Aryna Sabalenka thanks Billie Jean King after Australian Open win
It's Sabalenka's first title.
The French Open kicked off Sunday at Roland Garros, with players meeting on the famous red clay courts for the second Grand Slam of the tennis season. The surface can be tricky, often leading to long rallies and the potential for thrilling upsets, as we’ve seen through the first two days of the tournament.
Ons Jabeur, for example, entered Roland Garros as a heavy favorite with a 17-3 record on clay, the best this season. In the first major shocker of the tournament, the No. 6-ranked player fell to Magda Linette Sunday. Barbora Krejčíková, another strong clay player and the reigning French Open champion, was upset the next day, losing in three sets to French teenager Diane Parry on Monday.
As the French Open continues, we run down the best women’s tennis players on clay still remaining in the field.
Iga Świątek is on a tear, riding a 28-match win streak into the French Open. The current world No. 1 looks unbeatable on any surface, but especially on clay, where she’s started the season 9-0. Świątek’s aggressive hitting from the baseline has helped her win five straight WTA titles, the latest coming in Rome. She easily handled first-round opponent Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0 on Monday to advance to the second round.
What makes Świątek particularly dangerous on clay is her ability to move with ease and slide on defense to keep her in points. With her forehand packing an even harder punch on clay, Świątek has all the tools to claim her second French Open title in Roland Garros.
Simona Halep has been deemed the queen of clay, winning the French Open in 2018. The Romanian star has the ability to stay in long rallies with her defense and ability to slide seamlessly, often shifting momentum in her favor.
The 30-year-old holds a 4-2 record on clay this season, with her best result a quarterfinal finish in Madrid.
Jabeur’s early exit opens the door for Halep, under new coach Patrick Mouratoglou, to test Świątek at the French Open. Halep begins her French Open campaign Tuesday against Nastasja Mariana Schunk.
No. 3 Paula Badosa calls clay her favorite surface, where her aggressive baseline game puts opponents under pressure from start to finish.
“You all know that clay court is my favorite surface, but that also makes it tricky because maybe they think you are even more favorite and now they play better against you,” Badosa told WTA Insider.
The Spaniard has a 6-4 record on clay this season, including a semifinal run at Stuttgart in April. Badosa will look to improve upon last year’s quarterfinal appearance at the French Open as she seeks her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. She meets Fiona Ferro in the first round Tuesday.
No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka takes an impressive 7-4 clay record into Roland Garros, having made runs to both the Stuttgart finals and the Rome semifinals. Overall on clay, the 24-year-old has made the final in Stuttgart twice and won the Madrid Open.
Sabalenka’s dominance on the surface, however, hasn’t translated to Roland Garros. The Belarusian star has made the semifinals of every Grand Slam except the French Open.
Sabalenka begins her quest for her first major title against Chloé Paquet in the first round Tuesday.
Amanda Anisimova’s best results have come on clay, including her first WTA title in Bogotá in 2019.
The American holds a 10-3 record on the surface this season, reaching the quarterfinals in Rome and Madrid and the semifinals in Charleston. The 20-year-old has also had success at Roland Garros, making a semifinal run at the Grand Slam in 2019.
Anisimova, the No. 27 seed, is already off to a roaring start, defeating Naomi Osaka 7-5, 6-4 in the first round Monday and riding the momentum into her second-round matchup with Donna Vekic.
It's Sabalenka's first title.
Instead, she'll set her sights on the doubles bracket.
Pegula is the last American woman standing.
Both lost in straight sets.
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