Can Simona Halep hold on to No.1? Will there be another installment of Serena vs. Maria? Can Garbiñe Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova navigate their tough roads? WTA Insider analyzes the 2018 French Open draw.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
May 24, 2018

PARIS, France - The draw for the 2018 French Open is out and it is not for the faint of heart. While top seeds Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki should sleep well tonight, other big names will be put to the test early in Week 1: 2016 champion Garbiñe Muguruza has drawn 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round, three-time champion Serena Williams makes her 2018 Slam debut against Kristyna Pliskova, and 2017 semifinalist Karolina Pliskova is facing a field of landmines as she tries to build on her clay surge. 

Jelena Ostapenko, Roland Garros, French Open
Jelena Ostapenko is the youngest active Grand Slam champion. (Getty Images)

Tournament Snapshot:

Top 8 seeds: No.1 Simona Halep, No.2 Caroline Wozniacki, No.3 Garbiñe Muguruza, No.4 Elina Svitolina, No.5 Jelena Ostapenko, No.6 Karolina Pliskova, No.7 Caroline Garcia, No.8 Petra Kvitova.

Top half: Halep, Muguruza, Garcia, Pliskova.

Bottom half: Wozniacki, Svitolina, Ostapenko, Kvitova.

Projected quarterfinals: Halep vs. Garcia, Muguruza vs. Pliskova, Svitolina vs. Ostapenko, Kvitova vs. Wozniacki.

Projected Round of 16: Halep vs. Mertens, Kerber vs. Garcia, Muguruza vs. Vandeweghe, Goerges vs. Pliskova, Ostapenko vs. Venus, Keys vs. Svitolina, Kvitova vs. Stephens, Kasatkina vs. Wozniacki.

Last year's final: Jelena Ostapenko d. Simona Halep, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

To see the full draw, click here.

Elina Svitolina was a junior champion at Roland Garros in 2010 (©Jimmie48/WTA)

Six women will battle it out for the No.1 ranking

No.1 Simona Halep will be looking to fend off five women for the top ranking after Paris: Caroline Wozniacki, Garbiñe Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, and Caroline Garcia. For a full breakdown of their ranking scenarios, click here.

Here's how their draws look:

Draw Winners: Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina

The No.2 and No.4 seeds respectively, both women should find their draws fairly comfortable in the early going. Wozniacki has a potentially tricky opener against Miami semifinalist Danielle Collins, but the American has won just one main draw match on clay this year. Wozniacki could also face two-time French Open semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky in the second round, but the Swiss star has been out with an injury since the hardcourt season. The first seed Wozniacki could face is No.32 seed Alizé Cornet, who opens against Sara Errani. 

In all, that's a very workable first week for Wozniacki, who has made the quarterfinals in Paris just twice in her career. Things could ramp up significantly in the second week for the Dane, who could face a streaking Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals, with either defending champion Jelena Ostapenko or Elina Svitolina looming in the semifinals. 

READ: WTA Insider Clay Court Power Rankings

Svitolina is also in a comfortable position in the bottom half of the draw. Full of confidence after her successful title defense in Rome, the 23-year-old Ukrainian is looking to finally make her first semifinal at Roland Garros. She opens against Ajla Tomljanovic and the first seed she could face is Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu, who is seeded at a Slam for the first time in her remarkable career. 

LISTEN: Champions Corner with Elina Svitolina

Svitolina could face either Madison Keys or Naomi Osaka in the Round of 16 - neither youngster has been able to earn much clay success this season - and defending champion Ostapenko could be waiting in the quarterfinals (or, perhaps, Victoria Azarenka). 

In all, this could have gone much worse for Wozniacki and Svitolina. 

Karolina Pliskova won her biggest clay title last month in Stuttgart. (©Jimmie48/WTA)

Draw Losers: Karolina Pliskova, Garbiñe Muguruza

The Pliskova family were dealt an incredibly tough hand in Paris. Not only does Kristyna Pliskova open against Serena Williams, but Karolina Pliskova may have to go through both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams just to make the quarterfinals. If Serena goes out early, the path does not get much easier, as Pliskova could face her occasional doubles partner Julia Goerges in the Round of 16. Goerges dominated Pliskova just a few weeks ago on clay during Fed Cup.

If Pliskova can successfully navigate her first four rounds, she could face 2016 champion Garbiñe Muguruza. But the Spaniard has a potentially tough opener against 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian has not been her best in 2018 after undergoing wrist surgery - she has yet to defeat a Top 50 player this season - but first rounds against talented veterans can always be tricky. 

Also looming in Muguruza's path are Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has had a solid clay season so far, and CoCo Vandeweghe. The American has not always been comfortable on the dirt, but a surprising run to the Stuttgart final, where she defeated Halep, Siegemund, Garcia, and Stephens still makes her a dangerous player in Paris, especially if the weather stays warm and the conditions get quick.

