WTA Rome 2015: Preview and Predictions

After last weekend’s festivities, Moo’s Tennis Blog is back with a full tournament preview and accompanying first round previews (tomorrow) for the 2015 Internazionali BNL D’Italia in Rome.  The tennis in Madrid has been superb this week, but the tournament bugs me big time with their scheduling and general lack of respect for the WTA.  I always enjoy Rome and it is commonly said that the conditions are most similar to that of Roland Garros.  The draw looks intriguing with some superb first rounders and potentially devilish second rounders… sorry, Caro.  Note that the top eight seeds all have byes into the second round.  Let’s take a look at the draw…

HalepAs always, Serena Williams headlines the draw and arrives in Rome having suffered her first defeat of the year to Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals of Madrid.  It was a surprising defeat as Serena had never lost to Petra and had looked so sharp at the start of the week.  Serena’s first match of the week in Rome will be against either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Sam Stosur.  Both players reached the third round in Madrid and have had excellent results on the clay, particularly Stosur.  Serena is projected to meet Sara Errani in the third round in what would be a rematch of last year’s final.  Serena and Sara met in Fed Cup action a few weeks ago where Errani came surprisingly close to the victory, eventually falling, 4-6 7-6(3) 6-3.  Errani’s first round match against Daniela Hantuchova appears an ideal opener with Daniela on a four match losing streak, but the 32-year-old Slovak did win their last encounter at the start of the year in Auckland.

This first quarter is packed with quality first round matches and the most eye-catching of those features Karolina Pliskova and Timea Bacsinszky, two of the in-form players in 2015.  The winner of that match will progress through to the second round to contest the victor of another intriguing first rounder between Sloane Stephens and Sabine Lisicki.  The top eight seed in this section is Ana Ivanovic, who will meet Belinda Bencic or a qualifier in her first match of the week.  Ivanovic had an encouraging week in Madrid where she notched up two wins and played a pretty decent match against Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round. Losing against Carla is by no means a disgrace.  Her footwork was not quite there, but there were signs she may have turned a corner after a stuttering and injury-plagued first four months of the year.

Victoria Azarenka continues to wreak havoc with the draws this year and for the third time this year, it looks like Caroline Wozniacki drew the short straw. Azarenka plays Casey Dellacqua in the first round; the Aussie is on a six match losing streak on the WTA tour stretching back to Dubai where she lost a lengthy match against Lucie Safarova, 7-5 in the decider.  If Azarenka wins that match, she will play Wozniacki in the second round.  In their two previous encounters this year Azarenka wrapped up straight set wins with pretty dominant displays.  To add to the draw woes, Angelique Kerber has also been bundled into this eighth of the draw.  The champion of Charleston and Stuttgart lost her first match in Madrid to Sam Stosur although it’s fair to say she was probably still fatigued from that awesome run.

The winner of that tasty Wozniacki-Kerber-Azarenka section is projected to play Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals.  After coming through two tight three setters against Caroline Garcia and Caroline Wozniacki in Madrid, Sharapova came unstuck against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semi-finals of Madrid.  Her opponent played great, but Sharapova was well below her best and needs more matches in Rome it would seem to set herself up for Paris.  Sharapova’s first match will be against either Jarmila Gajdosova or a qualifier and she could be in line for third round rematch with Garcia.  The Frenchwoman would first have to get through a qualifier and then take out a Madison in the second round with the two Madisons, Madison Keys and Madison Brengle set to play in the first round.

The third quarter is the most open with the likes of Petra Kvitova, Eugenie Bouchard, Carla Suarez Navarro and Jelena Jankovic.  Kvitova, who won her second Madrid title, will play an Italian in the first round, either Karin Knapp or Francesca Schiavone.  Jankovic is returning to the tour for the first time since Charleston due to a foot injury.  She’s been dealt a toughie with Camila Giorgi in the first round.  This is the one match that is giving me dilemmas.  Giorgi can zone against anyone and will be playing in front of a home crowd.  Jankovic could be rusty but then again, she lovessss Rome and always performs well here.  Bouchard is having a tough time of it and is currently on a six match losing streak.  Her first match of the week will be against Zarina Diyas or Tsvetana Pironkova.  You have to think she snaps out of her funk soon, but i’m not sure if it will be here.  I’d back Carla, who plays Mona Barthel in the first round, to sweep through this section.

