The first week of the 2014 French Open is in the books on the women’s side. We’ve seen upsets, making this a historic event with the top three seeds in the draw already gone; we’ve seen youngsters making names for themselves; and we’ve seen exciting three set matches. With the second week of the second major of the year about to begin, it’s time to look at each Round of 16 matchup and see how they’ve reached that point and who might be advancing to the quarterfinals.
Garbine Muguruza vs Pauline Parmentier
Head-to-Head: First Meeting
Rankings: Muguruza 35, Parmentier 145
2014 Claycourt Record including 2014 French Open: Muguruza 8-3, Parmentier 8-5 (5-3 on ITF Circuit, 0-1 in Qualifiers)
How Muguruza got here (ranking in parentheses):
1st Round—defeated Grace Min (130) 7-5, 7-6(6)
2nd Round—defeated 1-seed Serena Williams (1) 6-2, 6-2
3rd Round—defeated Anna Schmiedlova (56) 6-2, 6-4
How Parmentier got here (ranking in parentheses):
1st Round—defeated 17-seed Roberta Vinci (20) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
2nd Round—defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (69) 1-6, 6-3, 6-3
3rd Round—defeated Mona Barthel (74) 1-6, 6-1, 7-5
Garbine Muguruza, the Serena slayer, backed up her win over the overwhelming favorite with a solid victory over the Schmiedlova, the player who rallied to defeat Venus Williams. She’ll be taking on the last Frenchwoman in the draw, which means the home-crowd fans will be against the Spaniard. Parmentier has had to rally in all three of her matches this year at Roland Garros, playing better as the match goes along. I don’t know if Muguruza will allow Parmentier to get back into the match this time though.
Prediction: Muguruza in two sets.
(7) Maria Sharapova vs (19) Samantha Stosur
Head-to-Head: Sharapova 13-2 Stosur
Rankings: Sharapova 8, Stosur 18
2014 Claycourt Record including 2014 French Open: Sharapova 15-1 (2 titles: Stuttgart, Madrid), Stosur 8-4
How Sharapova got here (ranking in parentheses):
1st Round—defeated Ksenia Pervak (156) 6-1, 6-2
2nd Round—defeated Tsvetana Pironkova (42) 7-5, 6-2
3rd Round—defeated Paula Ormaechea (75) 6-0, 6-0
How Stosur got here (ranking in parentheses):
1st Round—defeated Monica Puig (41) 6-1, 6-1
2nd Round—defeated Yvonne Meusburger (38) 6-1, 6-3
3rd Round—defeated 9-seed Dominika Cibulkova (10) 6-4, 6-4
The head-to-head between these two is not favorable at all for the Aussie, as she gets in trouble with her kick serve bouncing right into Sharapova’s strike zone and Sharapova’s groundstrokes taking away the time needed for Stosur to set up for her forehand. Maria has also improved immensely in the last few years as possibly the second-best clay courter in the world. Now that she sees that Serena Williams is out of the draw, she’s going to be extra motivated that she not let this chance at a fifth major title slip away.
Prediction: Sharapova in two sets.
(14) Carla Suarez Navarro vs Ajla Tomljanovic
Head-to-Head: First Meeting
Rankings: Suarez Navarro 15, Tomljanovic 72
2014 Claycourt Record including 2014 French Open: Suarez Navarro 17-3 (1 title: Oeiras), Tomljanovic 10-5 (4-2 in Qualifiers)
How Suarez Navarro got here:
1st Round—defeated Yuliya Beygelzimer (157) 7-5, 7-5
2nd Round—defeated Timea Bacsinszky (112) 7-5, 1-6, 6-4
3rd Round—defeated Taylor Townsend (205) 6-2, 6-2
How Tomljanovic got here:
1st Round—defeated Francesca Schiavone (54) 6-3, 6-3
2nd Round—defeated 32-seed Elena Vesnina (32) 7-6(6), 6-2
3rd Round—defeated 3-seed Agnieszka Radwanska (3) 6-4, 6-4
Ajla Tomljanovic made this tournament historic in her upset of Agnieszka Radwanska, marking it the first time in the Open Era that none of the top three seeds made the fourth round. She’s been fantastic in her three matches, not dropping a set. That may end now against Carla Suarez Navarro, who’s been to the quarterfinals of this event before. One interesting thing about Suarez Navarro’s path though: she hasn’t played an opponent ranked in the Top 100 in the first week. In her three wins, she’s struggled as well: she was pushed in both sets in her first round win and could have lost her second round match against Bacsinszky.
Prediction: Suarez Navarro in three sets.
(8) Angelique Kerber vs (18) Eugenie Bouchard
Head-to-Head: Kerber 1-0 Bouchard
Rankings: Kerber 9, Bouchard 16
2014 Claycourt Record including 2014 French Open: Kerber 5-4, Bouchard 13-4 (1 title: Nurnberg)
How Kerber got here:
1st Round—defeated Katarzyna Piter (95) 6-3, 6-1
2nd Round—defeated Varvara Lepchenko (58) 6-2, 7-5
3rd Round—defeated 31-seed Daniela Hantuchova (31) 7-5, 6-3
How Bouchard got here:
1st Round—defeated Shahar Peer (88) 6-0, 6-2
2nd Round—defeated Julia Goerges (107) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
3rd Round—defeated Johanna Larsson (99) 7-5, 6-4
Angelique Kerber has been one of the few seeds to survive and advance in this section of the draw and is one round away from living up to her seeding. She suffered through a dismal claycourt build-up but has managed to win all of her three matches in straight sets. Bouchard, a player who was also struggling on the clay this year prior to her first career title in Nurnberg, now has an eight match win streak going. She struggled early in her second round match against Julia Goerges, arguably the best player on clay that she’s faced in this tournament. Kerber’s more in form than Goerges, but not as potent on the red stuff.
