WTA Rome 2018 – Match Thoughts & Polls

Rome Final Match Thought for Sunday

Simona Halep vs. Elina Svitolina: I was out yesterday so didn’t see either SFs and halfway through Sharapenko so i’m wayyy behind! A repeat of last year’s final and the first final i’ve got right on Draw Challenge all year. Svitolina has won their last two matches on hard courts. The pair’s only three setters have both come on clay. They’ve had some wild matches before and i’d both guess and hope for a three setter. Perhaps swaying slightly to Svits but based on how their H2H has gone, Halep is due a win!

Rome SF Match Thoughts for Saturday

Elina Svitolina vs. Anett Kontaveit: New match-up alert klaxon! Kontaveit has been fantastic through the last three tournaments, hitting beautifully and holding it together mentally. She’s looked an absolute force on the clay. It doesn’t feel like Svitolina has hit top form yet but she’s getting there. Wins over Kasatkina and Kerber are not too shabby. I’m really intrigued to see what Kontaveit can do here and whether her brutal baseline barrage can take the game away from Svitolina. I’m still a bit concerned that Svitolina has gone into her shell at times in some big matches. I’d probably give the edge to Svitolina but it feels like a passive pick!

Simona Halep vs. Maria Sharapova: The pair will meet for the 9th time with Halep finally ending seven straight losses with a stunning 6-2 6-2 win in Beijing. A few concerns for this one – what has Sharapova got left in the tank after a brutal week? And for Halep, I wasn’t convinced from her display vs. Garcia although she didn’t have to raise her game. Sharapova’s won both their previous matches on clay in three sets. I feel like going for Sharapova but I am concerned by all the matches she has played this week back-to-back. Halep will need to up the ante if she’s going to win this one. I can’t really get a sense of where Halep’s confidence level is this week. She’s dropped just six games in two matches but hasn’t been pushed hard or tested yet.

Rome SF Polls for Saturday

Rome QF Match Thoughts for Friday

Simona Halep vs. Caroline Garcia: Hmmm another tough quarter-final match for Halep who has dropped just one game this tournament after getting a walkover from Madison Keys in the third round. Garcia had a late wobble against Stephens but looked mostly sharp and was excellent on her serve. Halep leads the H2H, 3-1 with Garcia’s lone win coming in the final of Beijing last year. I think i’d go Simona here 60-40. I like the way that CarGar is playing but beating Halep on clay requires a huge performance.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Maria Sharapova: I was disappointed when they didn’t play in Madrid last week so excited to see this match-up happen in Rome. Sharapova’s having another great week. I read so many tweets about her being done and dusted after a rough spell between AO and Madrid 😂. I’m not personally surprised to see Sharapova finding some form now seemingly in better health/fitness. Ostapenko is definitely maturing on court and she was surprisingly solid, particularly mentally, against Konta. I’ve always thought Sharapova plays big hitters who hit with depth well. Still, I think Ostapenko may be fresher and won’t be too overrawed by the prospect of this match-up. Ostapenko in 3.

Elina Svitolina vs. Angelique Kerber: Props to Kerber for making her first quarter-final on clay since Stuttgart 2016. There are some big points up for grabs at RG where she lost in the first round last year. I’m not sure what happened to Svitolina in the first set vs Kasatkina (hurt her hand I read?) but the defending champ won in three. Not watched any of their matches so can’t really give a valid opinion. The H2H speaks volumes with Svitolina winning their last five matches and last three in straights. You’d think Svits would be even more likely to win on clay. Svitolina is the clear favourite for me but I am wary. It would just be classic WTA for Kerbs to come out of nowhere, andddd on clay, to bag a win over Svits!

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Anett Kontaveit: Big match this one. Woz is still going for world number one although I question how much she is really bothered by it. Their last encounter was a bit of a crusher for Kontaveit who served for the match at Wimby. Woz won, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-2. There were other factors at play but Kontaveit struggled for the rest of the year after that loss. Kontaveit seems to be very comfortable on clay and she’s scored three quality wins this week, all in straight sets. She’s been holding her nerve in the pressure moments. Woz looked good on Thursday night and positive too, going after her shots in a decent match against Sevastova. This is the toughest match to call of the four for me. I think it’s a big one for Kontaveit after what happened at Wimby and I would expect that match is one that lives long in the memory. Close to 50-50. I’ll go for Anett.

Rome QF Polls for Friday

Rome R3 Match Thoughts for Thursday

Simona Halep vs. Madison Keys: First time we will see this match-up since Singapore 2016! Halep’s won their last five and has generally dominated this H2H as Keys has been unable to break Halep down. Keys seemed to be battling a back injury in her win over Vekic on Wednesday. Even without that possible injury, i’d take Halep in straights here on her favourite surface. No pressure though for Madison so hope she can win more games than Naomi!

