French Open: 5 key talking points from the women’s draw

Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff
Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff have faced 11 times previously.

The draw for the women’s singles event at the French Open has been made, with some fascinating scenarios thrown up.

All eyes will now be on how things pan out when action begins on Sunday, with only one woman able to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in just over two weeks.

We look at the key talking points in the aftermath of a dramatic draw.

Swiatek and Osaka set for showdown

As soon as the unseeded players were placed, you could here gasps from the tennis world when Naomi Osaka was placed in the match below Iga Swiatek.

Swiatek has initially drawn a qualifier or lucky loser and Osaka will face Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti to start her campaign, but a round two contest between two superstars of the game looks probable.

There is little doubt that, as the current world No 1 and three-time French Open winner, Swiatek will be a significant favourite in this encounter – should it materialise.

However, despite the gulf in ranking and clay pedigree this is still a match-up that will get tongues wagging and bring huge attention to the women’s draw.

Get your popcorn on standby for this one.

Read More: French Open women’s draw – Iga Swiatek v Naomi Osaka potential round 2, Sabalenka and Rybakina in same half

Gauff draws Swiatek short straw

With Swiatek such a heavy favourite to win the title, it was also going to be intriguing to see whether Coco Gauff or Elena Rybakina was drawn to be her projected semi-final opponent.

And, unfortunately for the third seed, it is the US star who will likely have to beat the four-time major winner if she wants to reach the final.

Gauff has lost to Swiatek at Roland Garros the past two years – in the 2022 final, and 2023 quarter-finals – and has a pretty dismal 1-10 record against the Polish star.

The American’s draw is comparatively kind early on, but her chances of a second Slam coming in Paris this fortnight are undeniably dented.

Rybakina v Sabalenka semi-final clash?

Swiatek and Gauff on one side of the draw means that it is Rybakina and second seed Aryna Sabalenka on the other.

The prospect of a semi-final encounter between the two is a hugely intriguing one, with contests between the two major winners among the best and most frequent in recent years.

It was reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka who edged their Madrid Open thriller just a few weeks ago, but Rybakina has turned the head-to-head slightly – winning three of their last five matches.

However, while this is not an easy match-up for Sabalenka, the world No 2 may be relieved that she is not set to face Gauff in the last four – with the American having caused a few issues for the Belarusian in the past.

If this semi-final was to happen Rybakina would fancy her chances, but this would likely be seen as a 50/50 contest.

Stronger top half?

Rybakina and Sabalenka may have a tough time against each other in a hypothetical semi-final, but they are arguably on the marginally safer side of the draw.

Three of the four reigning Grand Slam champions – Swiatek, Gauff, and fifth seed Marketa Vondrousova – all find themselves in the top half of the draw.

And they are joined by three-time major finalist Ons Jabeur, with the eighth seed set to face Gauff in the quarter-finals.

2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko and 2021 winner Barbora Krejcikova also find themselves in the top half, as does the in-form 11th seed Danielle Collins, 2023 semi-finalist and 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, and the rapidly rising 18th seed Marta Kostyuk.

Swiatek may be the favourite, but she may have to fend off some stiff competition to reach the final.

Read More: Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka will want to avoid Coco Gauff in French Open draw, says former world No 2

Tough draws for home favourites

Sport and sentimentality rarely mix, and French players may have a pretty bleak time of things in the women’s draw this year.

French No 1 Caroline Garcia is 21st seed but could face former finalist Sofia Kenin in round two, and then likely ninth seed Ostapenko in round three.

The retiring Alize Cornet has been handed a brutal draw against seventh seed Zheng Qinwen, while
Varvara Gracheva has a difficult task against sixth seed Maria Sakkari.

But at least one French player is guaranteed to progress, with Wildcard Fiona Ferro drawn against Diane Parry.