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Busted Racquet

2012 French Open women’s preview

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Busted Racquet previews the 2012 women's draw at the French Open.

Can anybody beat Serena? -- It's standard to say that the only person who can beat Serena Williams right now is Serena Williams. But we thought the same thing at the 2011 U.S. Open and Sam Stosur proved that theory wrong. Serena didn't beat Serena that day. Stosur pounded her. That being said, Serena is the prohibitive favorite, even with a tough draw that could include a fourth-round match against Caroline Wozniacki and a quarterfinal matchup with Maria Sharapova. Even though Sharapova is playing well and Wozniacki may have just become the first player to go from a No. 1 seed at one Grand Slam to a No. 9 seed at the next, the fourth rounder may be a tougher test for Serena. For all her faults, Wozniacki plays without fear. Sharapova, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the younger Williams.

And the winner of the "who is the unlucky seed who gets to see Venus Williams in an early-round match" is ... Aga Radwanska -- Rigid seeding systems eliminate controversy and the appearance of favoritism. It also means No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska might have to face Venus Williams in a second round match. Venus is 31 and still rusty from her long layoff. Plus, she's never been great at Roland Garros, having made only one semifinal in her career. But she's also no clay slouch: In her last 13 appearances, she's won at least two matches 12 times.

The senior circuit -- Two-time finalist (and 2010 champion) Francesca Schiavone, 31, faces Kimiko Date-Krumm, 41, in a first round match that proves age ain't nothin' but a number.

Obligatory Victoria Azarenka mention -- For a No. 1 seed and reigning Grand Slam champion, she's not drawing too much attention in the build-up to Roland Garros. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. This is: As Kevin Fischer points out, no woman has won the Australian Open and Roland Garros back-to-back since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.

Best first round match: Ekaterina Makarova vs. Sloane Stephens -- Sure, this is homerism at its finest. But the opening-round slate doesn't have much pop and seeing the young Stephens, playing off her first WTA semifinal, should be enjoyable.

Best possible quarterfinal: Maria Sharapova (2) vs. Serena Williams (5) -- Players always say they don't look ahead at their draw and sometimes they're even telling the truth. In this case, Maria Sharapova probably wishes she didn't know that Serena is on the top side of her quarter.

Predicted semifinal matchups: Victoria Azarenka vs. Angelique Kerber; Mona Barthel vs. Serena Williams

Final: Williams d. Kerber -- Serena hasn't won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2010 and hasn't hoisted a singles trophy at Roland Garros since winning the first leg of the Serena Slam in 2002. Both those streaks come to end in two weeks.

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