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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

French Open: Halep, Ostapenko vs. Williams, Halep, Ostapenko vs. Konta

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The French Open has a history of favoring the home nations as teams struggle to lift their best in the form of Gael Monfils against Donald Young, Dominika Cibulkova against Kristina Mladenovic, while the men come out firing against the native pretenders and losers of the Grand Slam tournaments.

It seems that the winds are set to be blowing in favor of the favorites. Just ask their French tennis compatriots Marion Bartoli, who went on to win Wimbledon and, going for a double gold at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is only the third woman ever to win two majors in a season. Marion Bartoli in the final of Wimbledon 2015. Photo by NurPhoto/Getty Images

Should the conditions prove conducive to scoring lots of points at the net, as in the first three Grand Slam tournaments, first baseman Simona Halep will be favored to pull out the win in Paris. The other three semifinalists on the women’s side — Naomi Osaka, Johanna Konta and Kiki Bertens — are heavy-hitting enough to keep pace with the big guns but don’t have much experience beating the top players. The 32-year-old Dominika Cibulkova has been to three Grand Slam finals and has two slam semifinal wins to her name. Unfortunately for the Slovakian, she won’t be playing in any in Paris if she beats Wozniacki, while the best chances Konta can hope for in the finals against Williams and Halep reside at the quarterfinals.

Halep has won a significant amount of matches in a row this season as well, including one against Serena Williams in the French Open semifinals last year. Photo by M. J. Masotti/Southwest/LightRocket via Getty Images

More than ever, last month’s final in Beijing between Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko is a formidable opponent for any singles player hoping to advance into the semifinal round. Not only did they face off in that memorable final at the season’s first major, they remain good friends. They swapped bad blood for good fortunes, however, as Halep won 6-4, 6-4. In fact, her only losses in their career series happened in one-set wins, and were to Serena Williams in the French Open final in 2014 and Ostapenko in the French Open quarterfinals in 2017. So buckle up, 2018 isn’t going to be short on tension and drama for the French Open women’s final.

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