May 30, 2021

2021 Roland Garros WTA Round One

WTA Singles Writeup below, also :
Hurry up to join the Pick The Draw competitions for Roland Garros men’s and women’s tournaments! Registration closes Monday, 11:00 am CET
Barty vs Pera :

Tricky openers are Barty’s favorite, so she won’t mind opening up against the aggressive American here. Given Pera’s decent showing in Rome and her successes this season, she’ll be a bit disappointed to have drawn the one seed. Her undoing has been errors for as long as she’s been on tour, but she’s been way more consistent lately and has won some solid matches against Samsonova, Martic, and Zidansek. Barty didn’t really look great in her last withdrawal against Gauff, but she didn’t seem injured either. She should be fine here, and has been the most consistent player on tour this year. Clay is a great place for her to add another major, and even as the 1 seed the pressure will be off a bit with Serena and Osaka getting more media attention. Barty in 2.

Linette vs Pacquet :

Chloe Pacquet has a very interesting game, and gets to net very efficiently. Serve and volley is a bit lost on the WTA but can be very effective. Pacquet lacks power, and that is usually her undoing. When she’s unable to get to the net, she looks a bit pressed at the baseline, and tends to get to the ball at the last second when she’s stretched from side to side. Linette played well last week, and Pacquet hasn’t won many matches. They played to 3 sets in 2019, but Linette has made more strides in her career, and is playing a bit better than Pacquet at the moment. Linette in 2.

Bara vs Sharma :

Irina Bara plays well on clay, but seems to do her best work at the French. Last year she was able to qualify and win a few rounds behind her consistent play. She’s a bit like Diego Schwartzman in that she won’t overwhelm anyone with power but continues to apply pressure by not missing. It’s a risky recipe but the right one against Astra Sharma, who tends to spray the ball wildly on every other rally. Her results are great considering how inconsistent she plays, and it feels a bit like her actual level if she were consistent would be at the top tier considering how often her B game has gotten her near the finish line. Inconsistent offense vs inefficient defense should make for a fun match. I expect Bara to be able to keep things going long enough to expose Sharma’s backhand, which tends to decelerate badly as things get tough. Bara in 3.

Putintseva vs Jabeur :

Putintseva can’t seem to win much on clay despite being one of the better baseliners on tour. The outlast strategy seems to fall by the wayside when the ball isn’t moving through the court. Her opponents seem less inclined to go for big offense and the resulting consistency means Putintseva tends to start forcing things. Her losses have come against players with power like Linette and Konjuh, so Jabeur is likely to prove difficult as well. Jabeur has a huge serve, excellent feel on her dropshots, and a bomb of a forehand. Clay suits her, and she’s made enough deep runs at majors to feel comfortable at this point. Putintseva will make things tiring, but she hasn’t shown she can unravel an offense on clay the same as she can on hardcourt. Jabeur in 2.

Gauff vs Krunic :

Nice to see Krunic get through qualifying, as she was on tour just a few seasons ago and certainly has the quality to win. Tough first round draw, as Gauff is coming off the first week this year that she looked to be at her peak. Krunic’s run seems very likely to end here. Gauff has more power, better defending, and is riding high after her title win. Gauff in two.

Wang vs Hsieh :

Wang has lost most of the matchups between these two, but her performance last week was her best tennis, and with a new coach in her box in the form of Pat Cash, it seems that she’s going to find her best tennis again. Playing “my best tennis” seems to be what most of the athletes parrot in their interviews, so this is good news. Hsieh can pretty much hit any shot you can imagine, but she goes through difficult patches with her game, and struggles a bit with power on the slower surfaces. Wang should get by here. Wang in 2.

Liang vs Ferro :

This is more interesting than the -700 price tag attached to Ferro. Fiona Ferro is a very talented player. Clay is her best surface. France is her home. Her game is capable of beating anyone on tour for a set, but two sets in a row has proven to be the issue. She plays composed tennis, but tends to make margins very small at times, and this means 0-40 service games can occur randomly and also that her confidence can disappear. When it does, she tends to try to find a more secure range for her shots, and this results in deceleration and general inefficient play since she doesn’t go for much. When you’re trying to work the point, it goes well. When you’re trying to work the point safely because you’ve been missing, it tends to go well and then when you finally find your opening, you take a big ol composed swing and push the ball long or wide. Liang seems like she’s working her way up the rankings well here, and although she had one of the easier draws, she performed well in qualifying. Her quality will fit into the gaps left by Ferro’s offense nicely, but the upset may be out of the question if Ferro plays to her ability. Ferro in 2.

