Here are our takeaways from the French Open women’s singles draw
The Top Half
No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka leads the top half, but she’ll have a rough road to the finals. In the second round the US and Aussie Open champ will play the winner of a popcorn match between Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka, who have won a combined three Slams. She should face last year’s semifinalist Madison Keys in the fourth round. If she prevails she could play Serena, Ash Barty, or Indian Wells champ Bianca Andreescu in the quarters.
Three-time French Open champ Serena Williams is the No. 10 seed, putting her in the top half. For once the 37-year-old has a reasonable draw. In the first round she’ll face Vitalia Diatchenko and won’t play a “big name” until the third round where she could face Andreescu. The young Canadian hasn’t played since Miami and could be upset by the emerging Floridian Sofia Kenin, meaning Serena might not face a seed until the fourth round – either Ash Barty or Su-Wei Hsieh.
Defending champ Simona Halep, probably the strongest player in the half, won’t have to play a top 15 player until the quarters. She is the bookies’ favorite to take the title. At the bottom of Halep’s quarter is Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova, both big hitters who will have to adjust their power game to the clay.
The Bottom Half
Sloane Stephens will have a tough time repeating her finals run from last year. But she shouldn’t have too much trouble until the fourth, where she could face French Open and Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza, Venus Williams or Elina Svitolina. Venus, a former French finalist, has a terrible draw and will play No. 6 seed Svitolina in the first round. They’ve split the two matches they’ve played but the Ukrainian crushed her at the 2017 Canadian Open.
In the bottom of Stephens’ quarter is the Madrid Open champ Kiki Bertens, the bookies’ second pick to win. They would face off in the quarters. A match we’d love to see is American wildcard Lauren Davis, who played a classic match against Halep at the 2018 Aussie Open, against Bertens in the third.
Three-time Slam champ Angie Kerber leads the next section and won’t play a top 15 player until the fourth round, which should give her time to find her form after pulling out of Madrid and Rome. Notably, American Shelby Rogers entered on a protected ranking. The South Carolinian had a dream run to the quarters in 2016 and will first face Carla Suarez-Navarro.
The final quarter is sandwiched by former No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki and Italian Open champ Karolina Pliskova. In between is Julia Gorges, Kiki Mladenovic, and Petra Martic.
Both halves of the draw are tough but the two favorites, Halep and Bertens, have the easiest quarters. They are on opposite sides of the draw and could meet in the final. The hardest draws appear to be Osaka’s and Pliskova’s, each with two other Slam champs in their quarters.