2023 French Open draw: Iga Swiatek lands nightmare draw in Paris

Iga Swiatek wins 2022 French Open

Defending champion Iga Swiatek could not have asked for a more difficult path in the 2023 French Open draw as she has once again ended up in the same half as Elena Rybakina.

The world No 1 will open her campaign against Cristina Bucsa from Spain, but she also has former Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova, last year’s runner-up Coco Gauff and Rybakina on her side of the draw.

Swiatek is projected to meet 2021 Paris winner Krejcikova – who faces Lesia Tsurenko in her opener – in the last 16 – although the 13th seeded Czech will likely have to get past either former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka or 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu in the third round.

If Swiatek does get through the first four matches then there could be a repeat of last year’s final in the last eight as sixth seed Gauff is also in the quarter. The American starts her run against Rebecca Masarova from Spain.

There is no easing up for the player who gets through Quarter 1 as the in-form Rybakina – who has already beaten Swiatek three times this year – is likely to await in the semi-final. The Kazakh star will face a lucky loser or a qualifier in round one with 23rd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova likely to be the first big hitter she faces in the third round.

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Ons Jabeur is also in Rybakina’s quarter with the Tunisian kicking off her campaign against Lucia Bronzetti from Italy while two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova a projected fourth-round opponent.

The bottom half of the draw is headlined by world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka and the reigning Australian Open champion has a tricky opener against Marta Kostyak. The Ukrainian has made no secret of the fact that she is not on speaking terms with Sabalenka or other Belarusian players on the WTA Tour.

Sabalenka could face former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova or former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the fourth round with either fifth seed Caroline Garcia or 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko likely to be her quarter-final opponent.

Jessica Pegula – who faces fellow American Danielle Collins in the first round – is projected to reach the fourth from Section 6 along with 15th seed Luidmila Samsonova.

The winner of that section will likely take on either eighth seed Maria Sakkari or 12th seed Belinda Bencic in the quarter-final with Sabalenka expected to await in the semi-final.

READ MORE: ‘It’s Iga Swiatek versus the field’ at Roland Garros