Six protected in French Open entry list

The deadline to enter the French Open was Monday.

And with everyone in the top 100 officially signed on, the question was where the first, initial ranking cutoff would hit on the women’s side.

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There are 108 players directly admitted into the French Open draw on the basis of their rankings, or protected rankings.

And in the initial list, there are five players who entered with that protected ranking:

Serena Williams (No. 1)
Victoria Azarenka (No. 6)
Saisai Zheng (No. 88)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (No. 90)
Kristina Kucova (No. 95)
Vania King (No. 103)

And so, the the last player straight in is King, at No. 103.

But … Azarenka also would get in on the basis of her current WTA Tour ranking, which stands at No. 95.

So there is no need for her to use the protected ranking. It cannot be used for seeding purposes, so there is no benefit.

That would mean the next player in is China’s Ying-Ying Duan.

Playing the waiting game

Everyone ranked No. 104 and lower must now sit and wait, to see who withdraws from the original list before the start of qualifying May 21.

There always are injuries that pop up in the interim. And, with protected rankings, there are some players who end up not making the date simply because they aren’t yet ready to play as they return from injury.

With the increases in prize money for first-round losers, most players try even with the increased vigilance on unfit players who show up just to take the prize money and run.

Zheng, who had been out since the US Open, returned to play a few weeks ago in ITF tournaments in Asia. 

King returned to play singles in February, after nearly a year away. Her real ranking currently stands at No. 1271.

Will Azarenka get to Paris?

As for Azarenka, there is still no indication she will even be able to play the French Open – or Rome and Madrid, which she has also entered.

The judge in her California custody case gave her permission to bring her son to Indian Wells, given it was in-state. And her son’s father went along to Miami, with his family having a condo in the area.

But Europe is a different story. No doubt Azarenka would have loved to have donned the Belarus colours in Minsk this weekend, for a Group I Fed Cup playoff tie against Slovakia. But she’s not on the team.

Azarenka last played the French Open in 2016, when she retired down 0-4 in the third set to Italy’s Karen Knapp. She would have been about two months’ pregnant at the time, as son Leo was born Dec. 20, 2016.

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