Sevastova vs Brady :

Hard to think of a better roommate pairing for the tour. Sevastova gets upset at her box if anything occurs at all at any point ever; if it does not occur, this is also bad Brady wills herself to grin for no reason in difficult moments, and has done so for so long that I almost believe she genuinely enjoys adversity at this point. Oddsmakers are hedging against Sevastova’s quality play from the baseline by making this a pickem, and she certainly is the more accomplished player on clay. Brady’s athleticism is a great equalizer though, and her hitting is not as sharp on clay but her power is a small edge. In looking at this, I know that Sevastova’s attitude issues make me a bit biased to cheer against her, and so rather than paint Brady as the favorite here, I’ll say that I think it will be close no matter who wins. Sevastova in 3.

Pliskova Ka. vs Vekic :

Pliskova almost won Rome, but Swiatek’s power and defending made her mobility deficiencies the main theme in the finals. She’s become a bit like Venus Williams, not in level or fitness but in the formula to beating her being to move her laterally. It makes it even more impressive when she’s able to win on dirt like she was in Rome. This would be a very unlucky opener, but Vekic hasn’t played a match since the Australian Open and is returning from knee surgery. I don’t think she’d come back before she was physically ready, but there’s no replacement for matchplay. Vekic is a dangerous question mark since her power is good enough to hurt Pliskova if she’s fit, but the most likely outcome here is Pliskova in 2 and a handful of first round losses for Vekic for the next few weeks.

Suarez Navarro vs Stephens :

Suarez Navarro announced she was cancer-free this year and is returning to competition. It’ll be cool to see one of the smoothest backhands out there again, and even cooler is watching Sloane Stephens actually play well. She’s been particularly inspired the past few events and has the power to hit through a claycourt which is extremely valuable. She also has the error prone-ways that would allow Carla to return to the tour with a win, but it’s more likely that Suarez Navarro will take a few tournaments to find her form again. Stephens in 2.

Lepchenko vs Zhang :

If you told me Lepchenko was going to roll through RG qualifying, I’d have argued pretty hard. She played incredible though, and beating Rakhimova is impressive enough but following it up with straight set wins against Friedsam and Barthel is indicative of a level she’s likely to carry through to the first round. Zhang has been in a bit of slump, losing most of her clay matches in straight sets. Lepchenko lost their previous meeting on clay at RG in 2019, but the hard-working lefty seems to have the better form heading into this one. Lepchenko in 3.

Petkovic vs Muchova :

Andrea Petkovic is making good use of her protected ranking, but not getting much luck in the draw here. Karolina Muchova is one of the better players on clay, and is having her best year ever on the WTA tour. Muchova in 2.

Alexandrova vs Williams V. :

Alexandrova’s offense is the exact recipe to beat Venus Williams. Venus started to hit very well in her last outting, and still lost in a lopsided match to Cirstea (6-1, 2-6, 6-1). It isn’t that she isn’t dangerous anymore, but that she can’t outcompete her limitations. Alexandrova in 2.

Krejcikova vs Pliskova Kr. :

Pliskova hasn’t won a match this year, so there’s that in play. A good motivation, but a bad time to get inspired as Krejcikova just won a title this past week in Strasbourg. She’s likely to play well here for at least a few rounds, as the finals was not too intensive. Krejcikova in 2.

Li vs Gasparyan :

Ann Li hasn’t played since Monterrey, and Gasparyan hasn’t really won a match despite competing in a lot of clay events. It’s a tough call but Li’s pace and movement should line up the same as the other opponents Gasparyan has lost to. Might take her a while to find her form. Li in 3.

Babel vs Svitolina :

We all know junior phenom Oceane Babel, but who is this Elina Svitolina person? Sources close to her tell me she is a professional tennis player, but can these sources be trusted? To find out, I had a team of private investigators follow them for a week and report back. They indicated that they felt they were credible, but can the investigators be trusted? You see where I’m going with this. I’m not sure I do though. Svitolina in 2.

