Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the worst-prepared top seeds at Roland Garros

Serena Williams and Roger Federer, two of the most successful tennis players of all time but also two veterans of the sport, are on the brink of starting a new Grand Slam campaign as the 2021 edition of Roland Garros is already unfolding. Yet, one shouldn’t have high expectations from them because the statistics show they are the worst-prepared players among the top seeds in the WTA and ATP draws, according to the number of official matches they’ve been involved in prior to the French Open.

However, this fact isn’t too much of a surprise if we consider that both Serena and Roger are 39 years old.

Serena Williams, another missed Grand Slam?

Serena Williams is ranked as the 7th seed at Roland Garros and her top opponents include:

World number one Ashleigh Barty;
4-times Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka;
Madrid champion Aryna Sabalenka;
Top-ranked American Sofia Kenin;
2018 WTA Finals winner Elina Svitolina;
2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu;
En-titre French Open champion Iga Swiatek.

Unfortunately for Serena, she played the fewest official matches this year (13), among which only 3 were on clay. If we compare this stat to the 33 matches under Barty’s belt (16 on clay), we can see the drawback in the American player’s corner. Yet, there are other top seeds that haven’t managed to play a lot of matches, like Kenin and Andreescu.

Is Roger Federer ready for his 1st Grand Slam of the year?

In the ATP draw, Roger Federer is only the 8th seed at the French Open, the first 7 being:

World number one Novak Djokovic;
Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev;
13-times French Open winner Rafael Nadal;
2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem;
Lyon Open winner Stefanos Tsitsipas;
Madrid champion Alexander Zverev;
Monte-Carlo runner-up Andrej Rublev.

Although Roger Federer’s tactic of playing only important tournaments during the year is well-known, we can see in the graph below that the iconic Swiss player had undergone by far the worst preparation for Roland Garros. He played only 3 official matches and didn’t participate in any clay-court tournaments while his main rivals, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, have played 22, respectively 21 matches prior to the Roland Garros. On the other side, the players who have played the most matches ahead of Paris are certainly Tsitsipas and Rublev, with 42, respectively 39 encounters.

In the end, even if Serena Williams and Roger Federer are still part of the elite, the stats show they are out of shape for winning this year’s Roland Garros, especially in comparison with the strong competition they have to face.

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