Women’s draw: Muguruza v Kuznetsova in first round

Serena Williams avoids a first-round clash with the seeds while Ostapenko could face Azarenka in round two.

 Garbiñe Muguruza Roland-Garros 2017.©Nicolas Gouhier/FFT.
 - Michael Beattie

Former Roland-Garros champions Garbine Muguruza and Svetlana Kuznetsova will face off in the first round at Roland-Garros 2018 as the seeds avoided an early clash with unseeded heavyweights Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.

Muguruza beat Kuznetsova en route to her maiden Grand Slam triumph in Paris in 2016, and heads into the first-round showdown with a 5-1 record against the Russian, who lifted the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen in 2009.

All eyes were fixed on the fate of 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, unseeded on her return to Grand Slam action for the first time since the birth of her daughter last year. The three-time Roland-Garros champion will open against Czech Kristyna Pliskova, twin sister of No.6 seed Karolina Pliskova – a potential fourth-round opponent for the American.

Top seed and two-time finalist Simona Halep will take on American Alison Riske in her opening match. The world No.1 shares her quarter of the draw with leading French hopes Caroline Garcia and Kristina Maldenovic; No.7 seed Garcia will face China’s Yingying Duan, while No.29 seed Mladenovic is up against Andrea Petkovic, with a potential third-round showdown with Halep a possibility.

World No.1 Angelique Kerber, also in the top quarter, opens against fellow German Mona Barthel.

Jelena Ostapenko’s title defence will begin against Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova after being drawn in the bottom half of the draw. The Latvian No.5 seed is projected to meet Venus Williams in the fourth round – the seven-time Grand Slam champion opens against Qiang Wang of China – but could face Victoria Azarenka in the second round, should the returning former world No.1 beat Katerina Siniakova in her opener.

“It’s great to come back here,” said Ostapenko, who also shares the third quarter with No.4 seed Elina Svitolina, Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka. “When I came to the practice, because I arrived yesterday, today was the first day I felt really, really good here. It’s great to be back.”

Two-time former champion Maria Sharapova, returning to Roland-Garros for the first time since 2015, will take on a qualifier in her opening match. Joining Muguruza, Kuznetsova and former finalist Samantha Stosur in the second quarter of the draw, the No.28 seed could face Karolina Pliskova in the third round, with a potential fourth-round showdown with Serena Williams awaiting the winner.

Ten of the 13 qualifiers – including a lucky loser – have landed in the bottom half of the draw, including six in the bottom quarter occupied by No.2 seed and reigning Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, who will face American Danielle Collins in the first round.

Sharing the Dane’s section are Sloane Stephens, the reigning US Open champion who will take on a qualifier, and Petra Kvitova, drawn against Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg.

The women's draw will be available to view in full shortly.