FRENCH OPEN 2021: Serena back after injury; Swiatek defends

Women to watch at the French Open, which starts Sunday in Paris:

___

ASH BARTY

Ranked: 1

Country: Australia

Age: 25

2021 Match Record: 27-5

2021 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 11

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2019)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-Did Not Play, 2019-Won Championship, 2018-Lost in 2nd Round, 2017-Lost in 1st Round, 2016-Did Not Play

Aces: Did not try to defend her 2019 championship in Paris last year, staying home in Australia because of the coronavirus pandemic. … Stopped during a match at the Italian Open this month because of a right arm issue.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 17-year-old American Coco Gauff in the fourth round.

Words: “It’s important to play the points in the right way, regardless of the score and also regardless of the result.” — Barty.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 5-1

—-

NAOMI OSAKA

Ranked: 2

Country: Japan

Age: 23

2021 Match Record: 13-3

2021 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 7

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 — Australian Open (2: 2019, 2021), U.S. Open (2: 2018, 2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-DNP, 2019-3rd, 2018-3rd, 2017-1st, 2016-3rd

Aces: Says she won’t participate in news conferences at Roland Garros. … 2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year. … All of her Grand Slam titles have come on hard courts. … Sat out last year’s French Open after winning the U.S. Open while dealing with a hamstring issue.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova or 2016 semifinalist Kiki Bertens in the fourth round.

Words: “I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.” — Osaka.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 17-1

—-

SOFIA KENIN

Ranked: 5

Country: United States

Age: 22

2021 Match Record: 7-8

2021 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 5

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — Australian Open (2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-Runner-Up, 2019-4th, 2018-1st, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP

Aces: Entered Paris last year coming off a 6-0, 6-0 loss in Rome in her only tuneup match and went all the way to the final, her first on red clay at tour level. … Announced in May she no longer would be coached by her father, Alex.

Matchup to Watch For: Faces 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the first round.

Words: “We both kind of agreed that it was time to part ways.” — Kenin, on the coaching change.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 55-1

—-

SERENA WILLIAMS

Ranked: 8

Country: United States

Age: 39

2021 Match Record: 9-3

2021 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 73

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 23 — French Open (3: 2002, 2013, 2015), Australian Open (7: 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017), Wimbledon (7: 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), U.S. Open (6: 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-2nd, 2019-3rd, 2018-4th, 2017-DNP, 2016-RU

Aces: Withdrew from French Open last year before second round because an Achilles injury. … Went nearly three full months without competing after semifinal loss to Osaka at Australian Open. … Lost opener in return at Rome in May, then took a wild-card entry for a small tournament in Parma, Italy, to get more work on red clay and went 1-1 there. … 76-1 in first-round Slam matches; lost in Paris in 2012. … Holds record for most major singles titles in the professional era; one more would equal Margaret Court for most in tennis history.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face three-time major champion and former No. 1 Angelique Kerber in the third round.

Words: “I was meant to be Serena and I didn’t know that I was meant to be Serena. But I embrace it and I love it and I work hard for it. I work hard to carry that name because it takes a lot of work — on the court, off the court, mentally — in everything that I do.” — Williams.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 21-1

—-

IGA SWIATEK

Ranked: 9

Country: Poland

Age: 19 (Turns 20 on Monday)

2021 Match Record: 19-5

2021 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 3

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-W, 2019-4th, 2018-DNP, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP

Aces: Entered last year’s French Open ranked 54th, without a tour-level title of any sort and never having been past the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament — then won the championship without dropping a set along the way. … Tuned up this time by winning clay-court title in Rome.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 2016 champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the fourth round.

Words: “It’s not easy to be a defending champion. I’m just happy that I’m in a situation like that. I can enjoy being there, just being in Paris, because I love playing there. ” — Swiatek.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 14-5

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

___

More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

Asia News | Sports | World News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up