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Six dark horses for ladies’ singles glory at French Open

PARIS - JUNE 07:  Ana Ivanovic of Serbia celebrates with the trophy following her victory during the Women's Singles Final match against Dinara Safina of Russia on day fourteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 7, 2008 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) looks at six superb women we think can make the step up and challenge Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova's dominance of the French Open.

Grand Slam great Serena Williams and Russian racket star Maria Sharapova are the established stars of ladies’ tennis, but is their time at the top coming to an end?

They are set to face some serious challengers on the clay courts of Roland Garros, if the early rounds of this year’s French Open are any indicator, and to that end look at five dark horses who could break out and become champion.

Victoria Azarenka, at a best-priced 11/1 with BetVictor to be ladies’ singles champion at this Grand Slam, is looking to add to previous glory at the Australian Open in back-to-back years (2012 and 2013).

Facing Serena next in round three of this year’s French Open, Belarus’ best sporting export Azarenka, 25, has inflicted three previous career defeats on the American. She has also dropped just eight games during his first two matches in Paris.

The leading Spanish contender is Carla Suarez Navarro, 26, but she has never been past the last eight of a Grand Slam, although looks well-placed on her favoured surface to go further this year.

Rated a top-price 18/1 with Sky Bet to go all the way at the French Open, Suarez Navarro faces a potential mother-watering fourth round fixture with 11th seed Angelique Kerber (25/1 shot with Ladbrokes). The German must first beat another Spanish lady in Garbine Muguruza to set up this tasty encounter.

Cast your minds way back to 2008, and punters may recall Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic winning the French Open. It’s 33/1 with Boylesports that she can fulfil that early career promise and regain Grand Slam glory at 27.

Just like when she won at Roland Garros seven years ago, Ivanovic’s section of the draw looks like plain sailing as only Ekaterina Makarova (100/1 chance with Sporting Bet), Russia’s number two behind Sharapova, looks capable of stopping the Serb from reaching the semis.

And finally, young American talent Sloane Stephens, 23, looks to be bang in-form following straight sets victories over Venus Williams and British hope Heather Watson.

At a superb top-price of 66/1 with William Hill to win the French Open in what would be a maiden Grand Slam triumph, Stephens should await the winner of Serena v Azarenka in round four and has already dumped one Williams sister out of the competition.

Betting tip: Ana Ivanovic wins French Open ladies’ singles @ 33/1 with Boylesports.

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