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Tennis - 05. June 2017.

Winning Women at Roland Garros

Several players still alive in the draw at Roland-Garros have records that far outshine their performances at other Grand Slam tournaments. Are these numbers instructive when it comes to discussing potential title winners in 2017?



The wide open women’s draw – how the 2017 campaign to declare a champion has been heralded in the absence of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka – has produced tantalising intrigue at Roland-Garros, particularly now that a new name is now guaranteed to join the ranks of Grand Slam champions.

Will the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen be won this weekend by a clay-court specialist, an in-form dark horse or an inspired home player? Or perhaps a youngster bursting in to Grand Slam reckoning?

By the time the 16 fourth-round berths were filled, a trend had emerged - many of those 16 players owned Roland Garros win-loss records far superior to those they'd accumulated at other majors. We figured that would be somewhat instructive when it came to conversations of title favouritism - until on Sunday several of those with gilded Roland-Garros CVs were knocked out of contention, namely Garbine Muguruza (who embarked on her fourth-round match with a stellar 19-3 at 90 per cent record at Roland-Garros); Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, on 52-13 at 80 per cent; Samantha Stosur on 37-13 at 74 per cent.

On Monday, Carla Suarez Navarro - on 23-8 at 74 per cent - joined them on the sidelines after falling to Simona Halep.

Yet there are still many women left in the tournament who have historically brought their best tennis to the clay courts at Stade Roland-Garros.

Elina Svitolina, with a 13-4 record - a winning rate of almost 76.5 per cent - arrived having beaten all the other title favourites on clay, including Muguruza and Simona Halep. Her come-from-behind victory over qualifier Petra Martic, during which she trailed 2-5 and 0-30 before reeling off 20 of the last 24 points, sends her into a blockbuster quarter-final stoush with Halep, a rematch of the Rome final. Svitolina has reached the second week at a major just three times in her career, and all three times have been right here in Paris.  

Timea Bacsinsky, who's 18-7 record in Paris has delivered her a 72 per cent success rate, wants to prolong her stay as long as possible, as she loves the sights of the city as much as she adores playing at Roland-Garros. For the third year running, the Swiss star has reached the last eight. Her best performance was when she advanced to the semis in 2015.

Simona Halep owns a 15-7 record (68 per cent) at the French Open. Oddly, it's not her best record at a major tournament - her 16-7 record at the US Open just shades it. Yet the relative veteran has displaying fabulous form in her run to the last eight and is famous for her best Grand Slam run right here when she advanced to the 2014 final. Among the best players never to have won a Grand Slam, she is looking primed to seize one of the big ones.

We whisked out the calculator to compare the Roland-Garros records among the other women remaining in the draw. Here, we list them in ranking order (up to date at the time of writing):

Jelena Ostapenko (4-1, 80 per cent) - in only her second main-draw appearance, the young Latvian has achieved her best result at any Slam by advancing to the last eight.

Caroline Wozniacki (18-9, 67 per cent) - for just the second time, the former world No.1 is through to the last eight in Paris.

Veronica Cepede Royg (4-2, 67 per cent) - the Paraguayan has made an unlikely run to the fourth round after upsetting Lucie Safarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and faces Karolina Pliskova for a quarter-final berth in just her third appearance in the Roland-Garros main draw.

Alize Cornet (17-12, 60 per cent) - she leads the French trio still alive in the tournament, all of whom are motivated to become the first Frenchwoman to triumph on home soil since Mary Pierce in 2000.

Kristina Mladenovic (11-8, 58 per cent) - another of the Frenchwomen in the draw, she beat defending champion Muguruza to reach her second Grand Slam quarter-final, and first at Roland-Garros.

Caroline Garcia (6-6, 50 per cent) - the third of the French trio faces Cornet in an all-French fourth-round affair. It's by far her best French Open to date.

Karolina Pliskova (5-5, 50 per cent) - as a player who prospers on hard courts, she plays with few expectations, and despite being the second seed she has slipped relatively unnoticed through the draw to reach round four.

Yet perhaps it is not just about having a game well-suited to clay. It is about all sorts of intangibles which, round by round, become woven into a magical thread through the seven matches a player must win to claim a Grand Slam title.

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