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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Garbine Muguruza looks ready to reign again for Spain in French Open

Svitolina could prove chief danger to Iberian queen

Garbine Muguruza is a dual Grand Slam champion and still only 24 years old
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Starts 10am Sunday, ITV4 & Eurosport 1 & 2

Adrian Humphries's top tip
Garbine Muguruza 14-1
Garbine Muguruza can make it two French Open singles triumphs in three years by regaining the Suzanne Lenglen Cup that she relinquished to Jelena Ostapenko last season.

Muguruza didn't exactly blow 2017, though, because not long after leaving Paris empty-handed she claimed her second Grand Slam singles crown at Wimbledon.

The Spaniard, who is still only 24, knows how to win big tournaments and coming from a country used to sunbaked clay courts, it's no surprise to see bookmakers respect her in a competition which is being hailed as wide-open.

That statement has a degree of truth because there are a host of women capable of lifting the trophy. And if Ostapenko, a Latvian who was 150-1 before last year's tournament, can go all the way then there are plenty this year who could follow suit.

Serena Williams, who is competing in Paris, is respected but probably still a little short of match fitness, Simona Halep is struggling to triumph at Slam level and clay is not Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki's preferred surface.

Ostapenko could possibly find it a tougher test as defending champion, while Caroline Garcia still needs to do more to win in her homeland and Angelique Kerber is playing okay but clay courts are not her forte.

Muguruza has no such concerns and it has taken some exceptional performances to stop her in Paris in recent years. Last season the Venezuela-born ace could not live with Kristina Mladenovic, who played a blinder in round four, while in 2015 it was a similar story against Lucie Safarova in the last eight.

Muguruza has seldom been the most trustworthy of performers when it comes to tournament bets, but that is principally because she often saves her best for the events that matter.

After Sam Sumyk returned as her chief coach in March, replacing Conchita Martinez, Muguruza duly made a statement by winning in Monterrey a month later.

She may well have been biding her time in this clay campaign and as is now almost always the case, it will take a huge performance to stop her.

Next best
Elina Svitolina 6-1
If Muguruza doesn't win it, the oddsmakers are probably right to think that Halep or Elina Svitolina could crack it for the first time at Grand Slam level.

Halep is good enough to win one at some point and she's pretty much at her strongest on clay, so merits plenty of respect, but she also struggles to get over the line and is probably better backed to reach the final.

Svitolina, on the other hand, continues to make progress each season.

She's nowhere near the value that Muguruza represents, but judging by the way Svitolina hammered her opponents in Rome in the latest meaningful event the Ukrainian could be in a good place. However, she does face a difficult-looking opener against Ajla Tomljanovic, who is finally starting to look an opponent to be feared.

Others to note
Petra Kvitova Still difficult to trust on the red courts, even though she recently won her third Madrid crown.
Naomi Osaka The Indian Wells champion has already shown she can beat anyone on her day but she looks slightly weaker on clay than on hard courts.
Daria Kasatkina If Ostapenko can win at Roland Garros then so can Dasha, but the Russian looks short enough considering she’s still a Slam maiden.
Victoria Azarenka Hugely polished performer on any terrain. Could trouble Ostapenko in round two.

G Muguruza
2pts each-way 14-1 general
E Svitolina
1pt 6-1 general

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It took exceptional performances from Kristina Mladenovic and Lucie Safarova to stop Muguruza in Paris in 2017 and 2015
E.W. Terms
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