This is in no real order/ranking at all, but i'd call these the top 8/9 contenders:
- Arguably has the most suitable game specifically for outdoor red clay, and her serve is becoming more dangerous. The issues for her are slow starts and difficulty closing out matches, but the game to win it is there. At RG she would have to win 7 matches in two weeks. In Madrid she won 6 in one week, including beating many of the other favourites here (Halep, Kvitova, Stephens) and former champion Ostapenko. I am aware the surfaces are very different, but after a week like that you have to put her here.
- Actually playing pretty well this year despite no title, just needs to make sure she doesn't run her body into the ground before the finals since her style of play is so dependant on doing that. Even after last year’s slam win, her recent finals record still gives me pause as well to call her an OUTRIGHT favourite (has lost 9 of her last 12).
- The most in-form player of the year, actually very good on clay, fitter than ever before, and seems to have finally overcome her slam demons in Melbourne. Has improved when it goes to 3 sets, already has a clay title this year.
- I mean out of the last 3 slams she's gone Final, Final, Quarter-Final (with match points for a Semi). I know she never plays these days but I think on clay she can reach more balls than her movement has allowed her on hard courts, and she's still the best 'slam player' in the draw. She was playing well here last year.
- I've mostly included her here because she has won the last two slams, and i'm sure would love to go 3 in a row. And her attempts at sliding in Stuttgart and Madrid weren't too bad (that's a slipperier surface than RG too). Serve is still proving hard to break for the other girls. I can see her making a deep run.
- You can tell she wants to complete the set, and she's not as tragic on clay as we sometimes think. With her movement it'll take some beating her. Knows how to get through two weeks at a slam, and I actually think the time off at tournaments she doesn't care about will do her good.
- She's played only maybe 2 or 3 good matches in the past... 6 months
but always seems to show up for RG. She has made the 2nd week five years in a row. And like Angie has proven she can mentally tough out 7 matches over two weeks. Had to include her.
- Seems distracted and has frankly been... well, bad, since the YEC, but she seems to like clay a lot and is due a deep run at a big tournament. Or Madison
- Always plays better at the slams, and is one of the few players who can hit through the surface. Of course she can lose to anyone when leaking errors, but as long as her shots are going in the court, she's going to be tough to beat.
Dangerous floaters (maybe not to win the whole thing but to snatch a few seeded wigs):
Sakkari - Something like 13-3 on clay this year and growing in confidence each day, fitness and determination is no question.
Vondrousova - Doesn't really have any bad losses or tournaments this year, and a GREAT game for clay.
Andreescu - Who plays with no fear against any top names and will finally be rested. Might be rusty though.
Martic - Can play well in slams and also has a lot of form on the dirt.
Didn't include Svitolina because of her slam history and injury (although many thought she was over before she went 5-0 at the YEC), or Pliskova because of her recent illness and matchup issues with some of these players. Bencic still relies on calling dad to the court every 3 games so I can't see her going super deep although she lives to upset a top name. I also have a weird feeling either Mladenovic or Garcia will have a second week run, as they've both done before.