I have previously noted that the women’s draw at the French Open is wide open and this is particularly true of the second quarter. With sixth seed Vera Zvonareva pulling out due to injury, the opportunity is there for other players to challenge for a quarter final place.
Maria Sharapova could be the biggest beneficiary. The three-time Grand Slam winner is feeling her way back after a nightmare run of shoulder problems and this tournament was thought to be too early in her comeback for her to be able to challenge for silverware.
The Russian has slipped to 102nd in the world rankings due to her inactivity and there were serious doubts about her ability to cover the court and play a series of tiring three set matches. These concerns were assuaged by her fine recovery to beat 11th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round, having already gone the distance in winning her opener.
A qualifier awaits in the third round and Sharapova can be excused for looking further ahead. Venus Williams, seeded third, is a potential quarter final opponent, although it would almost be a surprise for the American to reach the last eight, as she is struggling for fluency on her least favourite surface.
She has failed to reach the quarter finals in seven of her 12 Roland Garros appearances. Agnes Szavay could therefore be the biggest obstacle to a potential semi final meeting with number one seed Dinara Safina or holder Ana Ivanovic.
With regards to tennis betting, Sharapova is unlikely to win her first French Open title, as compatriots Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova are just two of the players performing at a higher level. However, with moderate ranking points to protect Sharapova, she should continue her rise up the rankings and arrive at Wimbledon next month as a serious title challenger.
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