French Open 2017: 'Favourite' Simona Halep faces Elina Svitolina test in quarters, Karolina Pliskova targets top spot

The women's tournament will have a first-time Grand Slam champion on Saturday. Two of the favourites, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova, are in quarter-final action on Wednesday as a maiden major and the world top ranking come into view.

Chance beckons for Halep and Svitolina

File image of Simona Halep. AFP

File image of Simona Halep. AFP

Simona Halep arrived in Paris billed as a leading title contender and she hasn't disappointed through four rounds. The Romanian third seed is yet to surrender a set, shaking off an ankle injury that cast serious doubt on her participation in Paris. After crashing out of the Australian Open in round one, Halep's form steadily improved and she won on clay in Madrid before finishing runner-up to Elina Svitolina in Rome. The Ukrainian leads the women's game with 35 wins this season, lifting an impressive four titles – her other triumphs coming at Taipei City, Dubai and Istanbul. Svitolina has matched her best run at a Grand Slam after making the last eight at the French Open for the second time in three years, but she needed to rally from 5-2 down in the final set to overcome world 290 Petra Martic in round four. A first-time Grand Slam champion will be crowned on Saturday and the winner could well be the one who survives this match.

Head-to-head: Series level 1-1

Halep says: "I need to play again, because I lost that final in Rome with the injury. I was not happy about that. Now I have another chance, another challenge."

Svitolina says: "I think everyone knows who remains in the draw. Yeah, everyone is trying their best to get the title, because it's a big opportunity."

Fast facts

Halep: Age - 25; World ranking - 4; Prize money - $17,219,302; Career titles - 15; Grand Slam titles - 0; French Open best - Runner-up (2014)

Svitolina: Age - 22; World ranking - 6; Prize money - $5,553,590; Career titles - 8; Grand Slam titles - 0; French Open best - Quarter-final (2015, 2017)

Path to the quarter-final

Halep

1st rd: bt Jana Cepelova (SVK) 6-2, 6-3

2nd rd: bt Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-4, 6-3

3rd rd: bt Daria Kasatkina (RUS x26) 6-0, 7-5

4th rd: bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x21) 6-1, 6-1

Svitolina

1st rd: bt Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3

2nd rd: bt Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

3rd rd: bt Magda Linette (POL) 6-4, 7-5

4th rd: bt Petra Martic (CRO) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5

Pliskova has title, world top spot in sight

File image of Karolina Pliskova. AP

File image of Karolina Pliskova. AP

French hope Caroline Garcia had never got beyond the third round of a Slam before this year's Roland Garros. The 23-year-old survived a raw test of nerves to defeat compatriot Alize Cornet in the last 16 in a tie overshadowed by a bitter feud between the two. She came back from 3-1 and 6-5 down in the final set to see off Hsieh Su-Wei in the third round. Two of her three career titles have come on clay. Second seed and 2016 US Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova, who can take the world number one spot if she gets to the final, also arrived in Paris with a woeful record – in five previous visits, she hadn't got beyond the second round. Garcia won the pair's only previous meeting on clay in Madrid two years ago. Neither player has faced a seeded opponent so far.

Head-to-head: Series level 2-2

Garcia says: "Sometimes I did panic a little bit (as a result of her poor record in Paris). I didn't really know what I was doing, but I worked hard, I kept believing in what I was doing."

Pliskova says: "The crowd is definitely going to be tough. I'm expecting it will be huge and terrible. I played Fed Cup in France, so I don't think it's going to be worse than it was there."

Fast facts

Garcia: Age - 23; World ranking - 27; Prize money - $4,311,061; Career titles - 3; Grand Slam titles - 0; French Open best - Quarter-final (2017)

Pliskova: Age - 25; World ranking - 3; Prize money - $8,284,333; Career titles - 8; Grand Slam titles - 0; French Open best - Quarter-final (2017)

Path to quarter-final

Garcia

1st rd: bt Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-2, 6-2

2nd rd: bt Chloe Paquet (FRA) 7-5, 6-4

3rd rd: Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 6-4, 4-6, 9-7

4th rd: bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2, 6-4

Pliskova

1st rd: bt Zheng Saisai (CHN) 7-5, 6-2

2nd rd: bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2, 4-6, 6-3

3rd rd: bt Carine Witthoeft (GER) 7-5, 6-1

4th rd: bt Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4


Published Date: Jun 07, 2017 12:45 pm | Updated Date: Jun 07, 2017 12:49 pm


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