You can talk about the players who have been upset in the women’s singles draw at Roland Garros 2014. You can miss the presence of Serena Williams, Li Na and/or Agnieszka Radwanska. But whatever you do, don’t call the women’s quarterfinalists at the year’s second Major flukes or undeserving. They are far from that. If the only player you have heard of is Serena Williams, that’s fine. However, you haven’t been paying attention to women’s tennis in 2014. Simona Halep, Sara Errani, Andrea Petkovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova all won their fourth round matches to join Maria Sharapova, Carla Suarez Navarrro, Eugenie Bouchard and Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals. Save for Masha, those other names might surprise mainstream sports fans. But 6 of those 8 quarterfinalists have won a title in 2014: Maria Sharapova (Stuttgart, Madrid), Garbine Muguruza (Hobart), Simona Halep (Doha), Andrea Petkovic (Charleston),Carla Suarez Navarro (Oeiras) and Eugenie Bouchard (Nuremburg). 4 of the 8 have finished runner-up in singles events: Sara Errani (Paris-Open GDF Suez, Rome), Garbine Muguruza (Florianopolis), Svetlana Kuznetsova (Oeiras)and Simona Halep (Madrid). Put those two lists together and all of them have either won a final, finished runner-up or both. Forget where they’re seeded. They are legit.
Simona Halep took out Sloane Stephens, 6-4 6-3. Sloane is an up and coming player. But she is also the highest ranked player currently without a WTA title. She hasn’t even reached a final. She’s talented, but the next step needs to be taken. I have no doubt that in time she will. But for now, Simona is just a more complete player. She is solid defensively. She changes direction on the ball extremely well. She finds sharp angles. I’ve said that in some ways she reminds me of a smaller version of Kim Clijsters. We’ll see if she has the Major success in her career that Kim did. She’ll get a big test in the quarters against 2-time Major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won Roland Garros in 2009. The other bottom half quarterfinal will pit Andrea Petkovic, who squeaked by Kiki Bertens 1-6 6-2 7-5, against former Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani, who defeated Jelena Jankovic, 7-6 (5) 6-2. This is the point in a tennis Major where things get real. It’s like a new tournament with twice the pressure. These players are 2 wins away from a Major final, 3 wins away from a Major title. Only Masha and Svetlana have Major titles in singles. For the others, careers could change. Lives could change. Game on.
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4 SIMONA HALEP (won 6-4 6-3 vs 15 Sloane Stephens)
10 SARA ERRANI (won 7-6 (5) 6-2 vs 6 Jelena Jankovic)
27 SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA (won 6-3 6-4 vs 23 Lucie Safarova)
28 ANDREA PETKOVIC (won 1-6 6-2 7-5 vs Kiki Bertens)