Prediction: Bouchard in three sets.
(23) Lucie Safarova vs (27) Svetlana Kuznetsova
Head-to-Head: Safarova 3-3 Kuznetsova
Rankings: Safarova 24, Kuznetsova 28
2014 Claycourt Record including 2014 French Open: Safarova 10-6 (0-1 on ITF Circuit), Kuznetsova 11-4
How Safarova got here:
1st Round—defeated Mandy Minella (143) 6-3, 7-5
2nd Round—defeated Casey Dellacqua (48) 6-1, 5-7, 6-3
3rd Round—defeated 11-seed Ana Ivanovic (12) 6-3, 6-3
How Kuznetsova got here:
1st Round—defeated Sofia Shapatava (204) 6-3, 6-1
2nd Round—defeated Camila Giorgi (50) 7-6(5), 6-3
3rd Round—defeated 5-seed Petra Kvitova (6) 6-7(3), 6-1, 9-7
Both players pulled off sizable upsets in the third round to get to this point. Lucie Safarova was finally able to pull together a complete match and take out the former Roland Garros champion Ana Ivanovic. Svetlana Kuznetsova rallied from a first-set deficit and pushed through a difficult and rapidly changing third set to take out Petra Kvitova. The big question here will be whether Svetlana Kuznetsova will be able to rebound quickly after the topsy-turvy and heavy-hitting upset over Petra Kvitova. If she’s able to recover, I have to give the edge to the former champion here.
Prediction: Kuznetsova in three sets.
(4) Simona Halep vs (15) Sloane Stephens
Head-to-Head: Halep 1-2 Stephens
Rankings: Halep 4, Stephens 19
2014 Clay Court Record including 2014 French Open: Halep 9-3, Stephens 6-5
How Halep got here:
1st Round—defeated Alisa Kleybanova (87) 6-0, 6-2
2nd Round—defeated Heather Watson (92) 6-2, 6-4
3rd Round—defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor (55) 6-3, 6-0
How Stephens got here:
1st Round—defeated Shuai Peng (57) 6-4, 7-6(8)
2nd Round—defeated Polona Hercog (62) 6-1, 6-3
3rd Round—defeated 22-seed Ekaterina Makarova (23) 6-3, 6-4
This is an intriguing matchup. Simona Halep is still something of an unknown quantity among many tennis fans, but she’s the highest seed remaining in the draw and has skyrocketed up the rankings. Sloane Stephens is an up-and-down players, mainly up at the majors and down everywhere else. That’s the big X-factor: we’ve got evidence from the last two years that Sloane loves bringing her game to the majors, but Halep hasn’t really been able to win at majors other than her quarterfinal run at the Australian this year. Will the fourth seed go out in the fourth round, or will she seize a chance at becoming known to everyone?
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
(6) Jelena Jankovic vs (10) Sara Errani
Head-to-Head: Jankovic 1-2 Errani
Rankings: Jankovic 7, Errani 11
2014 Clay Court Record including 2014 French Open: Jankovic 14-5, Errani 15-4
How Jankovic got here:
1st Round—defeated Sharon Fichman (77) 5-7, 6-1, 6-3
2nd Round—defeated Kurumi Nara (44) 7-5, 6-0
3rd Round—defeated 26-seed Sorana Cirstea (26) 6-1, 6-2
How Errani got here:
1st Round—defeated Madison Keys (40) 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
2nd Round—defeated Dinah Pfizenmaier (90) 6-2, 6-4
3rd Round—defeated Julia Glushko (98) 6-0, 6-1
Other than Maria Sharapova, these two are probably the best clay courters remaining in the draw, or at least for this year they have been. The weird thing is that both of these players could have been out in the first round: Jankovic had to rally against the 77th-ranked player in the world, and Sara Errani got a tough test against the young American Madison Keys for two sets. This Round of 16 encounter is a rematch of the semifinal in Rome, where the Italian Sara Errani prevailed. I think the result is turned around here.
Prediction: Jankovic in three sets.
(28) Andrea Petkovic vs Kiki Bertens
Head-to-Head: First Meeting
Rankings: Petkovic 27, Bertens 148
2014 Clay Court Record including 2014 French Open: Petkovic 12-3 (1 title: Charleston), Bertens 14-5 (5-2 on ITF Circuit, 4-1 in Qualifiers)
How Petkovic got here:
1st Round—defeated Misaki Doi (97) 6-3, 6-3
2nd Round—defeated Stefanie Voegele (71) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
3rd Round—defeated Kristina Mladenovic (103) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
How Bertens got here:
1st Round—defeated Alexandra Cadantu (81) 7-6(5), 6-1
2nd Round—defeated 24-seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (25) 5-7, 6-4, 3-0 retired
3rd Round—defeated Silvia Soler-Espinosa (85) 6-2, 6-1
Since Li Na’s premature exit, Andrea Petkovic has been touted as the likely favorite of this section to reach the quarterfinals. She hasn’t exactly wowed with these expectations, needing three sets to take out both Stefanie Voegele and the surprise run of Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic. She takes on Kiki Bertens, a player who plays a style of game very similar to Mladenovic—hard and flat groundstrokes with little room for error. Given she’s gotten the practice for this type of game, Petkovic should advance.
Prediction: Petkovic in two sets.