Iga Swiatek arrives at the French Open as the favorite – and so far, she looks dominating. While Saturday’s game against Montenegro Danka Kovinic Not going perfectly, Swiatek still easily progressed to the 4th round with a 6-3, 7-5 win for their 31st straight win.
And while Swiatek may not need any help, she got it: She’s the only top 10 player left in the draw. With the defending champion soon eliminated Barbora Krejcikova and former champion Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halepas well as top 10 players Paula Badosa, Ons Jabeur, Anett Kontaveit and Maria Sakkarimany of those who could have made it more difficult for her were out.
Of the remaining players, who is most likely to give Swiatek the biggest challenge?
Our experts have made their pick.
Pam Shriver: Swiatek’s greatest danger was to lose before the final to an opponent she was not familiar with, who could play her first tennis well from first point to last. Chinese star Zheng Qinwen, who beat former champion Roland Garros Halep in the second round, has enough strength and motivation to weather the big disappointment. Zheng has never played Swiatek, so there is no scar tissue. The dressing room would have noticed Swiatek’s erratic play in the second set against Kovinic. While Swiatek is the favorite to win her second Roland Garros championship, we know in the sport there was never an automatic.
Cliff Drysdale: Leylah Fernandez. She has the fortitude of youth and the same focus as Nadal. The point is, it can’t happen unless they’re both in the final.
D’Arcy Maine: I don’t see anyone giving Swiatek much of a challenge in Paris at this point. But tennis is never immune to surprises, so you never know, right? After watching how Jil Teichmann rally to come back against Victoria Azarenka In a three-plus hour thriller in the third round, it feels as if she’ll be up for any challenge. Teichmann is flourishing on clay, after reaching the semi-finals in Madrid and reaching the quarter-finals in Rome, and has recorded seven wins in the top 20 this season. Teichmann lost the only game of his career to Swiatek, in Adelaide in 2021, but has made significant progress since then and has probably never played better.
Bill Connelly: From the simple perspective of who is playing really well right now, Anisimova and Coco Gauff are both players to watch. Anisimova is 13-3 on clay this year and sweep Naomi Osaka and Donna Vekic before resting with a snake bite Karolina Muchovaretired due to injury in the third set on Friday. Gauff, meanwhile, only went to Paris 4-3 on clay this year, but she has played against two top 60 players in three matches and has yet to drop a set.
Every time a likely candidate shows up, she quickly succumbs to discomfort, so we’ll see if these two young Americans can keep things going for another week. (And if they can carry on, we’ll see if they can make a dent in Swiatek’s armor.) But so far, so good.
Tom Hamilton: The good news for Swiatek is that, among the many great things about her tennis at the moment, the last player to beat her is now out of the French Open. Jelena Ostapenkowill be leaving on Thursday. But she’s in the area where you can’t imagine her being afraid of anyone in world tennis.
If I had to choose someone, I would Amanda Anisimovawho is playing some excellent tennis here.
Simon Cambers: It’s hard to see her getting beaten up. She just has an incredible atmosphere about her right now. She’s beating the players the way Steffi Graf used to, brutally. If she gets checked, she simply steps up her game and obliterates her opponents. She’s vastly improved parts of her game and her shots are heavier, not to mention the confidence that all those wins have given her.
But, maybe someone like a Sloane Stephens could give her some problems. Someone who can handle pressure, who moves well, and who can force Swiatek to slide and possibly panic as a result. Or maybe it was Fernandez, who had a very impressive confrontation Belinda Bencic. But it was a long shot.
Aishwarya Kumar: I’ll go with Stephens. She is a finalist of the French Open 2018. She is a Grand Slam winner (US Open 2017). She knows how to handle moments that matter and is good – especially when not focusing on her. And she is an unknown entity to Swiatek, who has never faced her in his career. Plus, let’s not forget that Stephens’ final draw is looking more and more open to seeded players like Angelique KerberSakkari and Bencic were eliminated in the previous rounds.