Will the women’s champion be a first-time Slam winner?

 - Nick McCarvel

The "Live at Roland-Garros" panel debate whether we'll be witnessing the rise of a new women's champion here in Paris.

Marketa Vondrousova Roland Garros 2019Marketa Vondrousova. ©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Nick McCarvel, a presenter on our Live at Roland-Garros web show, writes daily about a hot topic discussed on the programme the night prior. You can join the discussion on our Twitter, and tune in nightly from 7pm Paris time on our Facebook, YouTube channels, here on the website and the official app to see how 'The Daily Question' shakes out.

Remember back in 2017, when it felt like it was clay destiny for Simona Halep to emerge as Roland-Garros champion, the Romanian set to face unseeded Jelena Ostapenko in the final having come back from the brink against Elina Svitolina two rounds prior?

It turned out, of course – as we all know now – that Halep wouldn’t hoist the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen that year, and instead had to wait another 12 months to finally be crowned queen of Paris and the terre battue, a title she’s so valiantly trying to defend in 2019. 

But with world No. 1 Naomi Osaka out, as well as No.2 Karolina Pliskova gone and the likes of Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova, Kiki Bertens, Caroline Wozniacki and Svitolina all having exited already, it suddenly feels like destiny again for Halep on Court Philippe-Chatrier. 

And it led us to our “Question of the Day” last night on Live at Roland-Garros: Will the women’s champion this year in Paris be a first-time major champion? 

Because aside from Simona, the only other player remaining in the draw that has won a major trophy is 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens, who late Sunday evening beat 2016 Roland-Garros winner Garbiñe Muguruza, 6-4, 6-4. 

So, in a sense, to word the question differently: Will Halep or Stephens win Roland-Garros? … or will someone else? 

That “someone else” list is long: Johanna Konta, Petra Martic and Marketa Vondrousova won through to the quarter-finals on Sunday, while Ashleigh Barty, Madison Keys, Amanda Anisimova, Iga Swiatek and Aliona Bolsova are all still alive in the draw.  

Former world No.5 Daniela Hantuchova, our guest expert on the show, made a case for Muguruza to be champion here in less than a week’s time, but her answer didn’t age well whatsoever. Within an hour after the show Muguruza was out to Stephens. Now I’ll have to follow-up with Daniela on what her thoughts might be…  

You could really make a case for anyone remaining in the draw to emerge the victor next Saturday, though from the start, Halep has been my pick. 

Danger looms in the likes of Keys, a semi-finalist here last year and always an if-she’s-on-watch-out! candidate.

Much the same could be said for Barty, the No.8 seed, who hasn’t had great success on clay in the past but has been one of the form players in 2019, following her Australian Open quarter-final and title in Miami. 

Konta is resurgent, following her breakout run in 2016-7, having made the final in Rome a couple of weeks ago. She had never won a match at Roland-Garros before this fortnight. 

But something in the air says the likes of Vondrousova, 19, Swiatek, 18, or Anisimova, 17, could be the “Ostapenko” of this year. Young, fearless, nothing to lose. Scarily, Vondrousova is just three wins away, while the other two are set to play their fourth-round matches on Monday. 

On social media, the fans are siding with the great unknown: Out of nearly 10,000 votes on our Twitter and Instagram accounts, some 65% of voters said this year’s winner will be a first-time champion. 

It leaves us with this: Expect the unexpected in week two of Roland-Garros.  

And, if you’re a Stephens or Halep fan cheering your hope on for a second major, hold on to your hat.

Join us from 7pm tonight on Facebook, YouTube, and the official app for tonight’s question: Can Stan Wawrinka beat Roger Federer in the Roland-Garros quarter-finals? You can vote by early afternoon Paris time on our Twitter and Instagram accounts. Au revoir!