The tennis tour's European clay swing will crescendo with two weeks of enthralling action at the French Open, the red dirt Major that kicks off its 127th edition on May 28.
World No. 1 Iga Swiatek will be defending champion and favorite to lift her third French Open trophy. She will, however, be expecting cut-throat competition from the likes of Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina.
Aside from the fast-emerging Big-3 of women's tennis, there are plenty of other names who will be fancying their chances at reigning supreme on clay. Here, we look at three probable dark horses for the 2023 French Open.
#1 French Open 2021 winner Barbora Krejcikova
After a poor 12 months that saw her results fluctuate, former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova is back to looking dangerous.
A return to her beloved Paris should bring back all the good memories from two years ago when she lifted the trophy in the most improbable of fashions.
The Czech has wins over both Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, the two biggest title concerts, to show for this year. That's a stat that should give her a lot of confidence and make the rest of the players wary of her.
#2 Jelena Ostapenko
A former champion, Jelena Ostapenko is one name that all top players will be looking to avoid in the draw. The big-hitting Latvian possesses the weapons needed to outhit just about anyone on her given day.
And while she hasn’t always been the best at stringing together results with consistency, Ostapenko has shown signs of improvement in recent months. Her form hasn’t been as up-and-down this season and she seems to be enjoying her time on court.
Ostapenko also had a great outing in Rome, the last stop before the clay court Major, reaching the semifinals. She came up short against an in-from Elena Rybakina to stop that run and, safe to say, it will take another special performance to stop the Latvian’s charge.
#3 Zheng Qinwen
Zheng Qinwen was the only player who managed to take a set off Iga Swiatek during the Pole's title-winning run at the 2022 French Open. Not to forget, the 20-year-old Chinese showed another Roland Garros champ the door in 2022 in the form of Simona Halep in an earlier round.
Her results on clay aren't particularly impressive for the season, but she possesses the game needed to turn things around. If she can use the early rounds to fine-tune her game, there's no reason why Zheng shouldn't be seen as a contender for the title.