The French Open is upon us and as always the Parisian clay promises to serve up a number of shocks in the women’s draw.
Serena Williams’ absence has seemingly thrown the tournament wide open and there are a host of potential candidates who could emerge victorious at Roland Garros.
Romania’s Simona Halep is the 33/10 favourite and reached the final of this event back in 2014.
Other than that she has failed to make it past the fourth round but her game seems well suited to clay and Williams’ absence could be what she needs to finally break her Grand Slam duck.
Defending champion Garbine Muguruza is third in the betting at 9/1 but there are significant injury worries over her chances, having been forced to retire hurt for the fourth time this season last week in Rome.
The player that benefited from her latest withdrawal was 7/1 Elina Svitolina and she took advantage by beating Halep to win in the Italian capital. Svitolina reached the quarter-finals in 2015 and her form suggests she could go further this time around.
As a former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova is also an interesting proposition at 14/1 but her inconsistency has been frustrating, with her best result coming in the form of a last four outing in Madrid.
She went out to Kristina Mladenovic on that occasion and the Frenchwoman is 11/1 to become the first home winner since Mary Pierce in 2000.
World number one Angelique Kerber will also have been boosted by Serena’s absence but her form this year has been relatively poor and 18/1 perhaps demonstrates the opinion that clay is her weakest surface.
Those eyeing some extra value may care to look at Venus Williams who lost to her sister in the final of the Australian Open back in January.
The American was a finalist in 2002 and with her health issues seemingly under control, looks an excellent price at 28/1.
Finally and from a neutral’s point of view, it would be wrong not to mention Petra Kvitova at 40/1.
The Czech player is due to make a late call on her participation, having not played competitively since being attacked in her home before Christmas.
Despite being stabbed by an intruder, the two-time Wimbledon champion is making good progress in her recovery and what a story it would be if she came back to glory.
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