The second major of the year begins on Sunday in Paris with 16 matches in the ladies' singles draw. In action at the French Open are both of the Williams sisters, along with Ana Ivanovic, Sara Errani and Sabine Lisicki.
Serena begins her quest for a first title here since 2002 with a rather simple-looking match-up against the powder puff Anna Tatishvili. I expect the latter to be brushed aside with the minimum of fuss by the world number one. Arantxa Rus should also be departing from the tournament with few games under her belt, as she faces the defensive wizardry of Errani at 10am.
The best bet for me in Sunday’s matches is to side with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a comfortable win over Andrea Hlavackova in a match that begins at 10am on Court 3. This will be the first meeting between the pair, but Hlavackova has a woeful record here. She has never won a match in the main draw here – and only two lifetime in the qualifiers.
The Czech has been playing in the Bundesliga lately to work on her fitness, which has been very suspect this season. She still doesn’t look fit to me, which won’t help her against the heavy hitting of A-Pavs, who landed the title on slow clay in Oeiras a few weeks ago.
That title run and a busy schedule before that (she claimed another title in Monterrey on hard courts) has seen the Russian find her best form. Now under the tutelage of Martina Hingis, she should be too classy for Hlavackova today.
The options in this one are for A-Pav to win with a handicap of minus 4.5 games or with a handicap of minus 1.5 sets. I prefer the latter at around 1.70 to begin proceedings on Sunday.
Best bet: Back Pavlyuchenkova minus 1.5 sets to beat Hlavackova at 1.70