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Sports News

Penpix of the top women's contenders at the French Open

(Reuters) - Penpix of the top women’s contenders at the 2020 French Open (prefix denotes seeding):

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - WTA Premier 5 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - September 20, 2020 Romania's Simona Halep in action during her semi final match against Spain's Garbine Muguruza Pool via REUTERS//Riccardo Antimiani/File Photo

1-Simona Halep (Romania)

World ranking: 2

Born: Sept. 27, 1991 (Age: 28)

Grand Slam titles: 2 (French Open 2018; Wimbledon 2019)

Best Roland Garros performance: Winner (2018)

WTA career titles: 22

Having won two claycourt titles in as many months at Prague and Rome, Halep, who skipped the hardcourt tournaments in the U.S., has momentum going into Roland Garros.

Halep has only dropped three sets in 10 matches since tennis resumed after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the diminutive counter-puncher looked fitter and more at ease than her opponents on clay in Rome.

With defending champion Ash Barty and U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka skipping the French Open, her path to a third Grand Slam title looks easier.

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2-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)

World ranking: 4

Born: March 21, 1992 (Age: 28)

Grand Slam titles: 0

Best Roland Garros performance: Semi-final (2017)

WTA career titles: 16

Pliskova had a poor return to the tour on the hard courts in New York and getting knocked out of the U.S. Open in the second round as the top seed would have stung the former world number one.

However, she turned things around on clay in Rome as she battled her way into the final before a niggling injury prevented her from defending her title and giving Halep a fair contest, retiring from a match for the first time in her career.

The Czech’s greatest strengths are her serve, having won more than 81% of her service games this year, and her groundstrokes.

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6-Serena Williams (U.S.)

World ranking: 9

Born: Sept. 26, 1981 (Age: 38)

Grand Slam titles: 23 (Australian Open 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017; French Open 2002, 2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016; U.S. Open 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)

WTA career titles: 73

Time is running out for Williams to clinch a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title and the former world number one arrives at her least favourite hunting ground without any practice on clay.

After her U.S. Open semi-final exit, the American withdrew from last week’s Italian Open citing an Achilles problem and it remains to be seen if that will hamper her at Roland Garros.

Williams last won a Grand Slam in 2017, losing her last four major finals in straight sets, and she has not won at Roland Garros since 2015.

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10-Victoria Azarenka (Belarus)

World ranking: 14

Born: July 31, 1989 (Age: 31)

Grand Slam titles: 2 (Australian Open 2012, 2013)

WTA career titles: 21

Not many fancied Azarenka to be the player to beat after the Tour restarted but the Belarusian has already reached two finals in New York before making a quarter-final run in Rome just days later.

Having used meditation techniques to channel her energy, Azarenka has seemingly put her injuries and a custody battle over her son Leo behind her to return to striking the ball with vengeance.

She reminded opponents how dominant she can be when she double bagelled Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in Rome with a flawless display.

With only three losses since the season resumed, she will count on her consistency to mount a title challenge.

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11-Garbine Muguruza (Spain)

World ranking: 15

Born: Oct. 8, 1993 (Age: 26)

Grand Slam titles: 2 (French Open 2016; Wimbledon 2017)

WTA career titles: 7

Muguruza returns to the venue of her maiden Grand Slam win after an impressive semi-final run in Rome where she showed her game is best suited to clay.

With an explosive serve that has allowed her to fire 145 aces this year, the imposing six-footer is not easy to break and she has also improved her game at the net.

However, she is prone to errors with her high-risk, high-reward style of play and can let the match slip out of her grasp when things do not go her way.

Compiled by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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