Not only is the No.1 ranking on the line for Iga Swiatek, but she will face stern tests as she embarks on her Roland Garros title defense.
No.13 seed Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 champion who has defeated Swiatek in their two previous meetings, is her projected fourth-round opponent. No.4 Elena Rybakina, who has got the better of Swiatek on three occasions this year, has been drawn into the same half and could await in the semifinals.
No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka and No.3 Jessica Pegula lead the bottom half of the draw, opening up against Marta Kostyuk and Danielle Collins, respectively.
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No.1 seed Swiatek opens her campaign for a third title in Paris against Spain’s Cristina Bucsa, against whom she dropped only one game in the third round of the Australian Open in January. However, the road gets progressively tougher from there. She could face No.13 Barbora Krejcikova in the fourth round. The Czech, who won the title here in 2021, defeated Swiatek in their last two meetings, in the 2022 Ostrava final and 2023 Dubai final. In their only clay-court meeting, Krejcikova held match points before falling in the 2021 Rome third round.
Former World No.1 and No.18 seed Victoria Azarenka opens up against 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu. The winner could be Krejcikova’s third-round opponent.
Gauff, Krejcikova, Ostapenko pose threat to Big Three
Swiatek’s projected quarterfinal opponent is No.6 seed Coco Gauff, in what would be a rematch of last year’s final. Gauff starts against Rebeka Masarova, whom she defeated 6-1, 6-1 in this year’s Auckland final to claim her third career title. Lurking in Gauff’s section are two players who have been resurgent on clay in recent weeks. Rome finalist Anhelina Kalinina, the No.25 seed, is her projected third-round opponent, while No.11 seed Veronika Kudermetova, a back-to-back semifinalist in Madrid and Rome, could await in the last 16.
First rounds to watch:  Victoria Azarenka vs. Bianca Andreescu; Lesia Tsurenko vs.  Barbora Krejcikova
No.4 seed Rybakina comes into Paris as an all-court threat. She built on her Wimbledon title last year to win WTA 1000 trophies on both hard courts (Indian Wells) and clay (Rome), while also reaching the Australian Open and Miami finals.
Roland Garros was in fact Rybakina’s first breakthrough on the Grand Slam stage. She defeated Serena Williams in the 2021 fourth round — in what would be the 23-time major champion’s last French Open match — to make her first quarterfinal at this level. This year, Rybakina opens against a qualifier, with No.14 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia her projected fourth-round opponent.
Danger to Rybakina could come as early as the second round. This time last year, Czech teenager Linda Noskova made an eye-catching debut as a qualifier, stretching Emma Raducanu all the way in a three-set thriller in her first ever tour-level match. The big-hitting Noskova, 18, has gone on to establish herself in the Top 50 and opens against Danka Kovinic.
In the quarterfinals, Rybakina could face a rematch of either last year’s Wimbledon final, against No.7 seed Ons Jabeur, or this year’s Miami final, against No.10 seed Petra Kvitova. However, both Jabeur and Kvitova have had their clay preparation disrupted by calf and foot injuries, respectively. A pair of Italian clay-courters could be poised to take advantage. Jabeur starts against 2022 Palermo finalist Lucia Bronzetti, while Kvitova opens against Elisabetta Cocciaretto.
Meanwhile, Haddad Maia could face a contrasting start to the tournament. The Brazilian opens against the slice-and-dice wiles of Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria, but in the second round will face either heavy-hitting 19-year-old Diana Shnaider or big-serving Rebecca Marino.
In this quarter, only Kvitova has previously made the Roland Garros semifinals.
First rounds to watch: Petra Martic vs.  Shelby Rogers; Tatjana Maria vs.  Beatriz Haddad Maia;  Petra Kvitova vs. Elisabetta Cocciaretto; Lucia Bronzetti vs.  Ons Jabeur
No.3 seed Pegula heads an intriguing quarter packed with looming threats. Off the bat, she faces Danielle Collins, the 2021 Australian Open runner-up — though Pegula will be bolstered by her 4-0 record against Collins, and her fellow American’s absence from competition since Charleston.
Not that it gets any easier for the five-time major quarterfinalist. In the second round, she will face either French veteran Alizé Cornet, whose scrappiness has long made her a home crowd favorite, or the ever-dangerous Camila Giorgi. Potential fourth-round opponents include much-improved No.24 seed Anastasia Potapova, whom Pegula has needed to come back from the brink of defeat twice this year, and 2021 runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, whose comeback from injury has gained pace this week in Strasbourg.
Pegula’s projected quarterfinal opponent is No.8 seed and 2021 semifinalist Maria Sakkari, but the Greek will first have to navigate one of the toughest unseeded players in the draw in her first round. Former World No.19 Karolina Muchova’s talent has never been in doubt, but the Czech has been repeatedly set back by injuries. This year, she is on the comeback trail again, and has already reached two WTA 1000 quarterfinals in Dubai and Indian Well, as well as the Rome last 16. Additionally, Muchova has won both of her tour-level meetings with Sakkari to date, including in the second round here last year.
First rounds to watch:  Maria Sakkari vs. Karolina Muchova; Sara Errani vs. Jil Teichmann;  Magda Linette vs. Leylah Fernandez; Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Linda Fruhvirtova; Alizé Cornet vs. Camila Giorgi; Danielle Collins vs.  Jessica Pegula
Can No.2 seed Sabalenka thrive on traditional red clay? The 25-year-old ascended to the status of Grand Slam champion at the Australian Open in January and backed it up with a second Madrid title three weeks ago; she has reached at least the final of five of her eight tournaments this year. However, on the slow red clay of Rome, she lost her opener to Sofia Kenin, and she is yet to go beyond the fourth round in Paris.
Sabalenka is projected to face former World No.1 and No.16 seed Karolina Pliskova in the fourth round this time, but the Czech will have to navigate a marquee first round against 2018 runner-up Sloane Stephens first. Indeed, No.19 seed Zheng Qinwen could pose the biggest threat in this section after reaching her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal in Rome. Zheng enjoyed a breakout run to reach the fourth round here last year, where she was the only player to take a set off eventual champion Swiatek.
France’s No.5 seed Caroline Garcia, Sabalenka’s projected quarterfinal opponent, faces a series of stern tests as she carries her nation’s hopes. She opens against another heavy-hitting young Chinese player who has found form on clay, Wang Xiyu. Garcia’s section also contains both of last year’s semifinalists, No.9 seed Daria Kasatkina and No.26 seed Martina Trevisan; a potential second-round encounter between Kasatkina and 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova could be significant.
Also in this section is 2017 champion and perennial chaos agent Jelena Ostapenko. The No.17 seed arrives in Paris fresh off the Rome semifinals, and has the power to take the racquet out of any opponent’s hands.
First rounds to watch:  Caroline Garcia vs. Wang Xiyu; Elina Svitolina vs.  Martina Trevisan; Jule Niemeier vs.  Daria Kasatkina;  Karolina Pliskova vs. Sloane Stephens; Marta Kostyuk vs.  Aryna Sabalenka
- Rybakina, Swiatek in same half; Krejcikova looms
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