Kenin vs Ostapenko :

Hehe. Gonna be a lotttttttt of ambitious storming around and marching in this one. These two walk like they’re always going uphill, and I find it very fun. Ostapenko has been resurgent this clay swing, finding good ratios of winners to errors and a handful of good wins against Konta, Kerber, and Tomljanovic (lol). Kenin as a dog here makes sense, since she’s lost every match she’s played on clay, but her backhand and ability to play her best in majors means you can’t count her out of this. Why go against form and recent history though? (Ostapenko won their previous meeting on clay) Ostapenko is a hard sell for me because Kenin is such a good mover and an adept problem solver, but she’s a tiny favorite here. Someone marching confidently in 3.

Baptiste vs Blinkova :

Hailey Baptiste isn’t getting as much press as some of the other junior standouts, but she has the potential to be very very good. Her movement is solid, and her power is easily produced. She was struggling pretty bad against Grabher at times in the qualifier finals, but managed to turn things around. It’s the sort of win that may not define a career, but bolsters ones confidence going forward. Blinkova’s return to the tour has left something to be desired, as her fitness isn’t top notch just yet. It’s a prime spot for Baptiste to make her way onto the tour with a very financially lucrative win, but as well as she plays it feels like a “when” rather than an “if”. Baptiste in 3.

Martincova vs Jorovic :

Martincova seems like she’s not going to win a match on clay this year, but Jorovic hasn’t really notched too many wins either. Martincova won their previous meeting, and should win this one. Martincova in 3.

Zhu vs Pegula :

Lin Zhu hasn’t played tennis in a few months, and Pegula’s struggles on clay only cut her to about 80% of her ability. Pegula won in 2 on clay in their previous meeting in 2015, and is likely to make this a quinquennial tradition.

Sakkari vs Zavatska :

Zavatska played great in the qualifiers, besting “All Gasanova, No Breaks” in the finals. I was hoping she’d land in a softer section of the draw, but she’s drawn the granite idol herself. Sakkari is still my prediction for the next #1 on tour, and clay is a likely place for her to grab some more points. Her defense is good enough to negate Zavatska’s solid play, and her only real liability at this point is that her serve seems to go away at times. Sakkari in 3.

Paolini vs Voegele :

Jasmine Paolini and Voegele have had very similar seasons, with some hard fought wins and some good quality mixed in with some quick lopsided losses. These two should be well matched up, and I’d be doing some storytelling if I could tell you who won. Someone in 3 (slight lean to Paolini since Voegele has played 3 extra matches and lost a few matches to players Paolini has beaten (most notably Stojanovic).

Watson vs Diyas :

Watson is an adept server, but clay really holds her back. Diyas is an efficient pusher, but lacks the offensive punch to really dominate a match. She should have a small edge, but is unlikely to win if this goes to 3. Diyas in 2.

Sanders vs Mertens :

Another troubling draw. Storm Sanders is one of my favorite players of 2021, and any left-hander on the women’s tour is very exciting since they tend not to have generic play like the lefties on the men’s tour do. Sanders is likely to get into the top 50-100 by years end, but for now she will have a tough time hitting through Elise Mertens. Mertens in 2 close sets.

Muguruza vs Kostyuk :

Kostyuk has failed to live up to the hype a few times, but her talent cannot be denied. She has a great deal of power and a good serve, but this is a baaaaaad draw. Muguruza has taken some time off, but prior to that she played pretty much every single event available and did well in all of them. Very few players have more wins on tour this year than her, and she’s likely to add another here. Muguruza in 2.

Zheng vs Sorribes Tormo :

Saisai Zheng likes to extend rallies and play a lot of slices on her backhand and loopy forehands to earn errors. Remind you of anyone? At this point in the season, Zheng reminds me of a tiny version of Tormo, and the results are in the same ratio. Sorribes Tormo may take a long time to win this, but she should have a bit more power and a slight edge in the service department. Sorribes Tormo in 2.

Arruabarrena vs Gracheva :

Tough one to look at objectively. Arruabarrena has been winning a ton of matches but did see herself fall off the tour. In that time, Gracheva earned her way on the tour but has been losing lately. The question of form vs quality of opponent is always a bit of a mystery, and I’m excited to see how this one plays out. Lara is the specialist here, so I’ll lean towards her if I have to choose a side. Arruabarrena in 3.

