The 2023 Roland Garros women’s tennis tournament is five weeks away. Iga Swiatek was not healthy in March, but she should be fit and ready to defend her French Open championship from 2022. The women’s side of the French Open is normally wide open but since Swiatek’s rise, that’s changed. She’s now a huge favorite, according to the wagering odds. Taking a quick BetNow review of their odds and it shows that she’s by far the favorite with Ons Jabeur a distant second in line and Coco Gauff an even-further third.
If Swiatek does not repeat as the champion in Paris, which three players are the most likely to stand in her way and change the course of the women’s tennis season? Let’s take a closer look.
The 2022 Wimbledon champion has figured out how to compete well on a consistent basis. Before she won Wimbledon last year, Rybakina (12/1 to win French Open) had not yet cracked the code and fundamentally turned the corner. She was still searching for her game, still pursuing what all athletes hope to attain: a comfort zone in which they have total trust in their abilities and know they are the better player on the court. Rybakina didn’t have that kind of belief or self-assurance before her Wimbledon title, but in 2023, she has truly put all the pieces together and learned how to be great all the time. Sometimes Rybakina dominates opponents, but a lot of the time she simply overcomes a bad start and responds well to pressure. It used to be that Rybakina had a hard time winning; now she has a hard time losing. She made the final of the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami, the three biggest and most important tournaments from the first three months of the season. She beat Swiatek at the Australian Open. She is ready to do this.
The American has been a consistent quarterfinal-level player at major tournaments and 1,000-point tournaments on the WTA for the past year. Pegula (+1700) hasn’t won huge championships, but she regularly makes the end stages of important events. She lost to Swiatek in the quarterfinals of the French Open one year ago. She wouldn’t enter a rematch (if it happens) as the favorite, but she would know what to expect and will have had meaningful experience which could help her turn the tables this time around.
Pegula is a leading upset candidate for Swiatek if only because she would meet the champion later in the tournament, not earlier. In the earlier rounds, Swiatek is highly unlikely to face a player who is talented enough to take her down.
The Greek is inconsistent on tour, and she had a very difficult and bumpy 2022 season. She plays a lot of up and down matches instead of moving steadily through tournaments and opponents, so she isn’t nearly as reliable as the other players mentioned above (Rybakina and Pegula) in terms of making the quarterfinals or semifinals of a major tournament. However, Sakkari (+1700 to win French Open) – if she can rediscover her game and her winning ways – would make a challenging foe for Swiatek. She is the last person to beat Swiatek at Roland Garros, having done so in 2021. She is the only player to have beaten Swiatek at Roland Garros over the past three years. Sakkari is physically strong and definitely one of the fittest players on the WTA Tour. If Swiatek’s serve is not firing accurately, Sakkari can create long rallies and turn the match into a physical endurance test, her best chance of prevailing.