By Jon Wertheim
May 22, 2009's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's and women's seeds at the French Open. Read on for the top first-round matchups, dark horses to watch and his predicted winners.

1.Dinara Safina: The odds-on favorite. Comes in on a roll, having warmed to the No. 1 ranking. The only question: She's never won a major and when she's in the guts of a match against an experienced champion (see: Williams, Serena), will she be able to fight through?

2.Serena Williams: OK, she comes in hobbling, complaining and winless since Key Biscayne in early April. (Not tournament winless; match winless.) She lost in an undignified manner in Paris in 2008. Don't care. Logic and conventional barometers go out the window when she's playing in a Slam. Having been burned too many times in the past, how do you not pick her to win every Slam she enters?

3. Venus Williams: Like Serena, the track record and usual predictive factors are of little relevance. Still, Venus has never broken through at the French.

4. Elena Dementieva: Sadly, you get the feeling the window is closing fast here. First rule to winning a Slam: In your heart of hearts, you have to believe you're equal to the job. For all of the ability Dementieva possesses, you're just not convinced it's the case here. In spite of it all, she's another short-list contender.

5.Jelena Jankovic: Hammering Jank has regressed in 2009. And with the emergence of Safina, she's not even the "Best Player Never to Have Won a Slam." Same skinny holds: We're unapologetic fans of her character and disposition, but at some point she needs to take that proverbial next step.

6.Vera Zvonareva: Really blossomed over past year. Lacks the weapons to beat the big guns consistently and, like everyone it seems, enters a bit banged up. Still, a semifinal appearance (a la Australia) is certainly possible.

7.Svetlana Kuznetsova: Sadly, she's a top-shelf player who performs as though resigned to the reality she's won her one and only major. Maybe a new coach (Larisa Savchenko) can convince her that, yes, she has the raw material to win every event she enters. This is a real opportunity.

8.Ana Ivanovic: At this writing, the defending champ was still in the draw. But it would be a stretch to put her on the short list of contenders. Even before her knee injury, her game had stalled.

9.Viktoria Azarenka: Newest force has lost some of the mojo she gained in Key Biscayne; she hasn't looked entirely comfortable on the clay this spring. Will reach second week on talent and forceful ball-striking alone, but unlikely to break through here.

10.Carolina Wozniacki: Like Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, it's easy to twin Azarenka and Wozniacki and chart them against each other. Wozniacki has turned in some fine clay results and moves well on any surface. Star this pony in your racing form.

11.NadiaPetrova: Deserves props for reentering the top 10. But she, too, is among the legion of players who suffers from excessive self-doubt.

12.Agnieszka Radwanska: Totally Rad, like Zvonareva, was born a few generations too late, having been forced to compensate for physical liabilities with guile and consistency. Slumping a bit of late. Might live up to her seeding but no more.

13.Marion Bartoli: Always an intriguing player, Bartoli is by her own admission "in her own world a bit," which can work to her advantage. Appears as though French crowd is never entirely sure what to make of her. Her wins this spring include a grind-it-out victory over Venus.

14.Flavia Pennetta: Flavia Flav starts off against Alexa Glatch. If she wins that, she ought to be fine until Serena lurks in the round of 16.

15.Zheng Jie: In a tough quarter but an intriguing player on clay, given her compact strokes and fine movement.

16.Amelie Mauresmo: Nice resurgence by a player who's easy to like -- stop the retirement watch! -- but even in the prime of her career, she had that French Open block.

17.Patty Schnyder: Loopy lefty still out there, winning matches she's supposed to win (especially on clay) and invariably coming up a bit short in the end. Look for more of the same.

18.Anabel Medina Garrigues: If she's going to make noise at a Slam, this is the one.

19.Kaia Kanepi: Rolling Estonian was a surprise quarterfinalist in 2008.

21.Alize Cornet: Has had a rotten 2009 but we still like her game. Maybe the local support will bolster her performance.

22.Carla Suarez Navarro: Big breakthrough came a year ago. Bonus points for the one-handed backhand.

26.Anna Chakvetadze: Slowly working her way back after the mother of all sophomore slumps.

27.Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Haven't heard much from her since Indian Wells in March, but she's a former French junior champ and she's destined for the top 10. Too bad she's slated to face Safina so early.

Sabine Lisicki: Big-serving German has real game and has already beaten Venus on clay this spring. You just wish she were healthier.

Maria Kirilenko: Still finding her game, but always a fun player to watch.

Maria Sharapova: French is the one Slam she's never won. In full health, she would be a threat. But not so soon after her return from "shoulder hell." On the plus side, nice to have her back in the cast.

Yanina Wickmayer: Carrying on the rich tradition of Belgian tennis.

Jelena Dokicvs.Karolina Sprem: Two former names trying to get back.

Alona Bondarenko vs. Dominka Cibulkova: Lots of talent for a first-round match.

Venus Williams vs.Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Ensuring an American reaches Round 2.

Pennetta vs.Glatch: Big opportunity for young American.

Petrova vs. Sharapova: Actually, it's a likely second-rounder. Still, pretty good matchup for early Week 1!

Blue-plate upset special:Sara Errani over Ivanovic.

Cara BlackandLiezel Huber: The clear-cut best in the biz. If successful, they'll complete a career Grand Slam.

Serena Williams vs. Dementieva

Safina vs. Venus Williams

Serena Williams vs. Safina

Serena Williams

To order a copy of Jon Wertheim's' new book, Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played, click here.

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