French Open 2021: The four Aussie women hopefuls

Ash Barty is chasing a second Roland Garros title. Photo: Tennis Australian

The clay courts of Paris are set to host the 2021 French Open, with four Aussie women booking their spots in the Grand Slam. Australia has a rich history at Roland Garros, with Ash Barty the 2019 champion and nine total championships in the women’s bracket.

The second Grand Slam of the year kickstarts a huge ten weeks on the tennis calendar, with Wimbledon and the Olympics following in quick succession. These are the Aussie women hopefuls in the 2021 French Open.

French Open Aussie Women: Ash Barty

Australia’s best hope of French Open triumph rests in the ultra-capable hands of Ash Barty.

She heads into Roland Garros as the number one seed, but surprisingly won’t be the favourite. Instead, 2020 French Open winner Iga Swiatek holds that mantle. Barty won’t be concerned; the last time she was on the Parisian dirt she was holding the 2019 Grand Slam aloft.

The Australian enters Roland Garros with a 13-3 record on clay in 2021 and carried a 16-game win streak into the Madrid Open final. Barty beat out Swiatek on the way to the final, but fell to Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.

Holding Barty back from favouritism is her injury two weeks ago. In the Italian Open quarter-finals Barty succumbed to a right arm issue and retired up a set. She has brushed off concerns regarding the injury leading into Roland Garros, but there remains a level of concern having not played a match since.

In the first round match, Barty faces 70th ranked Bernarda Pera. The American clay court specialist holds a 6-5 record on the surface in 2021, and will head into the matchup as a heavy underdog.

Looking ahead, Barty can expect stiff competition in her quarter from Ukrainian Elina Svitolina. The fifth seed enjoys the slower Parisian courts with a quarter-finals appearance last year. If the Australian is able to survive her quarter, she could set up a blockbuster semi-final with Swiatek.

French Open Aussie Women: Ajla Tomljanovic

76th-ranked woman in the world, Tomljanovic impressed in the Australian Open by taking it right up to Simona Halep in the second round. She has gotten 14 clay court matches under her belt since, but retired at the WTA Belgrade with a left hip complaint. She hasn’t played a match since that injury over a week ago.

The second-ranked Australian woman has won the only previous meeting with Kozlova, beating her on a hard court in straight sets 7-6 6-1 at WTA Hua Hin in 2019. A different surface may see a different result, but the Aussie will like her chances heading into her first round match.

Looking ahead, Tomljanovic could face third seed Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, who comes into the tournament as one of the favourites.

Ajla Tomljanovic has had a good start to 2021. Photo: Tennis Australia

French Open Aussie Women: Astra Sharma

Sharma enters the 2021 French Open as a wildcard. Fresh off the back of the first WTA singles title her career at Charleston, she is in the form of her life and has soared into 124th in the world.

The Perth native defeated seeded players including Ons Jabeur on the way to her maiden title, and will back herself in to claim scalps at Roland Garros. The clay courts of Charleston suited the Australian 25-year-old.

In the first round, Sharma faces Maria Bara Irina. The 122nd-ranked clay court specialist will be a tough task, and Sharma will enter as a slight underdog. From there, a potential rematch with Jabeur awaits before a possible clash with fellow Australian Ash Barty. Sharma will try to better her second round appearance of the 2020 French Open.

Astra Sharma won her maiden WTA singles title at Charleston in 2021. Photo: Tennis Australia

More French Open News

So close yet so far: Who missed out on a French Open spot?

French Open Aussie Women: Storm Sanders

Sanders has rocketed through qualifying to make her first Grand Slam at the French Open in 2021. The 26-year-old turned heads earlier in the year when she made it to the quarter-finals for the Adelaide Open, but was unable to navigate Australian Open qualifying.

Her form leading into Roland Garros has been promising on clay courts. She has an 11-4 record on the surface in 2021, including three straight sets victories to progress through Grand Slam qualifying as her game went to another level on the Parisian red dirt.

Sanders faces a tough task first up in the form of Elise Mertens. The 15th ranked Belgian has had a quiet clay court season, but possesses immense talent at the age of 25. It will be a tough task to get through her first round match-up. However, the world 161-ranked Sanders boasts the greater form and her baseline play will suit the slow clay courts.

Storm Sanders is a qualifier for the French Open. Photo: Tennis Australia

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About Jasper Chellappah 161 Articles
Jasper writes on Aussie Rules, basketball, tennis and netball for The Inner Sanctum. His main area is player analysis and under-age competitions, with a keen focus on the AFL Draft. He also lends his voice to The Checkside and the SuperCoach Sanctum PODcast each week.

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