Ciao Roma! Main draw action begins on Monday with Iga Swiatek headlining another cracking draw. I think it’s widely regarded that the conditions in Rome are much more Paris-like than Madrid so i’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on the results this week. Read on for draw takeaways and what to look out for this week in Rome. I won’t be blogging during the week but will be back next weekend for a round-up.
The draw 🎇
First rounders 🔥
Emma Raducanu vs. Bianca Andreescu: Oof. A brutal first round draw. Unsurprisingly, the pair have never played each other before. My initial instinct when I saw the draw was Andreescu wins this. The more i’ve thought about it, the more positive I feel towards Raducanu.
Naomi Osaka vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo: Nooooo I was really hoping Osaka would get a favourable draw, at least for the opportunity to play more matches on this surface. Sorribes Tormo beat Osaka, 6-3 6-1 last week in Madrid. I would have thought that the conditions would favour SST even more. Hopefully Osaka has overcome the achilles injury that was strapped up during the Madrid match and that she can learn from last week. A tough ask to reverse that result.
Coco Gauff vs. Angelique Kerber: Just a second meeting between Gauff and Kerber. On paper it feels like a decent opportunity for Gauff who is generally more at home on the clay. I remember from their Wimbledon match last year that Kerber managed to expose the Gauff forehand. Don’t really know where Kerber is right now with her game.
Simona Halep vs. Alizé Cornet: Cornet beat Halep earlier in the year at the Australian Open to reach her first Slam quarter-final in what was a bruising encounter in very hot conditions. Cornet also leads the head-to-head, 4-1, which is a surprise! I’d like to see aggressive Halep turn up for this match.
Madison Keys vs. Anhelina Kalinina: Madrid and Rome are tough draws. Kalinina has now drawn Stephens and Keys first round. Keys has had Sakkari and Kalinina. Kalinina beat Keys recently in Miami, 3-6 6-3 6-4. And Kalinina is likely to be brimming with confidence after reaching the last eight in Madrid.
Jessica Pegula vs. Liudmila Samsonova: Surprised Pegula doesn’t get a bye in the first round (i’m sure they’ve done that in the past for Madrid finalists?) and she will have her work cut out with Samsonova who, while blowing hot and cold, can be pretty lethal when on it. Pegula will be all too aware having been beaten by Samsonova at Wimbledon last year.
Ekaterina Alexandrova vs. Sloane Stephens: Their only previous meeting was one of the scorelines of all time – Stephens won, 0-6 7-6(3) 7-6(3). Alexandrova is fresh off a run to the semis in Madrid. Can she hit through Sloane on these courts?
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Leylah Fernandez: The pair have played once before in a match that eluded my brain. Fernandez beat Pavs at Indian Wells last fall, 5-7 6-3 6-4. Pavs looking for her first win since Oz.
Potential matches to circle 🤞:
Emma Raducanu/Bianca Andreescu vs. Naomi Osaka/Sara Sorribes Tormo (R2): Of course, the winners of arguably the two most high profile first rounders will collide in the second round. All the possibilities are endlessly dreamy!
Anett Kontaveit vs. Karolina Muchova (R2): Not sure why Kontaveit pulled out of Madrid but she could get off to a tricky start if Muchova wins her opening match. Muchova won their two previous meetings in 2019.
Belinda Bencic vs. Amanda Anisimova (R2): Bencic was undercooked when the pair last played in Melbs and Anisimova won, 6-2 7-5. Bencic is a different player right now and has impressed in Charleston and Madrid. I’m still not entirely convinced by Bencic on clay so intrigued to see how she gets on in Rome.
Danielle Collins vs. Simona Halep (R2): If Halep wins her opener against Cornet, she would have to adjust to a completely different opponent in round two against Collins. Not sure where Danyell is right now. She didn’t look right in Madrid?
Coco Gauff/Angelique Kerber vs. Clara Tauson/Marta Kostyuk (R2): I’m down for all these possibilities. In particular, I think Tauson against either Gauff or Kerber would be a delightful clash in game styles.
Elena Rybakina vs. Jelena Ostapenko (R2): Helmets at the ready.
Paula Badosa vs. Veronika Kudermetova (R2): Would be a third meeting since March with Badosa looking to level the H2H at 3-3.
Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Ons Jabeur (R3): Garbi and Ons have produced some fun matches in the past so this would be a treat if it actually happened.
Fun facts 🤓
Iga Swiatek is the defending champion in Rome after her 6-0 6-0 rout of Karolina Pliskova in last year’s final. The only other previous winners in this draw are Simona Halep (2020) and Karolina Pliskova (2019).
Emma Raducanu, Bianca Andreescu, Karolina Muchova, Anhelina Kalinina and Clara Tauson are all playing the Rome main draw for the first time in their career.
QF Predictions 🏵️
Swiatek vs. Muchova
Kalinina vs. Halep
Muguruza vs. Sakkari
Ostapenko vs. Badosa
Right. I took a ridiculous gamble in Madrid so my confidence is pretty low 😂. Looo and behold I ended up with Swiatek as champ. I think this is a very important tournament for a lot of the top ten after early exits in Madrid. I actually think a loss here for Swiatek would be a good thing before Rolly G. I just feel there will be more pressure and expectation at the French if she wins Rome. Let’s see…