For a player who loves nothing better than to topple the biggest names at the biggest tournaments, Laura Robson was yesterday handed the perfect draw for the French Open, which begins in Paris tomorrow.
The 19-year-old Briton, who has knocked out three Grand Slam champions (Kim Clijsters, Li Na and Petra Kvitova) in the last two Grand Slam events and has beaten Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams in recent weeks, will meet Caroline Wozniacki in the first round. The 22-year-old Dane was world No 1 at the start of last year but has since fallen to No 10 and has endured a torrid time during this clay-court season.
Wozniacki has won only two matches in her five tournaments on clay in the build-up to Roland Garros. She is on a run of five successive defeats, having been beaten by Stefanie Voegele in Charleston, Carla Suarez Navarro in Stuttgart, Yaroslava Shvedova in Madrid, Bojana Jovanovski in Rome and Jie Zheng in Brussels.
Robson has climbed to No 35 in the world rankings and narrowly missed out on being seeded here. “I’m in a good place and playing good tennis so I’m looking forward to getting on court,” she said yesterday.
The Briton recently parted company with her coach and has been working on a temporary basis with Sven Groeneveld, one of the Adidas team. However, Groeneveld will not be able to coach her in the build-up to the Wozniacki match as the Dane is another Adidas player.
Heather Watson, who is playing her first tournament since she was diagnosed with glandular fever two months ago, has been drawn against Voegele, the world No 58.
Watson beat the Swiss here two years ago, though she lost their only subsequent meeting, in Memphis earlier this year. The winner will meet either the Czech Republic’s Klara Zakopalova or Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi.
Voegele was beaten in the first round in Brussels this week by Elena Baltacha, who is the third and final member of the British singles contingent at Roland Garros. The former national No 1, who was out for eight months following ankle surgery, returned to the court last month. She has dropped to No 234 in the world.
After losing first time out in her first two comeback tournaments, Baltacha then won three matches at a clay-court event in France.
She has a chance of making progress here, having been drawn against New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic, the world No 91, who lost their only previous meeting in Copenhagen three years ago. The winner is likely to face Dominika Cibulkova, the No 16 seed.
Serena Williams is the clear favourite to win the women’s title, having lost just three of the 70 matches she has played since her stunning defeat by Virginie Razzano, the world No 111, in the first round here last year.
Williams, who meets Georgia’s Anna Tatishvili in the first round, has won her last 24 matches in a row and is unbeaten on clay this year, having won titles in Charleston, Madrid and Rome.
French Open 2013: Best of the draw
N Djokovic (seed 1) v D Goffin
Qualifier v R Federer (2)
R Nadal (3) v D Brands
M Matosevic v D Ferrer (4)
T Berdych (5) v G Monfils
J-W Tsonga (6) v A Bedene
S Stakhovsky v R Gasquet (7)
N Mahut v J Tipsarevic (8)
S Williams (1) v A Tatishvili
S-W Hsieh v M Sharapova (2)
E Vesnina v V Azarenka (3)
A Radwanska (4) v S Peer
A Rus v S Errani (5)
L Na (6) v A Medina-Garrigues
P Kvitova (7) v A Rezai
S Voegele v H Watson
M Erakovic v E Baltacha
C Wozniacki (10) v L Robson