UNSEEDED SERENA FACES
KRISTYNA PLISKOVA AT FRENCH OPEN
Ashley Marshall | May 24, 2018
Serena Williams will return to the Grand Slam stage against Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, when the French Open gets underway in Paris on Sunday.
The last time Williams competed at this level was when she lifted the Australian Open trophy in January 2017 while pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia, to whom she gave birth in September.
Williams, controversially unseeded by tournament organizers at Roland Garros, is in the same half of the draw as world No. 1 Simona Halep and in the same quarter of the draw as Garbiñe Muguruza, against whom she could play in the final eight.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion would meet either world No. 17 Ashleigh Barty or Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the second round and possibly 11th-seeded Julia Goerges in Round 3.
There could also be a blockbuster match against Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, although the Russian would likely need to get past No. ADVERTISEMENT 6 seed Karolina Pliskova, the 2016 US Open runner-up, in her third match.
Among the American seeds, No. 9 Venus Williams will face Qiang Wang of China, reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens will play a qualifier, 13th-seeded Madison Keys will meet fellow American Sachia Vickery, and No. 15 Coco Vandeweghe will play Laura Siegemund of Germany.
Venus is in the same quarter of the draw as No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina – the pair could meet in the quarterfinals – and defending champion and fifth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, whom she would be scheduled to meet in Round 4.
Also in that quarter is Keys, who may play Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the third round before a possible showdown with Svitolina in the Round of 16.
Additionally, there are a number of U.S. women set for primetime matches, including Alison Riske, who will face world No. 1 Halep in the first round, and Danielle Collins, who drew No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki.
USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge winner Taylor Townsend will face another wild card, Myrtille Georges of France, before possibly meeting the winner of Halep and Riske in Round 2.
On the men’s side, two all-American battles will take place. The first is between top-ranked U.S. man John Isner and USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge winner Noah Rubin, while the second pits 12th-seeded Sam Querrey against talented 20-year-old Frances Tiafoe.
Tomas Berdych could be a possible third-round opponent for the winner of the Isner-Rubin tangle, with No. 5 seed Juan Martin del Potro likely lurking in the Round of 16 should they advance to the end of the first week in the French capital.
Elsewhere in the draw, No. 14 seed Jack Sock will face a qualifier in the first round and could meet fellow rising star Denis Shapovalov in the third round, while Steve Johnson will face No. 25 seed Adrian Mannarino in his opening match.
Denis Kudla, who advanced to the main draw through the qualifying tournament, has an almost 50-50 chance of avoiding a seed in the first round. Of the eight seeds slated to play one of the 20 qualifiers, Kudla will likely want to avoid the likes of Sock, seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem and 2016 French Open champion Novak Djokovic.
Top seed and 2017 US Open champion Rafael Nadal will open the defense of his French Open title against Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine and would face either Joao Sousa of Portugal or Guido Pella of Argentina in Round 2.