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French Open: Iga, Ash, Naomi strong title contenders (Women's Preview)

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Paris, May 29 (IANS) Defending champion Iga Swiatek of Poland will look to follow the footsteps of Justine Henin and be the first since the Belgian to win two French Open titles in a row when the clay court Grand Slam commences on Sunday.

Having never progressed beyond the fourth round of a women’s major, 19-year-old Iga broke through for her maiden Grand Slam title last year, upstaging American Sofia Kenin at the French Open in Paris.

Only three players have won multiple titles in the women’s tournament at the French Open in this century — Justine (4), American Serena Williams (3) and Russia’s Maria Sharapova (2).

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Iga celebrated French Open glory last year in the absence of world No.1 and defending champion Australia’s Ash Barty.

No player has won more games on clay this season than Ash and Russia’s world No. 30 Veronika Kudermetova (both 13) and the two would be fancying their chances here.

The field also includes world No. 2 Naomi Osaka, four-time Grand Slam title winner and reigning Australian Open champion, and world No. 4 Belarusian Ayna Sabalenka. Ayna could become only the third woman to win the Madrid Open and French Open in the same season after American Serena Williams (2013) and Maria Sharapova (2014).

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While her last year’s title run will go down as one of the most dominant displays at a Slam, Iga is under no delusion that her path to a repeat will be easy.

–IANS

akm/qma

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