Giorgi vs Martic :

Camila Giorgi isn’t doing a ton of winning in the clay swing, and Martic was about to join her prior to a good run in Parma last week. Petra has the same offensive prowess at Giorgi, but is significantly more consistent. The player who makes fewer errors wins most matches, but here it is really about who can ply their craft and keep control of rallies while tempering their aggression. That really describes Martic perfectly, so I think she’ll win here. Martic in 2.

Kontaveit vs Golubic :

Kontaveit is a clear favorite in most matches she heads into, but here she faces one of the better unsung talents on tour. Golubic recently won something like 10 matches in a row on clay, and although these were not at tour events, the quality of her play is undeniable. The best one-handed backhand on tour, and the sort of game that translates well to competing against the best opponents will go up against one of the biggest hitters on tour. Kontaveit is very much like Mertens in that she’s in that top tier of players who don’t have a major. This will be a big win for either player, and the kind of quality first round that can see these players through a few rounds. I almost expect the upset. Golubic in 3.

Schmiedlova vs Mladenovic :

The real fun is the friends you make along the way! Schmiedlova is through qualifying, and has a winnable match here. Despite playing at home, and being talented enough to win on any surface, Mladenovic has a handful of wins and a handful of losses. Schmiedlova has come through qualifying playing solid ball, and Mladenovic may not be able to play her best game with the long rallies that Schmiedlova’s big hitting from deepcourt tend to create. Schmiedlova in 3.

Peterson vs Rogers :

Rogers seems like she’s very well suited to winning on clay, but her season has gone poorly. Sometimes the wrong draws can just sideline you, but sometimes players breakout performances on a surface can be more about their opponents struggling to learn their games than about conditions suiting them. Peterson seems at times like she’ll fall off the tour, but when she plays other baseliners she’s able to notch wins at a pretty good clip. She’s come through qualifying here and is the sharper of the two. Rogers has a big edge in power but errors may cost her this. It’ll be a good test to see if she’s going to make a deep run, as Peterson is probably one of the better qualifiers. Peterson in 3.

Juvan vs Swiatek :

Kaja Juvan can definitely ball on clay, but Swiatek is on a whole ‘nother level from everyone on tour right now. Her pace is good enough to win on it’s own but her forehand and backhand motions are also very hard to read which means that you cannot really defend against her if you’re giving her time. Juvan is unlikely to take enough time away. Swiatek in 2.

Begu vs Williams S. :

Serena Williams is hard to pick against, and I don’t want to do it here either. Begu is capable of winning games against the Williams serve as she hits very big herself and always has stretches of games where she plays her peak tennis, but errors can creep in and her movement is a bit worse than it should be to really beat Serena in rallies. Serena looked less than stellar in her early clay outtings, but should get by here. Williams in 3.

Rus vs Buzarnescu :

The worst part about tennis announcers is they make up their own pet names for the players and I’ve had “Buz Cruise” stuck in my head thanks to one of the Tennis Channel geniuses for quite some time. Mihaela is playing under a protected ranking, and has drawn a tough but winnable match. Buzarenescu lacks power, but plays very consistent tennis at times and wins basically by forcing her opponents into errors. It’s a similar strategy to Putintseva or Bara, but since she’s lefty it’s a bit craftier as even her defensive offerings are sent to her opponents backhand. Rus has been winning a bunch of matches recently, including a solid run at an ITF 60k event. Lots of tennis and a consistent manner of winning are good recipes to beat a player struggling to find form. Being lefty helps as well in dealing with Buzarnescu’s patterns. Rus in 3.

Collins vs Wang :

Collins is recovering from an abdominal surgery, and although she reported that she feels good, this may take a while to see her back to her best form. It’s anecdotal, but many athletes tend to feel they are at their best after a surgery, but it’s more that they know it’s their current peak. We adjust quickly to our current conditions/abilities, so I’m hesitant to expect a lot of Collins. I’m glad she’s healthy, and Wang has a great chance here to beat a very dangerous name in the draw. Wang in 2-3.

