Surely France’s best hope this year for long-awaited Roland Garros glory, Caroline Garcia begins her campaign to become the first French player to win the singles title at Roland Garros since 2000 against Duan Yingying of China. Garcia, ranked 7th in the world, showed some good form ahead of the French Open, but after plenty of upsets already, she will not be counting on reaching the second round against Duan, who is not short of quality herself. Who will come out on top?
Garcia and Duan have never met before in their careers. But despite Garcia being Duan’s junior by four years, it is the Frenchwoman who is the more experienced. Garcia has amassed five titles and last year reached the quarterfinals in Paris. Duan has never been beyond the second round of a Slam, and only made her debut at the French Open last year. That being said, she does have six more career victories than Garcia, and fewer losses, although she has only won one title.
Last time out
Garcia had a promising, if not hugely successful clay court season. The 24-year-old began her clay court season in Charleston where she was top seed, but she crashed out in the second round to her compatriot Alize Cornet. However, she reached back-to-back semifinals in Stuttgart and Madrid, picking up a good win against Svitolina in Germany. But she must have been disappointed by a heavy defeat at the hands of Simona Halep in the Rome quarterfinals.
After retiring from the first round of qualifying in Miami, Duan elected to return to China to play in Zhengzhou and Quanzhou rather than take part in the European clay court season. It did not prove to be an entirely successful decision, as Duan lost early in both Zhengzhou and Quanzhou, with the injury that forced her retirement from Miami perhaps not entirely healed. How she will manage without any matches on the clay will also be interesting to see.
How do they match up?
Garcia will look to dominate this match from the back of the court. Equipped with powerful groundstrokes and a fine serve, the Frenchwoman will be aware of the need to make a good start to really get the crowd involved and on her side. If she is able to make that good start and dominate throughout with her forehand then she may well prove too hot for Duan to handle. Moving into the forecourt would also be a sensible tactic for Garcia as she will not want to engage in too many long rallies.
Duan has some power of her own, particularly off the backhand side. She has shown throughout her career an impressive ability to remain in control of a point when in the ascendancy, and uses her forehand well to put away midcourt balls. But against as an impressive an athlete as Garcia on a clay court, that will be given a severe examination. That problem will be compounded by the fact that Duan is not herself amongst the best movers on Tour.
The fact that this will be Duan’s first clay court match of the season makes what was always going to be a tough ask, even harder. Garcia will surely have the vocal support of the Parisian crowd and will be considerably more match sharp than her opponent who hasn’t played since last month. When her greater firepower is added to the equation, the odds of an upset look even smaller. The past few days have shown anything can happen, but Garcia will surely be feeling confident of getting this done in straight sets.
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