In the first Grand Slam tournament that did not feature either Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova since 2002, the 2017 French Open certainly provided some huge surprises for everyone. From the world number one being the first top seed to crash out in the opening round in history to Latvia having its first ever representative in a Grand Slam final, it has truly been an eventful tournament.
There was more drama during the final itself, with Simona Halep wasting a 6-4 3-0 lead with break points for a double break advantage in the second set, and went on to lose five straight games from being 3-1 up in the final set. No one could have expected that Jelena Ostapenko would have the fortnight of her life and clinch a Grand Slam title in just her 18th ever match at the Grand Slam level. Let us take a look at how the top women and rising stars performed in the biggest clay court tournament of the year, and look at their grades which were based on their results and performance.
Angelique Kerber: D
The world number one Angelique Kerber’s poor results this year continued to plague her as the German became the first female top seed to crash out in the opening round of the tournament. In action on the first day of the tournament, Kerber faced a very tough opponent in Ekaterina Makarova as the Russian poses a huge danger after being ranked in the Top 10 just two years ago and had won a doubles Grand Slam title in Paris back in 2013. Failing to live up to expectations once again, Kerber did not even manage to challenge Makarova on the clay courts as she won just a mere four games to fall in straight sets.
Karolina Pliskova: A-
No one would have expected second seed Karolina Pliskova to mark her second best performance in a Grand Slam thus far at this tournament, carving a deep run into the second week and was just one win away from claiming the top spot in the rankings but fell to Simona Halep in the semifinals. Getting through some tough matches in her path to the semifinals, Pliskova herself was also surprised by her own run. After her win at the quarterfinals stage, the Czech confessed, “Coming into this tournament, there were a few people who told me, ‘You have to be in the final to be No1’. I was, like, there is no chance I make final here.”
Simona Halep: A
Coming into the tournament being the huge favourite, Simona Halep overcame a broken ligament in her left ankle and went against the pressure to make the second Roland Garros final of her career. Defeating some quality opponents in the first week, Halep progressed to the second week after prevailing against Daria Kasatkina in straight sets, saving multiple set points in the process. Then, she outclassed Carla Suarez Navarro after giving up just a mere two games, before mounting the biggest comeback win of her career when she ousted fifth seed Elina Svitolina in three sets, saving a match point along the way.
The Romanian had a confidence-boosting victory over an inspired Karolina Pliskova, who would have gotten the number one spot in the rankings with a win, in the semifinals to reach the final, where she had the chance to reach the top spot with the title. Despite leading by a set and a break with a couple of break points for a double break advantage against a surprise package in Jelena Ostapenko, Halep was unable to go against the Latvian’s offensive play as she eventually fell in three sets, gifting Ostapenko her first ever Grand Slam title. Halep was so close, yet so far from the title as throwing away the huge lead in the final was the only negative aspect of her fortnight, but everything else just points towards a successful grass court season for the runner-up.
Garbine Muguruza: B-
Being the defending champion here in Paris and given the toughest draw out of any top seeds, Garbine Muguruza came into the tournament with some heavy pressure on her shoulders as she had to reach the final to be able to remain in the Top 10 after the fortnight. Unexpectedly, she managed to ease past former champion Francesca Schiavone in the opening round before avenging her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix loss against Anett Kontaveit, the Spaniard made her return to the second week as she got past the dangerous Yulia Putintseva in the third round.
However, her title defense ended when home favourite Kristina Mladenovic ousted her in three tough sets, with the crowd going against the defending champion and caused her to lose her composure in the midst of the match, falling out of the Top 10 eventually. Nevertheless, it was some impressive fight put up by Muguruza throughout the tournament.
Elina Svitolina: B-
Elina Svitolina had the golden opportunity to clinch her first ever Grand Slam title after managing to reach the quarterfinals where she set up a blockbuster meeting with Simona Halep there. Despite not looking 100 percent in the first week and had to whisker past Tsvetana Pironkova and Magda Linette, Svitolina showed some great mental toughness when she produced a miraculous comeback from 2-5 0-30 down in the final set against Petra Martic, playing some solid tennis during that run to make her second quarterfinal appearance in Paris.
Despite going up 6-3 5-1 against the third seed Simona Halep, who looked out of sorts, the Ukrainian wasted a match point and the Romanian found her way to comeback and prevail in three sets, serving a bagel in the process. Nevertheless, Svitolina still showed some mentality of a champion after her loss as she mentioned in her press conference, “But I don’t really need to talk about this match as, like, a bad experience or something. I think it’s good. Okay, I am sad today, but tomorrow is gonna be another day, you know, and life continues. It’s nothing I can do.”
