OK, so there's one bonus to losing first round - you don't have any points to defend the next year. Despite losing to Francesca Schiavone in 2002, Anna still managed to hit a career high and advance to places that she'd never been before - imagine if she had advanced at the grand slam of her favorite surface.
Thank god Schiavone is seeded this year - she's on the other half of the draw, nowhere near Anna.
Let's take a look at the draw:
Anna opens up against a lower-ranked French player, who shouldn't post a threat to her. Ironically, my other favorite player opened up against her in Melbourne earlier in the year, and thrashed her completely. I'm hoping for a repeat. Given how Pin plays, Anna shouldn't have much trouble advancing to the next round.
The second round brings an interesting challenge. Maria Sharapova is among the fastest rising players, and Magui Serna is arguably having the best year of her career, defending her title in Estoril and adding a third title at Budapest. They haven't played in 5 years, but Serna won their lone meeting at Montreal 1998 over Smashnova, a lucky loser, in three sets (1-6 7-5 6-2). Sharapova has never played Pistolesi. Given all three players' clay prowess and preference, this will be a long match involving high quality clay play. Who knows where that will end up?
If she comes out of that one, she'll face a giant question mark that will likely be Ashley Harkleroad. Harkleroad, who just turned 18, is having an incredible year on clay, and should prove to be a threat to anyone.
The matches this year are so stacked with clay experts, it's impossible to figure out who will come out where. One thing is for sure, whoever emerges the champion of the section will be a clay lover. And Anna has a real shot at a fourth round rematch with Amelie Mauresmo.
(9)Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) vs. Alina Jidkova (Russia)
Ashley Harkleroad (U.S.) vs. Saori Obata (Japan)
Maria Sharapova vs. Magui Serna (Spain)
Camille Pin (France) vs. (23)Anna Pistolesi (Israel)
(29)Elena Likhovtseva (Russia) vs. Emilie Loit (France)
Tamarine Tanasugarn (Thailand) vs. Fabiola Zuluaga (Colombia)
Lina Krasnoroutskaya (Russia) vs. Jill Craybas (U.S.)
Virginie Razzano (France) vs. (5)Amelie Mauresmo (France)
Jalla Anna! Good luck here in Paris! We're all cheering for you