2018 Roland Garros (Mon, Tues) Round 1 Previews: Siniakova vs Azarenka, Muguruza vs Kuznetsova, Goerges vs Cibulkova, Bertens vs Sabalenka

The remaining of the matches from the bottom half of the draw Sunday’s play and the top half matches will commence on Monday and Tuesday. For a full tournament preview, click here. Read on for previews of four of my favourite round one clashes from Monday and Tuesday.

Roland Garros, Round 1

1. [3] Garbiñe Muguruza (No.3) vs Svetlana Kuznetsova (No.42)

Muguruza has been struggling with week-in-week-out consistency this whole season and on her preferred surface of clay, she has still been unable to produce good results so far. Three-set defeats to Daria Kasatkina in Madrid and Daria Gavrilova in Rome were disappointing, particularly the latter where she had a match point to convert. However we all know that Garbine always saves her best tennis for the Slams – will it happen this time as well?

2016 champion Muguruza will kick off her French Open campaign against 2009 RG champion, Kuznetsova. Just like the Spaniard, Kuznetsova has also struggled during the clay court swing (3-4 W-L record), but for other reasons, having went through wrist surgery earlier in the year.

Thoughts: Muguruza leads the head to head 5-1, and has won their past five meetings. Both players are low in confidence right now and I expect a nervy and close affair. Muguruza has reached the second week of the French Open every year since 2014 and I think she’ll come through in this one.

Final Prediction: Garbiñe Muguruza d. Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets

2. [11] Julia Goerges (No.11) vs Dominika Cibulkova (No.36)

In her 41st Grand Slam appearance, Goerges will try to make it to the quarterfinals of a Slam for the first time in her career. Unfortunately for the German, she had been dealt a tough draw and form suggests she might struggle in her opener. Injury forced her out of Rome and her latest venture on the tour was a disappointing three-set loss to Kristyna Pliskova in Nurnberg.

Cibulkova has been unable to play her best tennis over the season but she has managed to find her form during this week’s International event in Strasbourg. Cibulkova defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu in a typical Domi 2016 display in the semifinals before falling in a 3 hour and 35 minute battle to Pavlyuchenkova in the final.

Thoughts: Throughout this week, I was impressed with Cibulkova’s positivity to come forward and dictate more with her backhand wing. Also, Goerges seems to always have a mental block in the Slams. If Cibulkova isn’t too tired after her five matches in Strasbourg and stay mentally focused in the crucial moments, I think she can score the upset win.

Final Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova d. Julia Goerges in three sets

3. Katerina Siniakova (No.57) vs Victoria Azarenka (No.82)

I have seen Siniakova a couple of times during the clay court swing and while she has the game to do even better than what she is achieving right now, her mental fragility has let her down most of the time. Siniakova lost in the quarterfinals of Prague, first round in Madrid, qualifying in Rome and semifinals of Nurnberg so she has had a ton of matches on the clay.

Unlike Siniakova, Azarenka hasn’t had many competitive matches on the dirt – in Madrid she lost out to Karolina Pliskova in a competitive late night match, while in Rome she lost pretty comprehensively to Naomi Osaka in the first round. Azarenka has never been able to perform at her best level on this surface in her career, with a semifinal run in 2013 her best performance at the French Open.

Thoughts: This is a rough draw for Siniakova having not won a main draw match in her past three appearances at RG. However I do fancy Siniakova’s chances of making this competitive judging from Vika’s level on the clay this season. I think Siniakova can push Vika to a tight-two setter, as in the important moments the latter will probably come out trumps with her mental toughness.

Final Prediction: Victoria Azarenka d. Katerina Siniakova in two sets

4. [18] Kiki Bertens (No.18) vs Aryna Sabalenka (No.48)

This is one of my favourite match-ups from the lot. Former French Open semi finalist Kiki Bertens is one of the best players on the clay (No.2 in Clay Court Power rankings on the WTA website) and just like she has done the past two years, she has peaked during this part of the s season again. Bertens claimed the biggest title of her career in Charleston and backed it up with a final run in Madrid, beating the likes of Sharapova and Caroline Garcia along the way. Her opponent, talented 19-year-old Sabalenka is not at home on the surface but has shown she can still play well on the dirt after reaching the final in a damp and rainy week in Lugano.

Thoughts: Judging by form and surface, Bertens takes this, but the WTA is not that easy to predict! A peak Sabalenka can blow away any player off court, and if there’s someone who can hit through the heavy Paris clay, it’s her. I do think this will be a close one but Bertens’ better movement on this surface, coupled with her soaring confidence right now, will take the win.

Final Prediction: Kiki Bertens d. Aryna Sabalenka in three sets

Thanks for reading! Roland Garros predictions can be found here!


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