Simona Halep should be well rested and ready for clay court tennis in Rome after a first round exit to Alize Cornet in Madrid.  She will play either Alison Riske or Varvara Lepchenko in the second round.  If she reaches the third round, her opponent will come from a brutal quartet featuring four top 25 players with first round matches featuring Venus Williams up against Garbine Muguruza and Flavia Pennetta playing Elina Svitolina.  The other top eight seed in this section is Ekaterina Makarova, who could face a Madrid rematch with the finalist, Svetlana Kuznetsova.  Kuznetsova thrashed Makarova, 6-2 6-1 in the first round of Madrid.  Kuznetsova could also meet Lucie Safarova in the third round.  Safarova, who will open against two qualifiers, is playing in Rome for the first time since 2011 as it had always previously clashed with the ITF event in Prague, which has now been upgraded to a WTA event.  This eighth will all depend on whether Kuznetsova has anything left in the tank but after the Madrid final, it wouldn’t be a surprise if she pulls out.  Safarova is probably the favourite to reach the quarters although there are likely to be some pretty handy qualifiers..

Quarter-final predictions: S.Williams v Pliskova, Sharapova v Azarenka, Suarez Navarro v Kvitova and Safarova v Halep

Semi-final predictions: S.Williams v Sharapova, Suarez Navarro v Halep

Final Prediction: S.Williams d. Halep

17 thoughts on “WTA Rome 2015: Preview and Predictions

  1. I certainly on almost every level agree with u.
    Time looks a very delightful draw.Quite a l I t of grueling 1st rounders but I guess that makes it interesting.
    Keep up the good work James and hei,what happened with the atp previews,I have been dying to catch up to your thoughts, but none came up for the Madrid event.are u not blogging on atps anymore. .curious fan!

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    • Thanks for the comment, waddle. I haven’t been posting many ATP previews this year, purely because I just don’t have enough time! I’m hoping to cover ATP more during the grass court season. I’m still posting my ATP predictions though which you can find in a tab at the top of the page.

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  2. I really do hope Petra turns her awful losing record against Carla in the QFs. I dont like CSN at all, and find her to be incredibly annoying (has to do with the way she celebrated after making it to the QFs of the U.S Open in 2013), and I absolutely enjoy the way Serena hammers her every time they meet. Nonetheless, she has been playing great so far, and it will be interesting to see whether Petra can finally snap that losing streak against her (if it comes to that!). But I do have high hopes for Petra at this tournament! she did make back to back finals during the asian swing last year (Wuhan and Beijing), so im hoping for her to have another strong run.

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    • Although I bassically agree with you, I think Petra will not commit herself fully to this tournament. She had to take a break because of exhaustion and after such a long tournament in Madrid and with RG coming…I think she’ll welcome anybody that can put her to rest asap, since she’s probably not allowed to withdraw from a P5 event. I hardly wait for her to meet Serena again in RG, under circumstances of good physical condition, to teach “the Queen” a lesson again.

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      • Serena nor Sharapova played their best. They both were sluggish . Lets see how they play in rome. They both have tough draws.

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    • Azarenka of course, by the rule of diversity of playing. Alike Kusnetsova, Azarenka can bring a lot of tricks into play, especially on clay. She had Serena cooked and ready before inexplicably choking at the very end.

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  3. Madrid has felt almost like a Slam and Rome looks just as intense. If Serena is happy and healthy, her loss in Spain could push her to a win here. I just fear she may withdraw at some point so as not to risk injury at the French.

    I have no clue who will take it if Serena doesn’t. The clay season is completely on its head right now. Who’d have thought Kerber and Kvitova would be the in form players?!

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    • Last year she compromised her RG campaign by doing that. I think there is a lesson to learn here, even for an old fox like Serena.

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      • I dont think winning Rome cost her the French. I think complacency did. She admitted early this year that last year she went into each Slam sure she would win for the first time in her career. Losing in Madrid and struggling at the Fed Cup should push her to grind it out.

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  4. Roma is one of my favorite clay events,I feel it is a good warm up for all players before Roland Garos.Roma is a true fast court,compared to Roland Garos,which is slow to medium.Though if players play at night with the cooler conditions the balls tend to get heavier,the surface of the court slows down to.

    I will be interested to see how Serena,Maria and Halep rebound after Madrid,though I do not place too much importance on Madrid,seeing it is played at high altitude.Can Petra continue her form from Madrid,it has already been stated she is now one of the favorites this year to win Roland Garos? personally I think that was too early a call.

    Can’t wait for the tournament to begin.I am picking Halep to win.

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    • Its the same people who thought Petra would win in Melbourne after taking the title in Sydney. And we all know what happened there.

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  5. I hope caroline surprise us. 2nd round with Azerenka is really bad, but if she pulls through that will sure give her confidence entering RG

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  6. James, mate, haven’t commented much lately, busy with things, but I must say, I do appreciate seeing you’ve taken suggestions in consideration and seeing Simona in one of the featured images. Thumbs up man, what’s fair is fair!

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