Roland Garros 2023: Popcorn matches from the women’s singles draw
Roland Garros is drawing ever closer, and yesterday’s women’s singles draw has wet the appetite for fans after some blockbuster round one clashes were set.
Here are five of the matches that we at Tennishead are most looking forward to:
Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs Marta Kostyuk
Aryna Sabalenka has taken her tennis to a whole other level in 2023, and after winning her maiden Grand Slam title in Australia has continued that form leaving her at the top of the WTA race.
The Belarusian has had a mixed clay court season, having won her second Madrid Open title and reached the final of Stuttgart, but lost her only match in Rome to Sofia Kenin.
Aryna Sabalenka as Madrid champion 👇
▪️ 13th title
▪️ 5th WTA 1000
🧱 2nd title on clay (Madrid x2)
▪️ 1st player to beat Swiatek in a final on clay since 2020
▪️ Player with most victories vs World No.1 since 2019 (4) pic.twitter.com/wZiFXHwMc5
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) May 7, 2023
Sabalenka will have to bring her A-game from the get go in Paris, as she faces a tough test against Marta Kostyuk in her first round match.
The 20-year-old Ukranian has only won two matches on the dirt this year, but has gone further at Roland Garros than Sabalenka after reaching the fourth round two years ago.
There is also an added element of tension in this match due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, and with Kostyuk being very outspoken against Russian and Belarusian players there is likely to be no love lost when these two come to blows.
Karolina Pliskova (16) vs Sloane Stephens
Former top three players will battle it out when 16th seed Karolina Pliskova takes on 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens at the clay court major.
Stephens is a former finalist at Roland Garros and reached the quarter-finals last year, so has some pedigree on the surface despite early exits in Rome and Madrid this year.
Although Stephens had early exits at the WTA 1000 clay events, she did win a WTA 125 event in Saint Malo and is currently bidding for her eighth career WTA title on the Moroccan clay of Rabat.
While Pliskova is a former semi-finalist at Roland Garros, the former No.1 has not made it past the third round in her last five attempts.
The American will be feeling the more positive about their head-to-head, as she has a 4-1 lead that includes a straight sets victory at Roland Garros in 2021.
Victoria Azarenka (18) vs Bianca Andreescu
Victoria Azarenka will be looking to recreate the form she found in Melbourne earlier this year when she faces Bianca Andreescu in a first-time meeting at the second major of the year.
Neither player is known for their clay credentials, with Azarenka picking up two wins on the surface so far this year and Andreescu still winless on the dirt in 2023.
The Belarusian made it to the final four of Roland Garros back in 2013, however her fitness levels are currently unclear after withdrawing from her third round match in Rome.
What we do know is that both players are willing to fight for every ball, and that sets up for a fascinating contest when the two Grand Slam champions walk out onto the court in the French capital.
Get the popcorn ready for this first-round clash 🍿@vika7 v @Bandreescu_ #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/Ven2IEtlqa
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 25, 2023
Jessica Pegula (3) vs Danielle Collins
There will be an all American clash in the first round when No.3 Jessica Pegula takes on 2021 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins.
Both are former quarter-finalists at Roland Garros, but Collins has struggled for form in 2023 and has lost her only clay match of the year in Charleston.
Collins will be hoping for a change in fortunes in more than one way, as she is also winless in her three previous meetings with the ever consistent Pegula.
Maria Sakkari (8) vs Karolina Muchova
Eighth seed Maria Sakkari has been given a nightmare first round draw with Karolina Muchova, who beat the Greek at Roland Garros last year.
While Muchova is unseeded, the Czech often brings her best performances at the big events including reaching the fourth round in Rome last week.
Sakkari was inches away from reaching the final of Roland Garros in 2021, when she had match points saved in her semi-final match against eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova, and will be hoping to take it one step further over the next fortnight.
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