Paris upstarts can go on to be toppers: Bartoli

Paris in the rain has been particularly memorable for the unheralded tribe of women's tennis who have defied reputation to leave their mark at the French Open.

Half of the quarter-finalists - Kiki Bertens (world No. 58), Yulia Putintseva (No. 60), Tsvetana Pironkova (No. 102) and Shelby Rogers (No. 108) - are ranked outside the top 50 and this was down to a lack of consistency from the top players, noted former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli.

Established stars such as Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep have all suffered early exits at Roland Garros.

It was a different landscape during Bartoli's time with the likes of Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport all winning multiple Grand Slams and performing to a high level on a weekly basis.

Bartoli, who retired weeks after her victory at the All England Club in 2013, said the previous generation were more consistent and that enabled them to reach the later stages of the Grand Slams.

Nevertheless, the 31-year-old Frenchwoman, now a pundit at Fox Sports, has been impressed by the likes of Bertens and Rogers.

The on-court composure of 23-year-old American Rogers was "a surprise in a great way" for Bartoli, who was speaking to Singapore media in a teleconference yesterday.

As for the powerful Dutchwoman Bertens, 24, Bartoli said: "She will be the one to beat if she can keep playing like this."

The challenge, however, is to maintain their level of play throughout the season.

Bartoli said: "For these players, (they have the) potential to establish themselves at the top... and stay there."

One woman for whom consistency has been a byword for much of her career is world No. 1 and defending champion Serena Williams.

The 34-year-old American is Bartoli's tip to win her fourth French Open title and equal German legend Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 Grand Slam titles.

Bartoli said: "The way she was playing against (Elina) Svitolina (winning 6-1, 6-1) was one of the best I've seen Serena play for a long while.

"When she is playing her best, she is the top player in the women's game, no doubt about that."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Paris upstarts can go on to be toppers: Bartoli'. Print Edition | Subscribe