- The bottom half of the French Open women’s singles draw, beyond No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, is wide open
- With two protected rankings, a lucky loser and two unseeded, Sabalenka remains the favorite to get through
- Read on as we break down the round of 16 matchups, and make predictions on who goes to the quarterfinals
Only three players had odds below +800 heading into this year’s French Open. But Elena Rybakina’s withdrawal because of illness before her third-round match leaves two, and from this bottom half, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka is a heavy favorite to get to the final.
French Open Round of 16 Odds
|[PR] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs.  Elise Mertens (BEL)||-110 / -110|
|Karolina Muchova (CZE) vs. [LL] Elina Avanesyan (RUS)||-430 / +330|
|[PR] Elina Svitolina (UKR) vs.  Daria Kasatkina (RUS)||+152 / -192|
|Sloane Stephens (USA) vs.  Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)||+ 340 / -450|
Elina Svitolina vs Daria Kasatkina Prediction
The head-to-head between Svitolina and Kasatkina is one-sided; the Ukrainian player leads 6-0. And in those six meetings, Kasatkina has only taken two sets.
But it’s been nearly two years since they met, and the dynamics at this French Open have jumbled that mix considerably. For one thing, Svitolina is only a few tournaments into a comeback from maternity leave.
But she also is inspired as she plays for her homeland. She’s also dealing with both a slight leg issue that she’s getting treatment on, and an uncomfortable stye in her eye.
A month or two ago, we’d still have said Kasatkina has no shot, given their history, and that Kasatkina hadn’t won back-to-back matches since before the Australian Open. But she has been rejuvenated on the clay, which shows off her game in its best light. She’s gone 10-4 and hasn’t lost a set in her first three matches in Paris.
Svitolina is dealing with a lot – notably the complicated Ukrainian-Russian drama around the tournament – even though Kasatkina is rare amongst her countrywomen to have been outspoken against the war in Ukraine.
We’d call for Svitolina to get through, but it feels like the timing is right for her to hit the wall both physically and mentally, and an in-form Kasatkina looks poised to take advantage.
French Open Picks: Kasatkina Loses First Set, Wins the Match (+540)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Elise Mertens Prediction
Neither player has had much of a 2023, as Pavlyuchenkova returned from a long injury layoff struggling to win matches and Mertens has been very up and down, other than a successful run through Doha and Dubai on hard courts in February.
But both are rounding into form at the right time. Pavlyuchenkova has posted comeback wins over seeded countrywomen Liudmila Samsonova and Anastasia Potapova.
Mertens had a great draw with lucky losers in the first two rounds. But then she ceded just four games to No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula in the third round.
The rebirth of Pavlyuchenkova!
Away from courts in 2022 on injury the 2021 finalist, who has fallen to 333rd place, dismisses Anastasia Potapova 4-6 6-3 6-0 to continue into the 4th round pic.twitter.com/zmbFkIOtcu
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) June 2, 2023
They’ve played twice, with each winning a three-setter. But both came nearly six years ago, and neither was on clay. So you can throw that out.
The odds are dead even, which makes sense.
Pavlyuchenkova last played four matches in a row at the 2021 US Open. And her wins in Paris, especially the last two, have been tough ones.
If Mertens is back to form, as she seems to be, she brings more freshness to the table.
French Open Picks: Over 23.5 Games (+112)
Sloane Stephens vs Aryna Sabalenka Prediction
At +450, Sabalenka isn’t as strong a favorite as she would be against a “typical” unseeded player in the round of 16. But Sloane Stephens isn’t typical; she’s a former US Open champion and world No. 3, and was a French Open finalist in 2018 and has made the second week in Paris 10 times in 12 trips.
She can be as great as she can be terrible on the day. Stephens had one hiccup in a set – against the always distracting Yulia Putintseva. But other than that, flawless.
Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka, who has publicly backed Belarusian dictator and top Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko, is now refusing to attend press conferences after being questioned over her position on the invasion of Ukraine https://t.co/nnQORW4zXv
— Business Ukraine mag (@Biz_Ukraine_Mag) June 3, 2023
Sabalenka declined to attend her last press conference because she had “felt unsafe” in a prior one; a persistent Ukrainian reporter tried to bait her, and it was a microcosm of the tension at this tournament.
If the head is right, Sabalenka should prevail. Stephens might well help her out. The Belarussian still has yet to lose a match at a Grand Slam tournament this season.
French Open Picks: Sabalenka in Two Sets (-210)
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