Dominika Cibulkova: C
Having some favourable opening matches to start the tournament with, Dominika Cibulkova looked to carve a deep run here in Paris to get her season ongoing with a positive result. Looking very impressive in her first round win against Lara Arruabarrena where she just conceded a mere three games, Cibulkova seemed on course for a run into the second week for the first time since 2012. However, she fell to a shock defeat against lucky-loser Ons Jabeur in the second set as she started spraying unforced errors, crashing out of the tournament in straight sets. It was yet another disappointing tournament for the Slovakian, who is currently outside the Top 20 of the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard.
Johanna Konta: D
There was a huge surprise in the first round as 7th seed Johanna Konta, who was given a favourable draw, crashed out to the tricky Hsieh Su-wei in three sets. The Brit looked on course for a comfortable victory after strolling to win the first set 6-1, but failed to convert three break points at 5-5 in the second set and Hsieh continued to wow everyone with her amazing play, clinching the first Top 10 victory of her seasoned career on her worst surface. It was a lacklustre performance from Konta, who remained winless in Paris.
Svetlana Kuznetsova: C
Being one of the huge title favourites before the tournament, Svetlana Kuznetsova fell to a shock defeat in the fourth round. A second weak appearance at a Grand Slam tournament may seem like a good result to most of the players, but this is definitely not satisfactory in the Russian’s standards. With this probably being Kuznetsova’s last realistic chance at winning a Grand Slam and returning to the top five in the rankings (something she would have achieved had she beaten Wozniacki), it can be considered much of a pity as the former world number two crashed out in the fourth round unexpectedly against Caroline Wozniacki after triumphing in three consecutive matches which lasted longer than two hours, including the longest match of the women’s tournament thus far against Zhang Shuai.
Rising stars (21 years old or younger)
The champion, Jelena Ostapenko: A+
At the start of the tournament, no one would have placed a bet on Jelena Ostapenko to prevail in the open draw. Coming from a set down in her first round match against Louisa Chirico, the Latvian stormed to the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career after defeating more quality players. Triumphing over former finalist Samantha Stosur in the first round, Ostapenko’s dream run continued when she prevailed against former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals and soon made her Grand Slam final debut after beating the crafty Timea Bacsinszky in three sets.
Coming from 4-6 0-3 down in her first ever Grand Slam final, Ostapenko became the first ever Latvian to win a Grand Slam title and created further history when she won the first title of her career at a Grand Slam, becoming the first unseeded woman to lift the trophy in the open era of tennis. She also became the youngest player to lift a Grand Slam title since Maria Sharapova did so at the 2006 US Open. It was truly an impressive tournament for the Latvian, who will now rise into the Top 20 of the rankings.
Daria Kasatkina: C
Being tipped for a deep run here in Paris, Daria Kasatkina overcame an ankle injury suffered two weeks ago at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia as she battled through her first matches in Paris against Yanina Wickmayer and young prodigy Marketa Vondrousova without losing a single set. Her first tough challenge came in the third round as she faced the eventual runner-up Simona Halep, and looked to provide a tough fight. However, she lost the first set in a bagel scoreline and wasted three set points in the second to fall in straight sets. It was a particularly disappointing performance from the Russian, who had the golden opportunity to progress deep in the tournament but instead failed to convert her opportunities well.
Anett Kontaveit: B-
Anett Kontaveit came into the French Open with high expectations from the public after reaching the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia and earning victories over Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza in the process. After defeating Monica Niculescu in the opening round, the Estonian had a rematch with the defending champion as she looked to create the huge upset once again. Despite leading by a set and a break, the youngster was unable to close it out and allowed Muguruza to take the hard-fought win. Nevertheless, it was some great performances put up by Kontaveit as she displayed some world-class offensive tennis throughout her both matches, showing an attitude of a champion by never giving up.
Marketa Vondrousova: B
Marketa Vondrousova strolled through the qualifying rounds losing just a mere total of seven games in all her three matches combined, even against quality opponents such as Anna Blinkova. Moving on to the main draw, the public had its eyes on the young Czech prodigy as she cruised to her first ever Grand Slam main draw win against Amandine Hesse, losing just one game in under an hour of play. Her first tough challenge of the week, she had to go against the 26th seed Daria Kasatkina in the second round. An elbow injury seemed to be hindering the Czech as she was constantly bothered by it in the latter stages of the match. Nevertheless, she still managed to put up a tough fight and trouble the Russian, ending her first ever Grand Slam campaign on a positive note despite the loss.