Caroline Garcia vs. Sloane Stephens: Very intrigued by this one. I watched the pair play an absolute shocker at Eastbourne in 2014 which was their last match-up on tour. Stephens hasn’t hit top form yet on the clay but I feel the two hard fought three setters have been much needed and she’s on her way. A bit on the fence with this one. Conditions should suit Sloane and I feel like she could suddenly snap into form. At the same I think CarGar is playing well enough to power through. Sloane will need to step it up as I don’t think defence and being passive will be enough. CarGar in 3.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Johanna Konta: The pair’s only previous match was in Eastbourne last year where Konta won, 7-5 3-6 6-4. Ostapenko seems the more obvious pick on clay but I do honestly believe Konta is better on this surface than her results make out. Not much to say on this one. I guess Ostapenko?

Angelique Kerber vs. Maria Sakkari: Brilliant three set wins for both – Sakkari to score her biggest career win over Ka. Pliskova and Kerber to beat off a competent clay courter and someone she has lost to before in Begu. I really like Sakkari and I think she’s going places. I’d actually give Sakkari a good shot at the “upset” as she’s much more comfortable on clay. That win over Begu may have been a game changer for Kerber on clay? I’m on the fence again…

Elina Svitolina vs. Daria Kasatkina: Bummed by this draw. I feel like this is a rough match-up for Dasha and she’s going to have to play a blinder to stay with Svitolina. I don’t think she can outlast her so she’ll need to be positive and go after her forehand. I like them both but would love to see Dasha win. Honestly, I think Svitolina will prevail.

Venus Williams vs. Anett Kontaveit: A rematch from Madrid where Kontaveit rallied from a set down to win in three. I was so impressed with that performance from Kontaveit as she showed a lot of belief, which has not always been there. Kontaveit has played great since that match and has two good wins over Vandeweghe and Kuznetsova under her belt in Rome. Venus is never to be written off, even on clay. However, I am still going for Kontaveit as she’s just looked so confident and comfortable on the clay.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Anastasija Sevastova: Haven’t watched any of their matches this week. Woz leads the head-to-head, 4-0 and has never dropped a set to Sevastova. They’ve never played on clay though. I’m going purely on instinct with this one… Sevastova for the win.

Rome R3 Polls for Thursday

Wednesday’s Matches

Busy day yesterday and off to work now so nothing for Wednesday’s matches. I’ll have something up for Thursday later today.

Rome R2 Match Thoughts for Tuesday

Elina Svitolina vs. Petra Martic: The first second round match of the tournament will be a rematch of a fierce fourth rounder at Roland Garros last year where Svitolina escaped with a 4-6 6-3 7-5 three set win over Martic having been down 2-5 in the third set. Martic has been an absolute revelation over the last year and her comeback has still gone somewhat under the radar. She scored her first top ten win in five and a half years when she beat Ostapenko at IW and here she will be going for her first top five win. Despite not really getting going yet on the clay, i’d go for Svits in straights. I wouldn’t be surprised if Martic nicked a set but I would be surprised if she scored the upset.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Zhang Shuai: First time match-up on tour between the pair. Ostapenko turned her year around in Miami where she reached the final and looked dangerous in Stuttgart before losing out to the eventual champ, Pliskova. An early loss in Madrid to Begu was a surprise. I feel like this one could go either way as Zhang can handle the big hitters. 55-45 in favour of Ostapenko.

Rome R1 Match Thoughts for Tuesday

Ash Barty vs. Maria Sharapova: I can’t call this one! The surface will favour Sharapova but I do think Barty is slowly building experience on clay and she’s got a great tactical tennis brain. I’m a little biased as I am really fond of Ash. She’s the seed but will be the underdog. Of all the matches, i’m most fascinated to see who wins this one.

Anastasija Sevastova vs. Kristina Mladenovic: This will be a first match-up in eight years! Both are known to go on mental walkabouts and both have nice touches to their game. Sevastova in 3.

Timea Babos vs. Sara Errani: Babos has actually done pretty well against Errani having split their four meetings. They’ve never played before on clay though where Errani is at her best and particularly in Rome where she has had some smashing results. Errani in 2.

Angelique Kerber vs. Zarina Diyas: It will be interesting to see how Kerber’s leg holds up here. Diyas’s form hasn’t been so great since qualifying for the Stuttgart main draw but she’s a good player. Slightly wary for Kerbs, could go the distance.

Daria Kasatkina vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: Tomljanovic has been playing well of late but I think Kasatkina will be too solid and gritty here. Interested to see how Dasha gets on after getting injured in the first round of Rome last year.

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Hsieh Su-Wei: This should be a ball. Hipster match of the day. Sabalenka’s had a couple of shaky moments of late and has lost five of her last seven three setters. I tend to think Hsieh might be at her tricky best here.

