Swiatek's path stacked with champions in Paris

The Polish three-time winner's path to glory includes many a household name

Iga Swiatek, final, Roland-Garros 2024©André Ferreira / FFT
 - Chris Oddo

Defending women’s champion Iga Swiatek stopped by L’Orangerie on the south side of the Roland-Garros grounds to speak at the women’s draw on Thursday in Paris, moments after the world No.1 learned her potential path to what would be a third consecutive women’s singles title. 

Find out more about how the draw gods treated Swiatek, No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka and the rest of the women’s singles field below…


Iga’s thorny path to glory 

Thanks to a spotless body of work on the clay over the last several seasons, three-time Roland-Garros champion Swiatek has installed herself as the perennial favourite in Paris. But the Polish juggernaut will have to brave a gauntlet of former Grand Slam champions and finalists if she is to raise the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen this year in Paris. 

After a first-round tussle with a qualifier, Swiatek could face fellow four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka. The pair have split two previous meetings, and have not met since 2022, when the Pole defeated Osaka in the Miami Open final.

Swiatek's path to the promised land could run through several big names from there.

The 22-year-old, who owns a 28-2 lifetime record in five appearances at Porte d’Auteuil, could face 2021 champion Barbora Krejcikova, the No.24 seed, in the round of 16. 

As a potential quarter-final opponent, clay guru Swiatek could line up against 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, the No.5 seed, or surging Danielle Collins, the No.11 seed. 

Naomi Osaka, first round, Rome Masters 2024©Rob Prange

Who drew the short straw? 

It had to be one of them. Either third-seeded Coco Gauff or fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina was going to get picked to anchor the lower portion of the top half of the draw, and thus be slated to face Swiatek before the final. It ended up being 2022 runner-up Gauff who was drawn into Swiatek’s half of the table. 

Owner of a 1-10 lifetime record against world-beating Swiatek, Gauff could face her longtime nemesis in the semi-finals – if the seeds hold. Swiatek has put an end to Gauff’s last two runs on the Parisian clay, taking her out in the 2022 final and the quarter-finals in 2023, both times in straight sets. 

She also defeated her in the Rome semi-finals last week, 6-4, 6-3.

Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Rybakina pops into the lower half of the draw, and will face Belgium’s Greet Minnen in the opening round. Rybakina, who owns a 9-4 lifetime record at Roland-Garros, pulled out of the draw due to illness after reaching the third round in 2023. 

Dating back to her run to the Rome title last year, Rybakina has won 16 of 17 on the clay. If the seeds hold Rybakina would face No.7-seeded Zheng Qinwen in the quarter-finals.

Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, practice, Roland-Garros 2024©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

Sabalenka’s next breakthrough? 

With each passing year, Aryna Sabalenka seems to get a bit more lethal on the clay. The two-time Australian Open champion is primarily known for her body of work on the faster surfaces, but don’t sleep on the world No.2 on the terre battue. 

Last year Sabalenka was one point from the final before she lost in heartbreaking fashion to Karolina Muchova, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5 in a gripping semi-final. But if there is one thing we know about the 26-year-old it is that she is well-versed at rising from the ashes of her own disappointment. 

After warming up for Paris by reaching back-to-back 1000 finals in Madrid and Rome, Sabalenka will take on 101-ranked teenager Erika Andreeva in her opening match. After that, a potential third-round clash with former runner-up Sloane Stephens looms. 

If the seeds hold, Sabalenka would face Madison Keys in the round of 16 and No.6-seeded Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals. 

Sakkari and Sabalenka share a similar memory in Paris. Both have endured the hardship of squandering a match point in a semi-final. Sakkari fell to Krejcikova in the last four in 2021 after holding a match point, 7-5, 4-6, 9-7.

Coco Gauff, practice, Roland-Garros 2024©André Ferreira / FFT

Collins on the prowl 

In her last season on the tour, Danielle Collins is playing some of the best tennis of her career. After this year’s Australian Open the 30-year-old American announced plans to retire at the end of the season, and since then she has been on a hot streak for the ages. Collins powered to her biggest career title at Miami, then won Charleston a week later. The world No.12 has won 19 of her last 21 matches, dating back to said Miami run. 

The only player to defeat Collins in that period? No.2-seeded Sabalenka, who sits in a different half of the draw.

Collins opens with compatriot Caroline Dolehide in the first round, and could face 2022 Roland-Garros semi-finalist Martina Trevisan in the second round. If the seeds hold, Collins would face fifth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova in the round of 16 and top-seeded Swiatek in the quarters.