Timea Bacsinszky: A-
Timea Bacsinszky had a surprising run to the semifinals at the French Open once again, replicating her run from 2015. Thought to be unlucky to be drawn in a tough quarter where Venus Williams and Dominika Cibulkova all loomed in the latter stages, Bacsinszky eased to the second week of the tournament without losing a set and lost no more than an incredible two games in a set in her opening three matches. After wasting a 5-1 lead in the first set against Venus Williams, Bacsinszky lost six straight games before conceding another three games in the remainder of the match as she marked her third consecutive Roland Garros quarterfinal appearance.
There, she upset the red-hot Kristina Mladenovic with some amazing topspin shots, triumphing in straight sets to earn the golden opportunity to progress to her first ever Grand Slam final. However, her run came to a sudden halt against the talented youngster Jelena Ostapenko in three sets, falling short of a return to the Top 20 and a debut appearance in a Grand Slam final. Nevertheless, it was an impressive run and the Swiss would have regained some confidence with this unexpected result.
Samantha Stosur: B-
After winning the title in Strasbourg before coming into the French Open, Samantha Stosur was yet another dark horse who had a favourable draw. The Australian looked to be playing some perfect tennis in the opening rounds as she strolled to the second week without losing a set, with victories over Kristina Kucova, Kirsten Flipkens and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. In the fourth round, she lost to the eventual surprise winner Jelena Ostapenko in three sets as the former finalist complained about a hand injury in the midst of the match. Leading by a set, Stosur struggled to hit her powerful groundstrokes later on, “From 5-1 in that first set, it was just really, really painful and just, yeah, wasn’t going away. So yesterday I barely hit and just tried to manage it.” She further added on, “It’s just every time I impact or grip my racquet, swing it on that side, it’s just been really, really sore.”
Petra Kvitova: B
With this being Petra Kvitova’s comeback tournament after a terrifying knife attack during last December, the Czech exceeded expectations and unexpectedly produced some excellent performances in both of her matches. Easing to a comfortable victory over Julia Boserup in the first round after losing just five games, Kvitova fell in the second round against the hard-hitting Bethanie Mattek-Sands despite looking in great form. Nevertheless, it was an encouraging fight put up by the returning Kvitova, whose left hand looked to be recovering well.
Kristina Mladenovic: B+
Kristina Mladenovic managed to affirm her status as a dark horse for the title as she reached the second week of her home Grand Slam for the first time in her career. Getting through a huge scare in the opening round, the Frenchwoman was forced to battle past Jennifer Brady 9-7 in the deciding set and whiskered through to the fourth round as she defeated yet another American in Shelby Rogers, with an 8-6 scoreline in the final set. In both matches, Mladenovic displayed some great mental toughness and recovered from a huge deficit to triumph in front of her home fans.
She then upset defending champion Garbine Muguruza in a highly-anticipated fourth round match, progressing to the quarterfinals where she fell to Timea Bacsinszky in a match plagued by rain. Nevertheless, Mladenovic put on some impressive performances to give herself a huge chance to progress to her first ever Grand Slam final but just fell short at the end. This tournament is surely just a stepping stone for the 13th seed, and she would definitely break new heights in the near future.
Petra Martic: A-
After missing a massive 10 months of action due to a back injury, Petra Martic made a return to professional tennis with a bang as she stormed to the second week of the French Open for just the second time in her career. Getting through the qualifying rounds, Martic created a huge upset against the ailing Madison Keys in the second round and defeated 17th seed and dark horse Anastasija Sevastova within just a shocking 48 minutes of play, losing just two games along the way.
Martic’s Cinderella run almost continued in the fourth round as she owned a 2-5 0-30 lead in the final set against title favourite Elina Svitolina, but lost 20 of the last 24 points of the match to throw away the huge lead and stop her dream comeback. Nevertheless, she was not very disheartened by the loss and was grateful that she was able to play professional tennis once again, “When I got injured, my only hope was that I would get a second chance so I can play some of my best tennis again.”
Agnieszka Radwanska: C-
Agnieszka Radwanska’s poor season continued at the French Open despite progressing to the third round. It has truly been a rout for the Pole after being ranked outside the Top 30 in the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard, and an exit from the Top 10 of the official rankings looks to be likely in the near future. Fortunately, Radwanska managed to earn some points here in Paris as she improved from her first round appearance last year by easing to the third round, suffering a huge scare against Alison Van Uytvanck in the process.
However, she was totally outclassed by the crafty Alize Cornet in the third round, falling in straight sets after managing to win just a mere three games as she failed to hold her service game for a single time throughout the match. She looked out-of-sorts and lacked the agility she used to possess in previous years, losing that fight in her and with her forehand definitely not looking at its best.
How did the Top 8 players in the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard perform?
