WTA FRENCH OPEN PREVIEWS – PART DEUX – THE DARK HORSES

by Karen

I was taken to task yesterday after publishing my list of WTA Contenders for the second Grand Slam of the season.  The fact that I had Ana Ivanovic as a serious contender and not Li Na made people question my sanity.  I think we need to face facts.  We are now mid way through the season and neither Li Na, Aga Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Jelena Jankovic, or any of the other women who reside in the top 10 have shown that they are serious contenders for the French Open title.  Frankly, not even the 4 women who I had previously featured are shoo ins for the title.  This is the first  French Open in a long time where anyone can claim victory on the final Saturday. 

Today, I am going to look at those ladies who stand an outside chance of lifting the Suzanne Lenglen trophy.  


Li Na
Li Na has been here before.  She is currently ranked a career high No. 2.  She has won the French Open.  She is the current Australian Open champion, but, and this is where it gets interesting.  Li is yet to beat a player in the top 10 this year.  She has suffered some surprising losses this year.  She lost the Sony Open from a winning position and that seems to be Li’s career in a nutshell.  While she has made improvements in her game, her decision making during matches leaves a lot to be desired.  On her best days Li can go toe to toe with anyone in the top 10.  On her worst days she can lose to anyone outside the top 100.  Can she keep it together for 2 weeks.  She has done it twice in her career.  There is no reason she can’t do it again. 
Lucie Safarova
Lucie Safarova was one point away from changing the dynamics of this 2014 season.  Had she made that backhand down the line at match point, we may have had a new Grand Slam champ crowned in Australia, as it is, a Hawkeye challenged ruled the ball out and the rest as they say is history.  Lucie would go on to lose the match and as a forebearer of things to come has lost some heart breakers this year.  She won’t win the French Open but she could cause a huge upset in the draw. 

Petra Kvitova
What do you do with a player with all the talent in the world, who can hit anyone off the court but who just can’t seem to stay healthy?  You place her as a dark horse in a Grand Slam.  Now that she has she shed the baggage that is Stepanek, has really worked on her fitness, one can only hope that Kvitova can stay healthy for the better part of 2 weeks to make some noise in the draw.  I doubt it, but that is why she is a dark horse. 
Dominika Cibulkova

Next up, the ones you never see coming 
Her results have tailed off since her maiden run at this year’s Australian Open.  She was outhit in her losing effort to Camila Giorgi in Rome.  She is however a former semifinalist, famous for handing Sharapova one of her worst defeats at a Grand Slam.  Can Domi keep it together and stay healthy for 2 weeks.  Doubtful, but she will without a doubt cause some amount of chaos in the draw. 

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