Kalinina vs Kerber :

A match Kerber should definitely win, but one she likely won’t. Kerber is still a threat in any match on tour, but doesn’t seem committed to doing the work to win all the time. She’s a bit like Wawrinka in that she’s willing to just heat-check herself from any position on the court, and it results in errors and losses against weaker players. Kalinina is literally on a 13 match win streak, and it’s hard to not see it becoming 14 here. Kalinina in 2.

Rybakina vs Jacquemot :

Good opportunity for Jacquemot to play in a major, but there’s not a lot of evidence to show her beating Rybakina. Rybakina in 2.

Hibino vs Stojanovic :

Long rallies and frequent breaks of serve are likely here. Neither one should be able to hit through the other, but Stojanovic is a very fast starter and hits a bit bigger which may net her the first set and the match. Stojanovic in 3.

Vesnina vs Govortsova :

A lucky loser spot at a major is a 60k stroke of luck, so this is great for Govortsova. It’s great for Vesnina also, as she isn’t likely to fare so well against many other players in the draw right now. Vesnina hasn’t won yet in her return to clay, and although Govortsova is a cut below Vesnina’s true peak on tour, she’s in better form currently. Govortsova in 3.

Minnen vs Kvitova :

These two met previously, and Minnen had a great surge in the second set but ultimately is just a smaller version of Kvitova. Minnen has good serves and a solid forehand, but is just a bit outmatched in the power department. Kvitova in 2.

Azarenka vs Kuznetsova :

Azarenka has a lower back injury. Kuznetsova has a hamstring injury. Neither have played much tennis recently, but Azarenka has a pretty solid lead in the H2H and is a bit better if they both peak. I expect some struggles as this one goes on, but Azarenka in 2.

Tauson vs Gorgodze :

Tauson is a future top 10 player, but the coronation will have to depend on matches like this one. Gorgodze is playing great ball right now and won some solid matches in qualifying to get here. Parizas-Diaz and Zarazua are the sort of wins you’d expect Tauson to win, but matches she can lose also at this early stage of her career. This should be closer than the prices indicate, but Tauson (if she plays freely) should get the edge in the end. Tauson in 3.

Fernandez vs Potapova :

Fernandez hasn’t really crushed it on clay in the past month or so, and Potapova has done the same thing. Everybody makes mistakes, but it makes it very tough to see an edge between the two. Fernandez has a better year overall, but Potapova has been getting the nod from the oddsmakers for a few weeks already, so it would seem they expect her to overcome the ranking differential here. I don’t think she will. Fernandez in 3.

Dodin vs Keys :

Keys makes Dodin look consistent, which is saying a bit. Keys can always win a match in 15 minutes, but she can lose one in the same period. I know Dodin doesn’t have a lot of wins of this caliber, but this is likely to be a shootout as both possess great power and no interest in playing it safe. Dodin in 3.

Pavlyuchenkova vs McHale :

McHale is not the clay expert that Pavs can be, and Pavs is unlikely to give up many errors. Pavs in 2.

Kozlova vs Tomljanovic :

Kozlova managed to push Barty to the limit, but she’s arriving late to the Tomljanovic party. A while ago, Ajla was giving out wins left and right, but it appears she’s righted the ship. A few early round wins go a long way on the tour, and she’ll be the more confident player here. Tomljanovic in 3.

Parry vs Sasnovich :

Diane Parry deserves a wildcard here, and maybe an easier draw than this would be nice. Sasnovich always plays fairly well, but clay gives her a little extra time to move the ball around and her accuracy is always her strong point. Sasnovich in 2.

Konjuh vs Sabalenka :

This is probably the best match in the first round. Ana Konjuh has been on fire of late, crushing the ball on both wings and serving pretty well in key moments. It’s almost like watching a miniature version of Sabalenka’s current gameplan. Sabalenka is -1000 for this one, which is nuts. Konjuh has won 9 of her last 10 and hits huge during the rallies. Sabalenka should win, but I think that the first round of a major against a sharp qualifier is a really tough spot to perform. Sabalenka in 3, but if she can beat Konjuh in two it’ll be a very scary performance.

Andreescu vs Zidansek :

Andreescu is not quite back to form, and Zidansek is on her best surface. This should be a good contest, but Zidansek has a unique disadvantage of being the lesser known name and also being the favorite. It’s hard to expect the underdog to also be a favorite, and I’m not even sure at this point who I expect to win. Andreescu just hasn’t played enough, and a withdrawal in her last outting make me think she will struggle with errors here. Zidansek via withdrawal.

