If history holds true, then the best thing to be in a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the women is a novice. No woman has won multiple Grand Slams in a calendar year since 2016. That’s going on six years of constant change at the top of the women’s game. In fact, since the end of 2016 there have been twelve different winners across the 21 Grand Slams played. Eight were first-time winners who haven’t yet won another Grand Slam title. Caroline Wozniacki never will as she has retired from tennis, but the rest of those eight winners are young players. Most are still amongst the best in the women’s game. So, if the trend continues then what does that mean for the French Open’s remaining women in the 2022?
French Open’s Remaining Women
Iga Swiatek and Sloane Stephens Stand Alone as Past Winners
The tournament favourite is Iga Swiatek and deservedly so. The world #1 has won 32 matches in a row and 50 of the last 52 sets of tennis she has played. Those are ridiculous numbers and are also an accurate reflection of her dominance over the last few months. The general feeling is that there is nobody left who can beat her and I’m inclined to agree. She owns the head-to-head against five of the six women she could face after Jessica Pegula and is tied with the American at one win each. However, Pegula’s win was in 2019 whereas Swiatek beat the American in straight sets earlier this year. The only remaining woman yet to play Swiatek is Sloane Stephens who is also the only woman left in the draw who has won a Grand Slam.
Stephens has been very up and down over the last two years. In fact, the week before the French Open Stephens lost to Nefisa Berberovic who is ranked at #292 in the world. However, she’s also lifted a WTA title this year at Guadalajara and has looked very good so far in Paris. At her best, Stephens is an elite counterpuncher and an incredible athlete who is very tough to beat. If she can find that level consistently over the coming days she should certainly be considered a contender for the title. However, as discussed, past champions are at odds with history as far as likely winners go. That is especially true at Roland Garros in recent years.
French Open a Happy Hunting Ground for First-Time Winners
Since 2000, Ten women have won their first Grand Slam at the French Open. The last five except Simona Halep were sizeable shocks. Those four are Jelena Ostapenko, Ashleigh Barty, Iga Swiatek and Barbora Krejcikova. Swiatek was the favourite last year and crumbled spectacularly, Ostapenko and Halep haven’t been all that close to the final since, Barty is retired and Krejcikova lost in the first round this year in a rather poor attempt at defending her title. So, Roland Garros is a great place to win a first Grand Slam but seems to be a difficult place to repeat the feat. How does that bode for the French Open’s remaining women?
Rest of the Field Fresh-Faced and Hopeful
It’s safe to say that this year’s French Open is wide open outside of Swiatek. The Polish star is the only top ten player left in the quarterfinals. Her and Stephens are the only past winners. Leylah Fernandez made the US Open final last year but has little Grand Slam experience otherwise. The rest of the remaining players have never been past the quarterfinal stage in a Grand Slam before.
Coco Gauff made this stage of the tournament last year and Daria Kasatkina has been to the quarterfinals in Paris twice. Other than that, there really isn’t much success to speak of at this tournament. Historically that gives hope to six of the eight, with Swiatek and Stephens carrying the ‘past winners’ curse into their remaining matches. However, this is the first women’s tournament in a very long time where the favourite is as clear cut as Swiatek is here.
Can Anyone Stop the Incredible Iga Swiatek?
Swiatek has made it her mission to demolish the competition in 2022. The Polish star has won five tournaments in a row, four of which were WTA 1000 events. To put her dominance in context, Barty topped the race to the WTA Finals last year with 6411 points. If Swiatek wins this tournament, she will have 7000 points already across just nine tournaments so far this year. She has been the very definition of unstoppable and it is little surprise that – for once – everyone expects the favourite to walk away with title at a woman’s Grand Slam.
The rest of the field will be hopeful, and it is great to see fresh faces in the latter stages of a Grand Slam once again. However, two questions loom large over the remaining players. Who, if anyone, stops Iga Swiatek? And if they do, then who steps up and claims glory from the French Open’s remaining woman? I for one can’t wait to find out.