Down the line: WTA draw wide open at Roland Garros

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Williams is struggling with an elbow injury.

The last couple of weeks in Madrid and Rome have made things particularly interesting with regards to the upcoming women’s action at Roland Garros, which starts in six days.

– #360view: Djokovic has best shot at French Open crown
– Rome: Maria Sharapova clinches third Italian Open title
– GALLERY: WTA top-ten world rankings

Suddenly Petra Kvitova has emerged as a real threat on clay with her strong week in Madrid where she won the title, beating Serena Williams en route.

Elsewhere, Maria Sharapova showed us all once again why she is a true champion by miraculously coming up with victories while playing some very questionable tennis.

Here are a few burning questions heading into Paris…

Will Serena Williams be fit enough to inch closer to completing a Serena Slam?
The world No1 was forced to pull out of her third-round match in Rome with Christina McHale, citing an elbow injury which she said bothered her while serving.

Considering how the serve is Serena’s biggest weapon, an elbow problem a week ahead of the French Open is less than ideal. However, she may have pulled out as a precaution, especially considering Williams wasn’t 100 per cent set on playing Rome in the first place.

The American is halfway towards a Serena Slam (holding all four majors simultaneously but split over two calendar years – a feat she achieved in 2002-2003), having won the last two grand slams.

Can she win the next two?

What is happening with Halep?
Is this the sophomore slump everyone keeps talking about? It sounds harsh considering Simona Halep has won three titles this season, including a Premier 5 in Dubai and a Premier Mandatory in Indian Wells.

Still, her lows in 2015 have been bizarre ones.

Getting bagelled by Ekaterina Makarova to lose in straights in the Australian Open quarters, losing to Alize Cornet in her opener in Madrid and committing 60 unforced errors against Carla Suarez Navarro in Rome all make for unsightly reading. 

Halep has visited opposite ends of the tennis spectrum in the past five months and heads to Paris, where she is defending runner-up, with far from stellar preparation.

The next fortnight will be a real test of the Romanian’s character and mental strength.

Is Suarez Navarro capable of delivering a Schiavone-like surprise win?
Carla Suarez Navarro has arguably been the revelation of 2015 so far. Final appearances in Rome, Miami and Antwerp, and nine top-10 wins in the past five months have helped her clinch a career-high top-eight seeding at Roland Garros.

If the draw plays in her favour and Serena somehow gets out of the way, the Spaniard could end up pulling off a shock victory a la Francesca Schiavone in 2010.

The real concern would be fatigue. She’s labored through so many three-setters this season and, having also played doubles regularly with Garbine Muguruza, might not have the legs to take her across the finish line.

Is Daria Gavrilova the real deal?
We’ve seen the young Russian beat Sharapova in Miami and once again provide her compatriot with a stern test in Rome last week.

There’s lots to like when it comes to Gavrilova. She’s feisty, has lots of self belief, can read the game really well and knows how to mix up her shots.

Now is her chance to prove herself on a bigger stage in Paris.

Is Genie out of her bottle? 
Eugenie Bouchard finally ended her six-match losing streak with a win over Zarina Diyas in Rome, before losing in three close sets to Suarez Navarro.

Was that enough to give the Canadian some of her mojo back, or will the slump resume in Paris?

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