Ashleigh Barty, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka: How the French Open draw shapes up for tennis’ top stars

Tennis: How the French Open draw shapes up for tennis’ top seeds

Ashleigh Barty and Iga Świątek are both technically defending champions at the French Open. The Polish youngster was a surprise winner in 2020, while Barty sat out last season’s competition, having won her maiden Grand Slam at Roland-Garros back in 2019.

Now, the two find themselves in the same half of this year’s draw and could meet one another in the semi-finals.

It’s unfortunate scheduling for both players to some extent. Świątek is undoubtedly one of the finest clay court players in the game right now, but at just 19 years of age, is still gradually climbing the rankings and, therefore, just the eighth seed.

That being said, the world number nine won the tournament as an unseeded player last October and saw off the likes of Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin in straight sets.

Coco Gauff is another player in the top-half bracket and is the youngest woman to be seeded in a Slam (24th) since 2006. The 17-year-old is in line to face fellow compatriot Jennifer Brady in the third round, however, and Barty in the fourth, if she reaches that stage.

On the other side of the competition, Serena Williams appears to have a more favourable route to the final. Despite being seeded seventh, the 23-time major winner has avoided Barty and Świątek and will not meet a top 30 ranked opponent until the third round at the earliest.

If Williams makes it to the quarters, she could set up a clash with world number four Aryna Sabalenka, who won the Madrid Open earlier this month.

Naomi Osaka is the top-ranked player in the bottom half of the draw. The Japanese prodigy has struggled on clay throughout her career and is still searching for her first title on the surface.

Provided the 23-year-old gets through the first four rounds, Osaka has the potential to face sixth seed and Canadian sensation Bianca Andreescu in the last eight.

For Britain, Johanna Konta and Heather Watson will be the sole representatives at Roland-Garros. The former is seeded 19th, despite her ongoing injury struggles and may well meet Andreescu in the fourth round.

Watson is in the top-half bracket and faces Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas in the first round, with victory likely setting up an encounter with 14th seed Elise Mertens.

Here’s how we think the semi-finals could potentially shape up:

Barty vs Świątek
Sabalenka vs Andreescu

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