Young Guns of the WTA Set To Crash Roland Garros Party

Sergey ZikovSenior Analyst IMay 22, 2009

ROME - MAY 07:  Victoria Azarenka of Belarus hits a forehand during her quarter final match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia during day four of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Internazionli BNL D'Italia event at Foro Italico on May 7, 2009 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

It's almost that time again, folks. A Slam is finally here again! I will be attempting to keep you up to speed on how the "Young Guns" of the WTA fare this time around. Let's dive on in, shall we?


The tennis gods continue to hand Victoria Azarenka painfully challenging draws.

This time, she is seated in the same quarter as world No. 1 Dinara Safina and 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic. It's been fairly well-documented how Vika is not entertained on clay, but she has become a big-stage performer in 2009.

Some of her best performances have come in Tier One events. She turned her game up a notch in Rome, and was rewarded with a semifinal berth. Despite losing there, she tuned up a couple of solid clay court players to reach that high watermark.

She will take on diminutive Italian Roberta Vinci in the first round, a player she has never faced. Vinci has won two career titles on clay, but has been an opening round punching bag at Roland Garros. She made four consecutive opening exits from 2004 to 2007 before not playing in 2008.

She could face clay-court specialist Carla Suarez Navarro before getting to Ivanovic, which could be a wildly amusing third round encounter. 


Don't count out the Frenchwoman.

And no, I'm not talking to you, Amelie. It's about the French Open debut of 16-year-old wild card Kristina Mladenovic. She knows how to dominate on clay, but she doesn't have much experience on the big stage.

She's an imposing figure at close to 6'2", and she will face Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova in the first round. Not an easy match for a young player at all. If she would manage to win there, she would almost certainly be meeting No. 5 Jelena Jankovic next. 

Welcome to the big stage, Kristina!


Caroline Wozniacki is also placed in the third quarter of the draw.

She is one player that has probably never felt better going into a French Open. The Blonde Bomber recently became the first-ever Danish woman to reach the WTA Top 10, and she did it by reaching the final in Madrid.

For someone who had a strong dislike for clay courts a month ago, a lot can sure change in a hurry. She captured her first clay title (Ponte Vedra Beach) and also reached two more finals.

She will face 22-year-old Russian Vera Dushevina first, certainly not a new foe to Caroline. The two met up on May 15 in Madrid, a match Caroline took in a fairly routine straight set affair. The pair have also played twice more on hard courts, with Caroline winning those in monotonous repetition.

A possible Wozniacki-Jankovic showdown in the round of 16 looms ahead, if all goes accordingly to plan. It has become almost expected that Caroline and Jelena meet in a Slam. In 2008, they met at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, both going to Jelena.


Twelfth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska finds herself in the relatively experienced fourth quarter of the draw, headed by American Serena Williams.

Radwanska senior will take on 33-year-old Paraguayan veteran Rossana De Los Rios in the first round. The two have only met on clay once, a 2007 debacle which Radwanska won 6-0, 6-2.

Agi has not been extremely spectacular leading up to Roland Garros, but she has had a couple decent results. She ended Ana Ivanovic's fun in the round of 16 in Rome, knocking out the former French Open champion in a decisive third set.

She isn't nearly as dialed in as she was last year, when she entered the French winning six of seven on clay, including the Istanbul title. Her worst case scenario would be entering the fourth round and facing Svetlana Kuznetsova.


Assorted Notes

  • Third-seed Venus Williams might be in for a little more second round fun than she wants. She is staring the German Howitzer right in the face, also known as 19-year-old Sabine Lisicki. The Charleston champion disposed of Venus earlier in straight sets, and it could be another early exit for the American if Lisicki is on her game.
  • Dutch teen Arantxa Rus has advanced through qualifying and will gain entrance into the main draw, but her opponent has yet to be decided. More on her later.
  • How far can Maria Sharapova go? Her toughest foe in the second round could be Nadia Petrova, a player who has never given Maria much problem. After that, she might have a free pass to Vera Zvonareva.
  • Is anyone going to slow down Dinara? Anne Keothavong won't.