When the women’s singles draw for Roland Garros 2014 came out, one potential marquee match-up was a third round continuation of the sisters series between Serena and Venus Williams. While Venus possibly getting upset along the way wouldn’t have been a shock, Serena not making it would be. Both being shown the exit was unthinkable. Well, think again. Venus lost to Anna Schmiedlova, after squandering an early match advantage. But the result that sent shockwaves through the women’s draw was Garbine Muguruza rolling through Serena, 6-2 6-2. I’ve featured Garbine on my blog, particularly when she won the title in Hobart early this year. But to most of the mainstream sports world, she was probably an unknown. At least for today, they now know her name. Some are making excuses for Serena, speaking of her boatload of unforced errors. Sure, but some of that was because she was pressing trying to find a way to counter what Garbine was doing. Muguruza was hitting hard down the center of the court, reducing the angles Serena could generate. That also lessened the degree to which Serena could get Garbine on the run and open the court. It was a brilliant strategy. The announcers rightly pointed out that Ana Ivanovic employed similar strategies in beating Serena at the Australian Open this year. Did Ana give the rest of the tour a blueprint? We’ll see. Serena still has 3 titles so far this year and we’re not even at the halfway point. However, she also has losses now to Ivanovic, Muguruza, Alize Cornet and Jana Cepelova.
With Serena and Li Na departed, both former champions, who are the favorites now? I look at a players like Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep as having the chance to win their first Major. I wonder if youngsters like Muguruza or Bouchard have enough magic to make a run all the way to the title. But mostly I look to two former champions, Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova. Both have two titles on tour this year so far. Masha’s two titles were both on clay. And let’s be frank. Although they would deny it, with Serena and Li Na out, somewhere the tournament officials are lighting a candle and praying for a Sharapova vs Ivanovic final. There’s a long way to go for that to happen, especially since we’ve seen how the mighty keep falling in Paris.
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GARBINE MUGURUZA (won 6-2 6-2 vs 1 Serena Williams)
7 MARIA SHARAPOVA (won 7-5 6-2 vs Tsvetana Pironkova)
8 ANGELIQUE KERBER (won 6-2 7-5 vs Varvara Lepchenko)
9 DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA (won 6-3 6-4 vs Tamira Paszek)
JOHANNA LARSSON (won 5-7 6-4 6-2 vs 12 Flavia Pennetta)
14 CARLA SUAREZ NAVARRO (won 7-5 1-6 6-4 vs Timea Bacsinszky)
18 EUGENIE BOUCHARD (won 2-6 6-2 6-1 vs Julia Goerges)