Hi there, Roma! The main draw for the 2018 Internazionali BNL d’Italia kicked off on Monday with a total of 13 first round matches on the schedule. This is always a fab tournament to follow and i’d love to make it there one day. Read on for eight stories from Monday in Rome…
Roberta Vinci played the final match of her career, going down in three sets to Aleksandra Krunic. Even as she came out the tunnel at the start, Roberta was grinning profusely! The Italian actually started really well and controlled the net against a mostly flat and erratic, Krunic. I returned to work after the first set where Krunic clearly improved and won in three sets, 2-6 6-0 6-3.
Krunic ‘retired’ Kimiko Date last year in her final match in Tokyo and she did it again to Vinci today! It was no surprise to see another warm embrace. The umpire, Mariana Alves also came down from her chair to hug Vinci which i’ve never seen before! Krunic apologised to the crowd with an “i’m sorry” to each side. The end of the match is linked below in the WTA’s highlights package.
I remember first watching Roberta play in Birmingham back in 2012 when she took on Zheng Jie (blast from the past!) in the quarter-finals. Roberta was one of the first players I asked a question to in press at Eastbourne. She was so nice! Her big moment was at the 2015 US Open when she beat Serena Williams and gave one of the best post-match interviews. It was funny to read back my post from that match. I’m going to miss her backhand slice and i’m going to miss her smile. All the best, Roberta 😊😊😊.
Osaka d. Azarenka (Rome, R1)
In the best match-up from the first round, Naomi Osaka stormed past Victoria Azarenka, 6-0 6-3 in just 73 minutes! I was shocked at the scoreline as I had been really impressed with Vika in Madrid. I watched back some of the match this evening. Obviously it wasn’t Vika’s best day but Naomi was hitting the ball beautifully. She was doing a great job at getting Azarenka out wide with not just power but angles.
It’s clear to see from her results that Naomi likes the big stage. I wrote on my match thoughts page about Azarenka being more comfortable on the clay but i’m not sure I agree with my statement there! While lacking experience, Naomi moves pretty well and clay can be helpful for the big hitters as it allows them time to set up. Osaka’s draw doesn’t get any easier in the second round as she will take on the world number one, Simona Halep on Wednesday.
Gavrilova d. Vikhlyantseva (Rome, R1)
Daria Gavrilova came from a set down to improve her record in Rome to 14-3 with a 5-7 6-4 6-3 victory over Natalia Vikhlyantseva. Gavrilova always seems to enjoy making life difficult for herself! You can never doubt her commitment or fighting spirit though as she managed to wear down Vikhlyantseva in the end with a helping of moonballs. A good week for the Vik who had toughed out some big wins in qualies and is steadily building this season after a slow start.
Cibulkova d. Schiavone (Rome, R1)
Francesca Schiavone won a rare set against Dominika Cibulkova who eventually came through for a first win since February, 6-1 6-7(5) 6-2. Fran’s still a joy to watch (see point below).
Kontaveit d. Vandeweghe (Rome, R1)
Anett Kontaveit thrashed CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-1 6-1 in just 54 minutes. It was another confident and assured display from Anett who is one to watch as a dark horse in this draw. For CoCo, she’s going nowhere with this attitude on clay.
Stephens d. Strycova (Rome, R1)
This match was a pleasant surprise – the first set was brilliant! Sloane Stephens rallied from a set down to beat Barbora Strycova, 6-7(4) 6-3 6-1. Strycova played an aggressive opening set but backed off in the second and then tailed off spectacularly with an avalanche of errors in the decider. I think Stephens needed a hard fought match like this and it sets her up well for the rest of the tournament. It was sad to see Barbora so sad at the end as she’s currently riding an eight match losing streak.
The remainder of first round matches will be played on Tuesday in Rome including Sharapova vs. Barty. Two second round matches will be played with Svitolina vs. Martic and Ostapenko vs. Zhang.