Kiki Bertens vs. Maria Sakkari: Rough draw again for Sakkari. Bertens may be tired but think she will be too good again. Confidence must be sky high even after the loss in the Madrid final to Petra.

Rome R1 Polls for Tuesday

Rome R1 Match Thoughts for Monday

Naomi Osaka vs. Victoria Azarenka: Match of the day for sure and a tad disappointed it is during the day so won’t be able to watch live. The pair have played before at the Australian Open in 2016 when Azarenka won handily, 6-1 6-1. Aside from the win over Serena in Miami and a gritty win over Laura Siegemund in Charleston, Osaka’s not done a great deal since her Indian Wells title. I thought Madrid’s quick courts may suit her but she lost first round to Zhang Shuai.

I’m fascinated to see who wins this one. I’m more inclined to pick Azarenka as I think she’s much more comfortable on the clay. I was also really impressed with her level in Madrid where she just came up short against an in-form Ka. Pliskova in the second round. Her serve held up well and it was just a few points here and there.

Sloane Stephens vs. Barbora Strycova: Monday’s late night match will be a fifth installment in the Stephens-Strycova head-to-head (2-2). Strycova is currently riding a seven match losing streak and the draw has not been so kind here. They’ve never played on clay before which I guess would favour Stephens. The American has thrown in a couple of poor performances since Miami so it’s difficult to gauge where her level will be at.

Madison Keys vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: The pair just met in Stuttgart a few weeks ago where Pavs won a tight first round tussle, 7-6(7) 5-7 6-4. Pavs is still at only four wins for the year, while Keys played an absolute shocker in Madrid, losing to Sara Sorribes Tormo. It wasn’t a great surprise to hear the news afterwards that she has split with Dieter Kindlmann. As bad as that performance was, i’d take Keys here as she can feed off Pav’s pace, unlike that awful match in Madrid. Keys has made the final before in Rome and I think she will be eager to improve.

Dominika Cibulkova vs. Francesca Schiavone: Someone will snap a losing streak here – Schiavone has lost her last six matches and hasn’t played in over two months (injury?), while Cibulkova is winless since Budapest. I’m glad to see Schiavone get to play Rome this year although she’s been dumped on the Next Gen Arena which generally seems to be devoid of atmosphere. Cibulkova leads the head-to-head, 4-0. The Slovak player hasn’t done much of note this year but i’d be more inclined to side with her in this clash having played the last couple of weeks and with previous success in the H2H.

Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Johanna Konta: A Madrid rematch! Konta played a really sound match to beat Rybarikova in Madrid, 6-3 7-5. Rome is slower and I guess that may help Rybarikova out as she was doing all the defending in last week’s match. Konta’s never lost a set to Rybarikova in three matches which surprises me because I would have guessed Rybarikova’s game is one that would trouble Konta and halt her rhythm. Their three previous clashes have been on grass or quick clay so I wonder if this match may be their most competitive yet.

Aleksandra Krunic vs. Roberta Vinci: Ohhhh Roberta! This could be her last match and i’m glad to see it get Pietrangeli. Vinci hasn’t won a match on clay since beating Kasatkina in Madrid last year and Krunic has won all their previous matches. I remember Krunic retired Kimiko Date last year and it could be the same here. I’m expecting another epic handshake/hug…

CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Anett Kontaveit: A huge hitting clash for Pietrangeli. I feel like Vandeweghe can do things on clay but her mindset is pretty negative to this surface. I’m going with the upset here as Kontaveit has looked confident and assured in her last two tournaments and clearly likes clay. The Estonian player is defending QF points from 2017.

Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Donna Vekic: I’ve been quite impressed with Vekic of late and she gave Muguruza a tough match in Madrid, perhaps should have closed it out as Muguruza was there for the taking. I wouldn’t rule out the upset but CSN is a cracking clay courter and played some great tennis at her home tournament.

Sam Stosur vs. Alison Van Uytvanck: Not really sure what to expect from Sam. She’s thrown in some shockers of late but I still believe her game can do some damage on clay. It’s the consistency and focus that is the issue. AVU is solid on clay. A bit of a toss-up. I’ll stick with Sam.

Daria Gavrilova vs. Natalia Vikhlyantseva: Court 6?! This is my hipster match of the day and i’d be thereeee if I was in Rome tomorrow. Vikhlyantseva had two excellent wins in qualifying, beating Pera and Sabalenka in three sets. She has qualified for the main draws of both Madrid and Rome, and her form has picked up a bit after a slow start to the year. I’d go with Gavs here, mostly based on how she has always played well in Rome. The Vik is dangerous for sure.

Rome R1 Polls for Monday

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on TwitterFacebook and Instagram