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Swiatek, Sabalenka Face Tough Tests in RG Draw

By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, May 25, 2023

Reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek was all smiles joining tournament director Amelie Mauresmo on stage for today's draw ceremony.

The world No. 1 will need her game face to navigate a demanding draw and return to a third French Open final.

More: Muguruza is Engaged!

The 2023 Roland Garros draw was conducted this afternoon at the ​Auteuil Greenhouse, a short lob from the striking garden court that is ​Simonne-Mathieu court.

Stuttgart champion Swiatek must be vigilant from the start to bring June bloom to Paris.

A year ago, a sharp Swiatek outclassed 18-year-old Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3 to lift La Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for the second time in the last three years—and stretch her winning streak to 35 matches.

Returning to Paris, Swiatek opens against Spaniard Cristina Bucsa before things could get quite intriguing.

Swiatek could face the 2021 French Open singles and doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova in the fourth round, followed by a potential rematch with Gauff in the quarterfinals before what could be a blockbuster semifinal showdown vs. Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina in the semifinals.

That's all just to get to Swiatek's Madrid conqueror and world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the final. 

The three reigning Grand Slam champions— Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina—are widely regarded as the three French Open favorites.

Though clay is not Wimbledon winner Rybakina's favorite surface should she get another shot at Swiatek in Paris, the heavy hitter would carry the confidence that comes from beating the three-time Grand Slam champion three times this season.

Swiatek owns a 28-6 record this year. Three of her six losses have come to Rybakina, who swept the Pole on hard courts in the Australian Open fourth round and Indian Wells semifinals then defeated her on Rome's red clay when the top seed retired with a leg issue in the third set.

Applying all-court acumen, Krejcikova beat Swiatek in the Dubai final in February, her second straight win over the world No. 1.

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka is chasing Swiatek for the top spot in the rankings.

Australian Open champion Sabalenka will encounter her own challenging path.

Belarusian Sabalenka starts with bad blood opener vs. Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk.

Should seeds hold true to form, Sabalenka could face former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the fourth round and French fan favorite and familiar nemesis Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals.  Garcia has beaten Sabalenka three times in a row, including a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory in the WTA Finals championship match last fall. 

Four lucky losers will make it into the 128-player Roland Garros women's main draw following the withdrawals of Paula Badosa, Jennifer Brady, Patricia Maria Tig and Ajla Tomljanovic.

Photo credit: Getty