Simona Halep has made the final in two of her last four appearances at Roland Garros. (©Jimmie48/WTA)

Draw Neutrals: Simona Halep and Caroline Garcia

Halep and Garcia have been drawn into the same quarter. The World No.1 opens her tournament against Alison Riske and the first seed she could face is Kristina Mladenovic, with an enticing Round of 16 meeting with Elise Mertens. 

Garcia, who has been one of the most consistent players on clay this season (Stuttgart semifinal, Madrid semifinal, Rome quarterfinal), opens against Duan Ying-Ying and the first seed she could face is Zhang Shuai. A quarterfinalist here last year, Garcia could face either Angelique Kerber or Kiki Bertens in the Round of 16.

Maria Sharapova has reached the second week of the French Open in her last five appearances. (©Jimmie48/WTA)

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova could clash in the fourth round.

It's a long way to go for what would be a blockbuster second-week clash, but Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have been drawn into the same section in the quarter headlined by Pliskova and Muguruza.

Serena has not played a tournament since her early exit to Naomi Osaka in the first round of Miami, but history has proven her ability to come into a Slam cold and walk away with the title. A win in Paris would see her tie Margaret Court for the most major singles titles ever, bringing her tally to 24 with Wimbledon around the corner. 

Playing in her first major since giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia, the three-time French Open champion opens against the twin sister of the last woman to beat her at a Slam: big-serving Kristyna Pliskova. From there, Serena could face Australia's Ashleigh Barty and then Julia Goerges, before a possible showdown with either Karolina Pliskova or Sharapova. 

A two-time champion in 2012 and 2014, Maria Sharapova returns to Paris for the first time since 2015. Once again, the clay has provided a welcome salve after Sharapova's slow start to the season. She came into Madrid riding a four-match losing streak for just the second time in her career and proceeded to advance to the quarterfinals and backed up that result last week in Rome, where she reached the semifinals. In the Eternal City, she tallied wins over No.18 Ashleigh Barty and No.6 Ostapenko – her first tournament with two Top 20 wins since 2015 WTA Finals – before falling to Halep. Her 3 hour, 11-minute win over Ostapenko in the quarterfinals was the longest match on clay this season.

Jelena Ostapenko is making just her third main draw appearance at Roland Garros. (©Jimmie48/WTA)

Jelena Ostapenko could face Victoria Azarenka in the second round. 

The 20-year-old returns to Roland Garros ranked No.5, after a strong 12-month campaign that showed she was no one-hit wonder. After winning her first tour-level title in Paris to become the first unseeded champion at Roland Garros since 1933. Since winning the title, Ostapenko has posted a 31-20 record (5-5 vs. Top 10) in 20 tournaments, won the title in Seoul, and qualified for her first BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and advanced to her first Premier Mandatory final earlier this spring in Miami. 

She opens her title defense against Kateryna Kozlova and if she wins, she would face the winner of either Katerina Siniakova or Victoria Azarenka. A face-off with Azarenka might be the perfect jolt to the Latvian's campaign. The youngster has proven she's more than able to play her best against the game's marquee names. 

Petra Kvitova has tallied double-digit win-streaks twice already this season. (©Jimmie48/WTA)

Petra Kvitova looks to keep streaking

The Czech has gone out of her way to downplay her chances on Paris' red clay, but she's undoubtedly the hottest player coming into Roland Garros. A semifinalist in 2012, Kvitova is on an 11-match winning streak after back-to-back titles in Prague and Madrid. She leads the tour in titles this season, having captured four, and also leads the tour in wins (30), Top 10 wins (7), and 3-set wins (12). To cap it all off, Kvitova will be well-rested in Paris after skipping Rome to let her body heal up. 

The No.8 seed here, Kvitova has been drawn into Wozniacki's quarter and will open her tournament against Veronica Cepede Royg. The first seed she could face is Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, who is building towards something big after making the semifinals in Stuttgart and Rome. Pass that test and US Open champion Sloane Stephens could be waiting in the Round of 16. Kvitova is 0-2 against Stephens, losing both their meetings last summer. 

Serena Williams is playing her third tournament of 2018. (©Jimmie48/WTA)

Notable First Round Matches: Kristina Mladenovic vs. Andrea Petkovic, Kiki Bertens vs. Aryna Sabalenka, Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova, CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Laura Siegemund, Julia Goerges vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Serena Williams vs. Kristyna Pliskova, Victoria Azarenka vs. Katerina Siniakova, Johanna Konta vs. Yulia Putintseva, Daria Kasatkina vs. Kaia Kanepi, Alizé Cornet vs. Sara Errani, Caroline Wozniacki vs. Danielle Collins