Elina Svitolina | Quarterfinals (l. Simona Halep)
Karolina Pliskova | Semifinals (l. Simona Halep)
Johanna Konta | First Round (l. Hsieh Su-wei)
Caroline Wozniacki | Quarterfinals (l. Jelena Ostapenko)
Simona Halep | Runner-up (l. Jelena Ostapenko)
Venus Williams | Fourth Round (l. Timea Bacsinszky)
Kristina Mladenovic | Quarterfinals (l. Timea Bacsinszky)
Svetlana Kuznetsova | Fourth Round (l. Caroline Wozniacki)
Jelena Ostapenko’s magical Cinderella run to the title puts her into contention to qualify for the WTA Finals for the first time in her career as she rises 21 spots to be placed fourth in the leaderboard all of a sudden after adding 2000 points to her ranking.
Simona Halep rises to the top spot with her run to the final and looked on course to qualify for the WTA Finals for the fourth straight year. Already earning the same number of points this year as the eighth qualifier for last year’s WTA Finals, Halep’s next goal should be making yet another Grand Slam final and the number one spot in the official rankings.
With her shocking first round exit, Johanna Konta falls five spots in the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard as she finds herself at the eighth spot currently. Similarly, the top-ranked Elina Svitolina fell off the top spot after wasting a match point against Simona Halep and is now at the third spot.
Timea Bacsinszky’s impressive run brings her in contention for a spot in the WTA Elite Trophy all of a sudden, rising a massive 44 spots to be placed at the 16th position in the leaderboard. The last time the Swiss reached the semifinals of Roland Garros, she managed to be an alternate for the WTA Finals before withdrawing due to an injury. Following close behind is Caroline Garcia, whose quarterfinal run brings her into the Top 20. With her explosive game suiting most courts, the Frenchwoman can break new heights if she were to keep up the high level of play she displayed in Paris.
Unseeded players who managed to reach the second week of the tournament also had a remarkable rise in the leaderboard as Veronica Cepede Royg, who narrowly lost to Karolina Pliskova in the fourth round, finds herself placed inside the Top 60 after her incredible run where Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was a victim of her solid play. Returning from a serious back injury which kept her out of the game for 10 months, Petra Martic rises into the Top 100 after earning 280 points in the tournament, looking poised for some great results in the near future.
Big changes in rankings
Jelena Ostapenko rises to the 12th spot in the rankings after her triumph, and is now just 800 points away from a debut in the Top 10 all of a sudden. Coming out of nowhere to clinch the title, Ostapenko is now the highest-ranked WTA Latvian player for the first time since 2015, overtaking Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian impressively rose 35 spots in the rankings because of the addition of 1990 points after a first round exit in last year’s tournament, allowing her to be the third player born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam title.
Simona Halep rises one spot to be the second-ranked player in the world just behind Angelique Kerber, who actually managed to remain as the best player on tour despite crashing out in the opening round. Being a mere 185 points behind the number one spot currently, Halep just has to put up the level of play she displayed in Paris consistently and she can usurp the top spot in the near future. However, Karolina Pliskova sneaks just behind her as the Czech was also just one win away from being the new world number one but narrowly fell to Halep herself, who was just three games away from taking her first Grand Slam title and the number one ranking.
Timea Bacsinszky was defending quarterfinal points from last year and no one thought that she would be able to replicate that run this year. Nevertheless, she proved everyone wrong and instead added points to her ranking when she could have exited the Top 40 with an early exit. She now edges closer than ever to a return to the Top 20, and is currently just 100 points away from doing so.
Making her first career Grand Slam quarterfinal in her home event, Caroline Garcia reaches a new career-high ranking of 21 and is just 45 points away from entering the Top 20. If she were to be consistent enough to challenge the top players, the Frenchwoman would definitely reach new heights in her career.
2016 semifinalists Kiki Bertens and Samantha Stosur both failed to achieve the same result as they both exited earlier than expected, causing them to fall in the rankings. Fortunately, with their impressive clay court results this year, Bertens only dropped nine spots and Stosur managed to keep herself in the Top 40.
Petra Martic’s unbelievable run now brings her ranking up by 162 spots, keeping her at the 128th spot at the moment. Looking solid throughout the tournament, Martic is poised to rise further in the rankings if she were to be playing at such a high level consistently. A surprise package at this year’s Roland Garros, Veronica Cepede Royg put in some amazing performances to get herself ranked at the 78th position, and improved from her career-high ranking of 95.
Lastly, Caroline Wozniacki finds herself secured in the Top 10 after her surprise run to the quarterfinals. With barely any points to defend until the US Open, the Dane could find herself in the Top 5 of the rankings in the near future. Elina Svitolina’s quarterfinal run also boosted her into a career-high ranking of five, with the ex-defending champion Garbine Muguruza falling out of the Top 10 after a fourth round exit.