Commentary

No early signs of trouble for top seeds

Updated: May 20, 2011, 11:19 AM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

No one can accuse Caroline Wozniacki of not getting enough time on clay ahead of the French Open. The world No. 1 had a packed dirt schedule, and unlike most of the contenders, she decided to play in the week leading up to the season's second major.

So a few hours after Friday's draw was made, Wozniacki was scheduled to meet the reigning queen at Roland Garros, Francesca Schiavone, in Brussels.

Kim Clijsters must have wished she'd had Wozniacki's younger and less-injury-prone body. The Belgian didn't play any warm-ups, hindered by wrist, shoulder and mainly ankle problems.

But given that Clijsters has won the past two majors, rival Serena Williams is still out and some of the tour's form players might turn out to be pretenders instead of contenders, she'll go in as one of the favorites.

Here are five takeaways from the draw.

Good news, mostly, for Woz

Wozniacki has an interesting first-round encounter, meeting former French Open semifinalist Kimiko Date Krumm. Actually, "former," is an understatement: Date Krumm landed in the final four in 1995 -- before Wozniacki started playing tennis.

Date Krumm is having a wretched season, 2-12 and winless on clay. But the 40-year-old won't be overawed playing on a grand court. She took a set off Wozniacki in the same round at Wimbledon two years ago and upset a former No. 1, Dinara Safina, in the first round last year.

Wozniacki's half doesn't feature three of the surging and huge-hitting baseliners who can give her problems: Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova. Further, Clijsters is on the other side, too.

What she'll possibly have to deal with are the unpredictable sorts who could trouble her -- most notably Daniela Hantuchova and 2009 French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

If she advances to the quarters, either Julia Goerges (again) or 2010 French Open finalist Samantha Stosur are probably waiting.

Not many complications for Kimmy

The top players like to ease their way into Grand Slams, avoiding any danger in the opening two rounds before meeting other seeds in the third. That's especially important to Clijsters due to her recent inactivity.

And Clijsters, who is halfway to the "Kimmy Slam," won't be disappointed with an opening match against world No. 100 Anastasiya Yakimova. Looming in the second round is a qualifier or No. 114 Arantxa Rus, a player of potential, although lacking experience.

If the seeds stick, we'll get a gauge of where Clijsters is at in the third round against battler Maria Kirilenko.

Not much early danger for Maria

Sharapova was pumped after winning in Rome last week, soundly beating Wozniacki along the way.

"This is just the beginning of many things to come," she said.

The problem for Sharapova is that since her serious shoulder injury, when she'd regain form, raising expectations, she'd subsequently fail to produce. Overall, only once in her past 10 Slams has the 24-year-old reached a quarterfinal.

However, Sharapova has an even nicer early-round draw, likely not facing any danger until the fourth round and Agnieszka Radwanska, who's now slumping a little.

A Sharapova-Clijsters encounter would be the pick of the women's quarterfinals.

Three's a charm

The third quarter is all power, featuring Azarenka, Kvitova, a suddenly rejuvenated Li Na (who shouldn't be discounted), 2008 champ Ana Ivanovic (nursing a wrist injury), 2009 semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova and 2008 quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi.

Azarenka, who has flattered to deceive in the past and is coming off an injury retirement (elbow) in Rome, shouldn't encounter difficulties in her first three rounds.

Ivanovic and Russian Ekaterina Makarova could tangle in the second round. The duo played an instant classic earlier this season in Australia.

Kvitova and Cibulkova are expected to meet in the third. That'll be interesting. Kvitova scraped by 7-5 in the third set in Madrid and went on to win the tourney.

Bethanie leads the U.S.

Who's the highest-ranked American woman in the draw? In the absence of the Williams sisters, it's Bethanie Mattek-Sands at No. 36.

Mattek-Sands enjoyed the clay-court season, her go-for-broke style upending Schiavone in Madrid as she reached the quarterfinals. Of the eight U.S. women automatically entered in the draw (excluding qualifiers), Mattek-Sands and veteran Jill Craybas have the best shot of winning a round. The former plays Arantxa Parra Santonja, and Craybas nets a qualifier.

The other six have to contend with Schiavone, Cibulkova, Kirilenko, Sara Errani, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, all good clay-court players. That's tough.

Mattek-Sands could play Pennetta in the second round. The American already beat her in Rome earlier this year.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.