Brengle vs Osorio Serrano :

Osorio Serrano is one of the best clay specialists I’ve seen in a while. I’m loving this section of the draw for her and expect her to win at least two rounds. Brengle is pretty cool, but nah. Osorio Serrano in 2.

Bouzkova vs Siniakova :

Siniakova was the early hero of last week’s event, showing great emotion and having a joyful time in defeating one of the biggest icons tennis has ever seen (Serena). I thought Bouskova would play better on clay since she’s such a good defender but it feels like she can’t find a good balance of offense and winds up losing. Siniakova’s pace and aggression should leave her in solid control of this one. Siniakova in 2.

Anisimova vs Kudermetova :

Both of these players have settled nicely into the third tier on tour. They’re not consistent enough to always threaten for titles, but they’re hard to count out against any opponent in a single match. Kudermetova is much more consistent, but Anisimova’s backhand has proven to be able to find winners from just about anywhere. This should be a close contest, and Kudermetova should be a bit more confident in her shots in key moments. Kudermetova in 3.

Konta vs Cirstea :

The close odds for this one are a bit confusing. Cirstea is coming off a finals run and has been one of the best players on clay this year. Now Konta who hasn’t really beaten anyone on the dirt is only +130? There may be something I don’t know, but it’s hard to see much happening here other than Cirstea’s offense being the dictating factor. Cirstea in 2.

Van Uytvanck vs Trevisan :

Trevisan has really struggled to find wins on tour since her amazing run at Roland Garros, but this is as good a chance as any. Van Uytvanck is a big server whose game is really best geared to grass and indoor tennis. She tends to struggle through the clay season and Trevisan’s ability to extend rallies may net her this win. It’ll still be a close prospect though, as Trevisan’s stretch of losses has her almost needing to back up the same results at this event to remain on tour. Trevisan in 3.

Kasatkina vs Doi :

Misaki Doi is a tricky lefty, and Kasatkina may have an extended match on her hands here, but it’s the perfect warmup for the skilled Russian baseliner. Doi has lost most of her clay matches this season, and Kasatkina is likely to be able to outlast her in any lengthy rallies. Kasatkina in 2.

Podoroska vs Bencic :

Podoroska is another 2020 hero who’s struggled a tiny bit to back up the same results in 2021. This is a spot though where she comes in having played just enough tennis to pull off a big win though. Bencic hits big but depends on her power a bit much. Podoroska is an excellent counterpuncher and her ability to redirect the ball may frustrate Bencic who likes to get her feet set and is a bit guilty of moving to the next shot before the ball has been played. Podoroska is likely to get most of her points on clay, so this is an event she should definitely be going all out at. Podoroska in 3.

Bertens vs Hercog :

Bertens slow return to the tour is a bit like Murray’s at this point. She may not return to her best form anytime soon, but it’s still really enjoyable to watch her play. Hercog is a skilled player, but there’s been some trouble with her closing out matches that may prove a tiny bit problematic here. Only a tiny bit, as I expect she will see the finish line a handful of times. Bertens is still rusty until she isn’t rusty. Hercog in 2.

Siegemund vs Garcia :

Laura Siegemund is a pretty great player, and that gives her a shot in this match. Caroline Garcia will be playing at home, and she carries the kind of firepower that looks like it could catch fire for a week and win a major easily. Her forehand is huge, and when this is the case the players tend to be a bit inconsistent. This is the case with Caroline, who tends to spray the ball long with her forehand a bit too much to really win matches easily. This should go to three as Siegemund will have to defend a great deal, but will also benefit from Garcia’s lapses in quality. Siegemund is the sharper player, but is coming off a few losses. Hard to call, but I tend to pick matches against Garcia because of her errors, so I am likely a tiny bit biased. Garcia in 3.

Cornet vs Tan :

Harmony Tan is a really cool name. Coincidentally, she is excellent at tennis. An exciting young talent from France who is avoiding a lot of the media’s attention, Tan is through qualifying here and gets to play Alize Cornet during a pretty significant struggle. Cornet is having a long and lackluster clay season despite playing some decent tennis. She loves to extend rallies but has had some health issues which make it tough to back her here. Tan has some solid wins against Bolsova and Rus in recent months so she can win this. It’ll be a big moment though beating one of the great French players at her home slam. Tan in 3.

