on and win the title. Instead, I am predicting her to reach the final. Jelena Ostapenko is Halep’s projected 3rd Round opponent but the 13th seed is on a five match-losing streak with no wins on clay this year. Even though she is a former French Open champion herself, this is more due to Halep’s mental fragility in the 2017 final rather than Ostapenko being of Grand Slam champion calibre. Assuming she gets past Swiatek in the 4th Round, her projected quarter-final opponent is Karolina Pliskova. The 8th seed is still in the process of getting matches under her belt as she recovers from an arm injury that made her miss the start of the season. Haley’s projected semi-final opponent would be 3rd seed Paula Badosa, whose medocrity she comfortably exposed in Madrid earlier this year. Therefore, there seems to be a pathway to the final for her.

We’ve recently seen several multiple Grand Slam winners reach a Grand Slam final several years after their previous appearance:

  • Venus Williams (2017: Australian Open & Wimbledon, 8 years since previous final)
  • Petra Kvitova (2019: Australian Open, 5 years since previous final)
  • Garbine Muguruza (2020: Australian Open, 3 years since previous final)
  • Victoria Azarenka (2020: US Open, 7 years since previous final)

Unfortunately these returns to a Grand Slam final all ended in defeat as their prime Grand Slam winning days were over and I fear the same fate for Halep. Nevertheless, given Halep is seeded 19th she would be projected to reach the 3rd Round so making the final would mean four rounds better. Therefore, Halep is my Dark Horse pick.

Jakub: (15) Victoria Azarenka [BLR]

With Krejcikova being out since February, it is likely someone else will emerge to take her projected quarterfinal spot. I have chosen Victoria Azarenka as the main favorite to do that and have her best result in Paris since her 2013 semifinal run. Jil Teichmann will be the biggest challenge in her section, though despite the Swiss’ good form on clay this year, she has never won a main draw match at the French Open. There are a couple of interesting names as far as fourth-round opponents go outside of Krejcikova in Sloane Stephens and Sorana Cirstea, though both are out of form.

Damian: (27) Amanda Anisimova [USA]

Despite reaching the semifinals here three years ago, the young American hasn’t really developed as well as everyone expected her to. This year has provided a welcome change in her career though as Anisimova is back to being a huge threat. She reached the quarterfinals in all three of her clay events so far and plays a style that shuts down the opponent when she’s on. In a draw where Świątek is the only real favorite, the potential is almost unlimited. First-round against Osaka sounds tough, but a clay court gives her a great chance to win.

Jack: (2) Barbora Krejcikova [CZE]

My men’s pick was also the second-seed but this time it’s even less original. Not only is Barbora Krejcikova the second-seed, she’s also the defending champion.

Very few people are paying any attention to her however. Krejcikova has been sidelined with an injury since February so naturally the focus has strayed from her. The Czech claims to be fit and well however and she has been given a pretty comfortable first couple of rounds to get settled into the tournament should she be as healthy as she claims.

Qualifier Julie Niemeier could be a immense in the third-round and Jil Teichmann is definitely difficult in the fourth but there’s absolutely no guarantee those players make it that far. There are few seeds that make me raise an eyebrow in Krejcikova’s quarter beside Coco Gauff – if Barbora Krejcikova reached the semifinals, she’d have surpassed most people’s expectations.

The long and short of it? Don’t forget about the defending champ!

Gavin: (23) Jil Teichmann [SUI]

Jil Teichmann has been playing some great tennis during the clay court season. The Swiss player reached the semifinals in Madrid, where she recorded strong straight sets wins over Petra Kvitova, Leylah Fernandez, and Elena Rybakina. The Swiss then reached the quarter-finals in Rome, where she was forced to retire through injury. Teichmann has already proven herself as a player to look out for on the WTA Tour, and she reached the final in Cincinatti this year. Seeded at 23 for Roland Garros, the Swiss is in the bottom half of the draw, thus has avoided the likes of Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa. Teichmann definitely has the capability to put together a deep run at Roland Garros.

Early Exit – Who will suffer the earliest exit, relative to their seeding or hype?

Vithun: (1) Iga Swiatek [POL]

I believe Swiatek has been working hard instead of working smart. I think she has been giving her all and getting very emotional winning all these tour events which some of her peers treat like competitive exhibitions, only to not win the biggest title these events have led up to. As mentioned in my Dark Horse answer, I have Swiatek losing in the 4th Round to Simona Halep. Whilst that is still in the second week, it is four rounds worse than winning which is what a No.1 seed and overwhelming bookies’ favourite is projected to do. Therefore, Swiatek is my early exit pick.

Jakub: (4) Maria Sakkari [GRE]

As the fourth seed, Sakkari is projected to reach the semifinals, though I would be shocked if she reaches that stage with her draw. The road would be tough for the Greek, starting with having to face former Grand Slam semifinalist Karolina Muchova. After that, Sakkari will likely have to face Amanda Anisimova or Naomi Osaka before playing Leylah Fernandez, Belinda Bencic or Bianca Andreescu in the fourth round. If she makes it out of that, Ons Jabeur, one of the most in-form players on tour will likely await in the quarterfinals.

Damian: (10) Garbine Muguruza [ESP]

She went to Rabat this week seeking match rhythm, but lost to Martina Trevisan in the second round. The Spaniard is facing the ultimate giant-killer Kaia Kanepi in her opener here (9-11 against the top 10 at the Slams). Even if she survives, someone like in-form Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second match is going to be extremely tough to beat. A potential meeting with Cori Gauff in round three also doesn’t work in her favour.

Jack: (4) Maria Sakkari [GRE]

I thought I’d go for someone a little less obvious to point out potential roadblocks for someone favoured to do well at the tournament (avoiding Aryna Sabalenka, Anett Kontaveit or Garbine Muguruza for example).

Maria Sakkari is a quality player and certainly has a chance of making a run to the semifinals or final. If the draw goes the wrong way however, there’s a similar chance of an upset occurring.

  • 2nd: Karolina Muchova has an incredible peak and has troubled the best in the world in the past. Clay isn’t her best surface but there is still a chance for her here.
  • 3rd: Amanda Anisimova would basically be a coin toss given how well the American can play on this surface.
  • 4th: Belinda Bencic may underrate her own chances on clay but, after watching her in Charleston, Sakkari will be under constant pressure if she’s feeling nervy on serve.

The draw aside, there is also a high possibility last week’s loss to Ons Jabeur has left some mental scar tissue.

It’ll be extremely interesting to see how Maria Sakkari fares at this year’s French Open.

Gavin: (–) Naomi Osaka [JPN]

Naomi Osaka has barely played any tennis during the clay court season. The Japanese player was defeated comfortably by Sara Sorribes Tormo in the Round of 32 in Madrid, and did not play in Rome. Osaka faces Amanda Anisimova in the first round, which is a rematch of their epic Australian Open third round encounter. The American won that match, coming from a set down to win in a final set tiebreak. Osaka is not seeded for Roland Garros, and with her withdrawal last year and the fact that she has not played much clay court tennis, I think Anisimova will prove too strong in the first round.

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