Top seed Serena, Sharapova could meet in French final

9:34 AM, May 24, 2013   |    comments
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Paris, France (Sports Network) - Former champion Serena Williams has been installed as the top seed at the French Open and appears to have a friendly path to a deep run at the world's lone clay-court Grand Slam, where she could face reigning titlist Maria Sharapova in the final.

The world No. 1 star will open her latest stay in Paris against Georgian Anna Tatishvili and wouldn't appear to meet any resistance until the quarterfinals, where the American great could face eighth-seeded German left-hander Angelique Kerber or 10th-seeded former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Potential semifinal opponents for the reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Williams could be fourth-seeded 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska or fifth-seeded Sara Errani, who was last year's surprising French Open runner-up to Sharapova, this year's second seed.

The 31-year-old Williams could battle the reigning titlist and fellow career Grand Slam holder Sharapova in a marquee finale in Paris.

The powerful Williams suffered her first-ever opening-round Grand Slam loss (50-1) a year ago when France's own Virginie Razzano shocked the 15-time major singles champion in the French capital.

Since that stunning loss, however, Williams has gone 67-3 and is currently riding a career-best 24-match winning streak, which includes clay titles in Madrid and Rome.

Radwanska will open against Israeli veteran Shahar Peer and could face Williams' 30th-seeded older sister Venus in the third round, 14th-seeded former No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion and 2007 runner-up Ana Ivanovic in the fourth or Errani in the quarterfinals.

Errani's opening opponent will be Dutch lefty Arantxa Rus, while the 2002 Roland Garros runner-up to Serena, the seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus, will take on Radwanska's younger sister Urszula in her first-rounder.

The bottom half of the draw is spearheaded by the former No. 1 Sharapova, who will open her 2013 French Open stay against Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh and could face 17th-seeded American Sloane Stephens in the fourth round. Stephens will play Italian Karin Knapp in the round of 128.

Potential quarterfinal opponents for Sharapova could be seventh-seeded former Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova or ninth-seeded former U.S. Open titlist Samantha Stosur. The southpaw Kvitova and Stosur could square off in the fourth round in two weeks.

Kvitova will open against France's Aravane Rezai, while the 2010 French Open runner-up Stosur will tangle with 42-year-old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm in round one and could meet 18th-seeded former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the third round.

The top section in the bottom half of the women's draw features third-seeded former No. 1 and two-time reigning Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and sixth-seeded 2013 Aussie Open runner-up and 2011 French Open titlist Li Na.

Azarenka will open against Russian Elena Vesnina, while Li's first-round opponent will be Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues. The U.S. Open runner-up Azarenka and Li could clash in the quarters with the winner potentially taking on Sharapova in the semis.

There are six former champions in this year's French draw, as Sharapova, Li, Ivanovic and Serena are joined by 2010 winner and 2011 runner-up Francesca Schiavone and 2009 titlist and 2006 runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The French Open starts on Sunday and will run through June 9.

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