Kanepi vs Voundrousova :

Their clay seasons look the same. 3 losses 1 win. Kanepi probably has the worse loss against Kozlova, but Voundrousova is supposed to be pretty solid on the red shtuff so it’s more surprising for her. I think she’ll find form first, but Kanepi can turn things around at any moment as powerful as her offense is. Voundrousova tentatively in 2.

Badosa vs Davis :

Paula Badosa is one of the sharpest players on tour right now, and this is a simple match to get her started. Lauren Davis just isn’t the caliber of player to upend the Spanish talent. Badosa in 2.

Burel vs Kovinic :

Clara Burel is a player on the rise, and Kovinic hasn’t won many matches in a while. Kovinic’s health may still be a little in question, as she’s usually at her best on clay. Burel should win if Kovinic continues to be flat, but Danka’s top level is capable of unsettling the junior talent. Burel in 3.

Cocciaretto vs Bogdan :

If I’m not mistaken Cocciaretto is one of the best servebots the WTA has seen in a while. She doesn’t play a ton of matches on tour, and lamentably I haven’t watched her enough to offer a great opinion. Bogdan’s capable of winning this in straight sets, as she has a few wins beyond Elisabetta’s capabilities already this season. Bogdan in 2.

Osaka vs Tig :

Osaka has a tough opener here, but she’s getting her at the right time. Tig has the ability to extend rallies and puts a lot of dangerous slices into the court. She has a very tenacious attitude and fights hard for every point. That quality hasn’t been present lately though, and so Osaka should be through here pretty quickly here. Here are some brief thoughts about Osaka. Osaka is a person who has been completely surrounded by marketing and tennis people since a very early age. Despite having travelled the world extensively, she’s somewhat sheltered in terms of social interactions and how to actually be the person that she’s being constantly sold as. The divide between our social media presence and our actual lives is a source of shame and stress for many people, so it should not be overlooked that no one is really working with Naomi to tell her that most of it is ultimately not important. Mental health is something people are being bombarded with orders to maintain nowadays (from tv/radio), and so one of the most common fears currently is that something will go wrong with our mental health. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy in the sense that we will often shrink and clench against the “impending/possible problem” when really there is nothing there. Osaka is not a robot; she seems fairly shy and has been thrust into the spotlight over and over. Some people never really adjust to that. Some people also realize over time that they don’t enjoy something, or just need a break. Osaka can’t just say “listen, these interviews suck and i don’t want to talk about my losses or listen to people suggest reasons I lost or answer endless questions about whether I’ve lost my confidence”. If you overanalyze a press conference or ever had actual doubts, you could potentially get a bit wobbly. Uncertainty is a real issue for people to sit with in life, and something that is adding to yours is often unwelcome. Osaka can’t approach any of these subjects publicly though because of the nature of the media. Admitting any issue or dislike leads them to not only report that but also to throw out a million guesses about what else is wrong and what has triggered this and that. It is exhausting, so Osaka (or likely her media team) put out a statement. I don’t think she’s looking to belittle mental health issues, and her statement is cringe but it reads like most pre-emptive arguments do. People know they’ll get flak for their decisions so they play out the argument in their head 100 times. When they finally approach the subject with the person, the person can’t understand why they’re so upset. Well, it’s because they’ve had the argument in their head 100 times. Ghost you has already pissed them off endlessly. Ghost you argues real good. Anyway, I can’t pick a lane, but I’m not mad at Osaka’s method for rejecting interviews, because if she honestly explained her feelings clearly about the whole situation then it would basically amount to an interview anyway. “Leave me alone” is never received well, but sometimes it’s okay to just do what the person is asking rather than demand to know the real reason they’re asking it. Leave Osaka alone. She’s a wholeass kid. A millionaire, sports icon, billion dollar industry supporter. It is a weird thing to navigate and she’s gonna goof up, and she’s gonna need breaks. If you’re really fiending for that good Osakalypse Now quotent quotables though, just cover up Ash Barty’s answers to the questions and repeat after me “I just focused on trying to play my tennis” There, you now have 50% of the answers. Osaka in 2.