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With Serena Williams off the tour as she gets ready to deliver her first child and Maria Sharapova not gaining a wild card entry, who will fill their void and claim the women’s singles title at Roland Garros?

For now, Germany’s Angelique Kerber has the status as the world No. 1 and could be considered the favorite in Paris. However, it is interesting to note that Kerber has not won a tournament since the U.S. Open last summer! She is a counter-puncher without many big weapons outside of her guile and competitiveness, but has shown her nerves and discomfort since she took over as world No. 1 last September. However, she has won two major singles titles – the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016 to go with her runner-up showing at Wimbledon and the Olympics so she has a long line of experiences to draw from.

Defending French Open champion Garbine Muguruza hasn’t won a tournament title since she won in Paris last year and, like Kerber, does seem a bit a reluctant champion. The Spaniard may become inspired by her return to Paris and on the red clay she loves so much. Amazingly, she has only won three singles titles in all in her career!

The explosive Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic seems poised to soon become a major champion, highlighted with her dismissal of Serena Williams at last year’s US Open en route to her runner-up finish. However, for Paris, she has said out loud to the media that she dislikes the clay and perhaps we can believe her.

Romania’s Simona Halep, the winner in Madrid and a former finalist in Paris, and Dominka Cibulkova, the winner of the WTA Tour year-end championships in Singapore last fall, could break through and win their maiden majors in Paris. Halep has struggled under the pressure of being the No. 2 seed at many majors, but played a lot more relaxed en route to winning in Madrid. Cibulkova has won many big matches on the Grand Slam stage and was a former Australian Open finalist. The French clay suits her game perfectly and she could also be the player to raise the Coupe de Suzanne Lenglen at the end of the event.

Other dark horses could be veteran and 2009 Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the runner-up this year in Indian Wells, who is ranked No. 9 in the world and still playing great tennis at age 31 and 13 years after breaking through to win her first major singles title at the 2004 U.S. Open.

Britain’s Jo Konta, the winner of the Miami Open, may not have the clay-court mettle to break-through and win in Paris but could she pull an “Andy Murray” and win at Wimbledon later in the summer? Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, the Italian Open champion, could also continue her good form beyond just a nice second-week run.

Injury woes for Aga Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki will hurt their chances in Paris and not likely candidates for French Open betting, but Indian Wells champ Elena Vesnina of Russia could once again rise to make another surprise run. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia and Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia could also be long-shot picks to win the title – and causing trophy engravers some added stress!

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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