The best player of the year so far and one of the big favourites to take home the title this year will be making her first appearance at the 2017 French Open today. This is a clay court player in Svitolina up against a grass court player in Shvedova and Elina Svitolina is entering the match as the heavy favourite to walk away as the winner.
As I said earlier, Svitolina has been the best player of the year so far and a lot of that success has come on the clay courts. The end of her hard court season didn’t go to plan as she lost in the fourth round of Indian Wells to Garbine Muguruza and second round of Miami to Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Her first tournament on clay went great as she won her third title of the year in Istanbul at the International level event in a week were she got wins over Sorana Cristea and Elise Mertens. She went to Madrid the week after looking tired and worn out and that showed as she fell in the first round to Saisai Zheng. She turned that around a week later as she won her fourth title of the year in Rome at the Premier 5 level event with wins over Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep, who are all contenders for the French Open as well. Shvedova hasn’t had the best of times recently but she will be hoping an upset over Svitolina today will turn that around. Her horrid hard court swing ended with getting her first win of the season in Miami before falling to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round right after she fell in the first round of Indian Wells to Varvara Lepchenko. On the clay, she has fallen to Tatjana Maria in the second round of Rabat, Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of Madrid and Venus Williams in the first round of Rome. She got her best result of the season last week when she reached the quarterfinals of Nurnberg before going out to Misaki Doi.
French Open Record
Elina Svitolina will be taking part in her seventh French Open this year after she made her first appearance in 2011. Over her six appearances the average round she has reached is the second round but I see her making it past that average this year. Her best result at the tournament came when she played the 2015 event, when she reached the quarterfinals, which is also her best ever result at any of the slams. She ended up falling to Ana Ivanovic that year but she did get a win over Alize Cornet during that run. Her worst result was when she fell in the first round of qualifying to Anastasia Pivovarova in 2007, which was her first appearance. Yaroslava Shvedova will be taking part in her twelfth French Open this year after she made her debut in 2006. With her eleven appearances her average result is the fourth round but I don’t think she will be able to reach that this year. Her best results came in 2010 and 2012 when she reached the quarterfinals before losing to Jelena Jankovic and Petra Kvitova respectively. Her worst results came when she lost in the first round of qualifying in 2006 and 2008 with losses to Hanna Nooni and Julie Coin respectively. I think that with her past success Shvedova might go into the match with a little chip on her shoulder but that will fall off when she sees how well Svitolina is playing.
Head to Head Record
These two have played each other once before but never at the French Open or on the clay. The only time these two have played was last year, 2016, on the grass courts at Wimbledon in the second round. Yaroslavl Shvedova managed to cause an upset that time as she won the encounter 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. This seemed like a very competitive encounter and I am sure that they both had opportunities but it was the Kazakh’s clay court prowess and experience that got her through. I think that this will be on both of their minds heading in to match due to how recent the match was but I am sure it will go out of Svitolina’s mind when she starts hitting balls.
I think that both players will be playing at a high level of tennis for the encounter but Svitolina will be too good in the end of Shvedova. I that the two women will hold serve to start the match till 2-2 but from Svitolina will go into a zone and blitz through the last through games of the set in a matter of minutes. In the second, I think that Svitolina will go up and early break but then she will come back down to earth and Shvedova will make it competitive. Shvedova will probably have a number of points to break back but Svitolina will manage to play the important points right and keep it on serve. Eventually the Ukrainian will serve out a 6-2, 6-4 match and she I think she would be happy with a routine performance.