Bertens, Kontaveit and Kasatkina – Can Ostapenko's Roland Garros fairytale be matched?

Jelena Ostapenko's unlikely French Open success of last year has several players hoping for similar feats in 2018.

Published : May 25, 2018 21:41 IST

Serena Williams may be returning to the major stage, but the French Open women's draw appears wide open once more.

Jelena Ostapenko's incredible run to success at Roland Garros last year – when the Latvian was ranked 47th in the world – will have many dreaming of an unlikely grand slam success.

Now 20, Ostapenko became the first non-seeded player in the Open era to win the women's singles title in Paris. Ostapenko enters the tournament this year as the world number five and defending champion, and not quite carrying the form on clay she did in 2017 (a 14-4 win-loss ratio before the French Open).

That form, confidence and some luck in the draw – Angelique Kerber and the German's conqueror Ekaterina Makarova fell in the opening two rounds – were capitalised on in amazing fashion by Ostapenko.

But what are the chances of a remarkable repeat at the year's second grand slam, even with Williams and Maria Sharapova back and Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina among those eyeing a first major title?

While a surprise is possible, it appears unlikely a player will come from as far back as 47th in the rankings.

Kiki Bertens, the world number 18, is a former semi-finalist at Roland Garros and the Dutchwoman carries some fine form into the 2018 edition.

The 26-year-old went into this week's Nuremberg Cup with an 11-3 record on clay this year, including wins over Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Madison Keys, Caroline Garcia and Anastasija Sevastova.

That started with the Charleston Open title in April, a tournament at which Ostapenko was a finalist last year.

Only Petra Kvitova and Elise Mertens (13) had won more matches on clay this year, but the latter's victories have been uninspiring, and the Belgian was thrashed by Halep in Madrid.

Ranked a career-high seventh in the world, Garcia made the quarter-finals at the French Open last year and is in decent form.

Anett Kontaveit, the world number 25, also shapes as a potential contender, the Estonian having made semi-finals in Stuttgart and Rome. 

The red-hot Svitolina and Kvitova have ended Kontaveit's past two tournaments, leaving the 22-year-old needing some luck – or to quickly take another step up – to claim an unlikely breakthrough.

A talented junior who won the girls' title at the French Open in 2014, Daria Kasatkina, 21, picked up a few much-needed wins in Madrid and Rome.

Outside the top 50, the powerful Kaia Kanepi and Camila Giorgi could be dangerous.

Kanepi is an unconvincing 7-3 on clay this year, but the 32-year-old Estonian won the junior crown in France in 2001, while Giorgi is yet to hit top form in 2018.

As it did a year ago, it will take a spectacular run for another surprise champion, but if things all fall into place, Ostapenko's feat could yet be matched.

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