Barbara Schett gives advice on who you should pick ahead of the year's second Grand Slam for WTA Fantasy Tennis.
"First of all, [Paris is] all very open, but Karolina Pliskova seems like she’s put it together all very nicely the last few weeks on clay. After her great win in Rome, she comes into the French Open full of confidence, and I think she really enjoys the surface now.
"On top of that, it’s such a big advantage having a Grand Slam winner like Conchita Martinez in her team. I’ve always looked up to Conchita’s coaching style because I think she’s tactically excellent and has that calmness and sense of fun which I think gives Karolina a lot of strength."
"Simona Halep is of course the defending champion, and she’s always extremely tricky to play on the clay because she moves extremely well and she doesn’t miss much.
"She has the experience not just of her win here last year but other Grand Slam finals as well, and I think whenever she returns to a tournament where she has done well, she carries a certain spirit with her. She loves the conditions and the atmosphere here in Paris."
"Petra Kvitova has had an amazing run in the last six months after a great year in 2018. I know that clay has never been her favorite surface, but she is full of confidence and she’s ready for it.
"She sees the sport a bit differently now and she really appreciates that she can play tennis again. I feel she has raised her tennis to the next level because she does everything more consciously now, and that’s why I count her in the circle of favorites."
"You can never write off Serena Williams, even though she hasn’t won a Grand Slam since her comeback after becoming a mother. She’s obviously extremely keen and determined to win Grand Slam No.24 and although she hasn’t played many matches on clay of late, we know that usually she doesn’t really need to in order to play well.
"I think even if she starts the tournament in a kind of average way, with a win or two under her belt, she will get better and better throughout the tournament."
"At the beginning of the year when I watched Bianca Andreescu in Auckland, I just couldn’t believe how well she was playing. And suddenly she has raised from a ranking well outside the Top 100 to Top 25, helped by her fantastic title run at Indian Wells.
"I know she is coming off a shoulder injury and hasn’t played any tournaments on clay, but she has been practicing hard at Rafael Nadal’s academy in Mallorca. She has fabulous variety in her shots which will be an advantage here in Paris, and I think she’s the sort of player who turns up at every tournament determined to win it. I just really like her energy on court."
"Ash Barty has also had a tremendous year, and I think now she really believes she can win a Grand Slam. She’s beaten many of the big guns and continuously she’s improving her ranking.
"I love the way she constructs points and she has that calmness on the court—she looks like she never gets nervous and always has everything under control. I like that! I also just love that she’s so down to earth. That in itself doesn’t make you win a Grand Slam but she definitely has the game with her variety and slice."
"Kiki has to be full of confidence after winning her biggest title so far at Madrid and reaching the semis at Rome – two quite different clay conditions. A former semifinalist at Roland Garros, she manages to stay aggressive and hit through the clay courts – in fact she is practically fearless and can hit anybody off court.
"She has also improved her fitness and movement tremendously, which is key to her recent successes. She comes into the tournament on her career high ranking of No.4 and there’s no reason she can’t also achieve the best result of her career to date!"
"I’ve included Naomi Osaka because she’s the World No.1 and has won the last two Grand Slams on offer. I know that clay perhaps isn’t her best surface, but maybe she will find the passion and love for it here at the French Open!
"There’s a fair bit of pressure on her shoulders, but on the other hand she maybe isn’t being talked of as one of the top favorites, and perhaps that will play in her favor."