Karolina Pliskova spoke as realistically as possible about her plans. After a quick exit from the Grand Slam, he said, “My plan is to fly away.”
She has this French Open just like her fellow Top 10 ranking.
Seven of the 10 highest-ranked women’s singles players exited Paris’s two-round action, the highest casualty rate in recent times for women’s tennis in slams. The Women’s Tennis Association had to rewind for 1976, the last time only three or fewer Top-10 women’s seeds entered the 32nd round at Roland Garros.
The governing body of men’s tennis has dug up its own stats, though on the opposite end of the spectrum. According to ATP, this French Open marks the first time since 2009 that each of the top 12 men’s singles seeds have advanced to the third round and Grand Slam after Wimbledon in 2011. Denis Shapovalov, the No. 14 seed in the first round, is highly rated for an early exit.
Lots of names are buried in the top 10 women’s seeds at one stage: defending champion Barbara Krejcikova (2nd), 5th and 6th seeds Annette Kontavit and Ones Jaber, and 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza (10th). Add to the bidding farewell to 4th seed Maria Sakkari, Pliskova (8th seed) and Daniel Collins (9th seed) in the second round and you can probably put your hat on for not having followed the path of resentment for Iga Svitek, Paula Badosa and Arena Sabalenka. Not yet, anyway.
“I think they’re losing,” said third seed Badosa after Thursday’s second-round win, and, wow, that’s good. “But in this case, I’m more like, okay, pay attention, because anything can happen.”
If you think the 2021 French Open is the Wild with the top three ranked women falling in the first week, this edition is already on top. In fact, the trend for marquee female players to leave early at Roland Garros has only grown in the last six years.
Last year, seven of the top 10 women’s singles seeds lost in the third round or earlier. However, this included the retirement of Ash Barty in the second round, with Naomi Osaka backing out before her match and the opening round of Bianca Andriescu. The 2020 French Open had five top-10 seeds drop by or before the third round (including one withdrawal), while the 2019 version had six (one retirement) and the 2018 five. At the 2016 and 2017 French Open, six of the top 10 seeds went beyond the third round.
The flawed resentment of women compared to other slam stings is hard at the French Open, which explains why the previous six winners of the tournament were first-time Grand Slam champions. At this year’s Australian Open, for example, only three of the top 10 seeds exited the third round or so, and none of the first. Ditto at the 2021 US Open. Wimbledon has a slightly higher corresponding figure (five for the 2021 and 2019 editions), but the rate and speed of the first week’s departure from the French Open over the past two years has been impressive.
One reason is that some women with the current top-10 crop may feel less comfortable on the soil. The 2022 Australian Open finalist, Collins and Kontaviet, who performed only once a second week in 11 outings in Paris, have produced better and more consistent results in hard courts. The same goes for the undefeated Osaka for the tournament but another big name to walk out of the first round. The real surprise from the current top-10 exit list is Jaber, who came to this French Open with 17-game victories over clay and was a semi-finalist at Sugar last year.
Another aspect of increased unpredictability is those who are not around. The retired Bartey’s all-round, all-court game is a breath of fresh air, highlighted by his lone second-round Grand Slam exit since his first victory in 2019. Serena Williams has not competed since her early retirement in 2021 and has yet to play as a four-time slam champion after Wimbledon and Osaka returned from a mental health break last year.
Next to the top-ranked Sviatec, ride its stability in Paris and break the chain of inconsistency with it.
Seed tracker at Roland Garros
Below are the top 10 women’s singles seeds to exit the third round or earlier at the French Open from 2016:
2022: 7 *
2-Krejcikova (Rd 1), 4-Sugar (Rd 2), 5-Kontaveit (Rd 1), 6-Jaber (Rd 1), 8-Pliskova (Rd 2), 9-Collins (Rd 2), 10- Muguruza (Rd 1)
1-Barty (Rd2, Retired), 2-Osaka (Rd 2, Withdrawn), 3-Sabalenka (Rd 3), 5-Svitolina (Rd 3), 6-Andriesku (Rd 1), 9-Pliskova (Rd2), 10-benzic (Rd 2)
2-Pliskova (Rd 2), 6-S Williams (Rd 2, Withdrawn), 8-Sabalenka (Rd 3), 9-Konta (Rd 1), 10-Azarenka (Rd 2)
1-Osaka (Rd 3), 2-Pliskova (Rd 3), 4-Bertens (Rd 2, Retired), 5-Kerber (Rd 1), 9-Svitolina (Rd 3), 10-S Williams (Rd 3)
4-Svitolina (Rd 3), 5-Ostapenko (Rd 1), 6-Pliskova (Rd 3), 8-Kvitova (Rd 3), 9-V Williams (Rd 1)
1-Kerber (Rd 1), 6-Sibulkova (Rd 2), 7-Konta (Rd 1), 9-Rdwanska (Rd 3)
3-Kerber (Rd 1), 5-Azarenka (Rd 1, Retired), 7-Vinci (Rd 1), 10-Kvitova (Rd 3)
* Updated until Friday