Simona Halep vs. Karolina Pliskova, Rome Final Preview

??? Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome FINAL preview + prediction
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? (2) Karolina Pliskova

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will renew their rivalry when they meet for the 12th time with the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title up for grabs. Karolina Pliskova will be aiming to successfully defend her title in Rome whilst Halep will be hoping it’s third time lucky as she aims to win her first title in Rome on her third attempt in the championships match. A blockbuster match-up between the top seeds and a pair of former world number 1’s.

Simona Halep of Romania in action during the semi-final of the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Simona Halep survived a strong challenge from Garbine Muguruza to secure her spot in the final. The Romanian secured a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory over the Spaniard in what was by far her biggest test of the tournament. Halep moved through the earlier stages with straight set wins over Jasmine Paolini and Dayana Yastremska as well as a win via retirement over Yulia Putintseva. Halep has now won 13 matches in a row and will playing to win her third consecutive title.

Karolina Pliskova started her title defense in Rome with a couple of straight set wins over Barbora Strycova and Anna Blinkova. Pliskova faced her biggest test at the quarter-final stage where she defeated the 11th seeded Elise Mertens 6-3 3-6 6-0. The second seed secured her spot in Monday’s championship match with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Marketa Vondrousova.
Halep holds a 7-4 head-to-head record over Pliskova. However, Pliskova has won 3 of the last 4 meetings between the pair, including a 6-0 2-6 6-4 victory in their most recent clash at the WTA Finals Shenzhen last year.

This has historically been a great match-up for Halep, I believe this to be true despite Pliskova’s recent success over the Romanian. Halep reads the Pliskova serve better than most, once Halep neutralizes the powerful first strikes of Pliskova it is Halep who has the distinct advantage from the baseline, especially on a clay court. Halep withstood a very strong challenge from Muguruza in the previous round, a challenge that will leave her primed for this final. Halep is in great form at the moment, likes this match-up and likes the conditions.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 2 sets

Karolina Pliskova vs. Marketa Vondrousova, Rome SF Preview

??? Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome SF preview + prediction
?? (2) Karolina Pliskova vs.?? (12) Marketa Vondrousova

Karolina Pliskova is a couple of wins away from successfully defending her title in Rome. The second seeded Pliskova faces a tough test in Sunday’s second semi-final at the Foro Italico when she comes up against reigning Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova.

A return to the Roman clay has seen a change in fortunes for Karolina Pliskova who has a poor run in the United States. The 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia champion started her 2020 campaign with a 6-3 6-3 win over Barbora Strycova before moving past Anna Blinkova 6-4 6-3. The second seed secured her spot in the semi-finals with a 6-3 3-6 6-0 win over the 11th seeded Elise Mertens.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action during her second-round match at the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Marketa Vondrousova is having her best week on tour since she reached the Roland Garros final last year. It has been a roller-coaster week for the 21-year-old. Vondrousova started the week with a 6-1 4-6 6-4 win over Misaki Doi before beating Arantxa Rus 6-3 6-3. The Czech squeezed past Polona Hercog 6-1 1-6 7-6 in in an epic struggle before producing her best performance of the tournament thus far with a 6-3 6-0 win over the 4th seeded Elina Svitolina.

It was Pliskova who won the only previous meeting between the pair, a 6-3 6-4 win at the quarter-final stage of the Miami Open last year.

Vondrousova is a threat to Pliskova on a clay court. However, I’ll stick with Pliskova here. Vondrousova is having a great week but I’m still not convinced she has what it takes to go to the next level. Pliskova’s stronger game and greater mentality under pressure should give her the edge in the critical moments.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Marketa Vondrousova in 3 sets

Simona Halep vs. Garbine Muguruza, Rome SF Preview

??? Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome SF preview + prediction
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? (9) Garbine Muguruza

Sunday’s first semi-final at the Foro Italico sees a pair of 2-time major champions go head-to-head as the top seeded Simona Halep takes on the 9th seeded Garbine Muguruza. Halep will be aiming to reach her third final in Rome as she seeks a third consecutive title and her first at the Foro Italico. Muguruza will be aiming to reach her first final in Rome as she seeks her first title since Monterrey early last year. This promises to be a quality clash between two players on top of their games, two of the best clay court performers on the WTA Tour.

Simona Halep has eased into a 5th semi-final in Rome without dropping a set. Halep claimed a 6-3 6-4 win over Jasmine Paolini to kick-start her campaign before defeating Dayana Yastremska 7-5 6-4. The reigning Wimbledon champion secured her spot in the final 4 when Yulia Putintseva retired down 2-6 0-2 in their quarter-final clash. Halep is now on a 12-match winning streak and holds an impressive 18-2 win/loss record in 2020, one of those losses came to Muguruza.

Garbine Muguruza has powered through a tough draw in Rome to reach the semi-final stage for the third time. The Spaniard started the week with a 6-3 6-3 win over Sloane Stephens before defeating Cori Gauff 7-6 3-6 6-3. Muguruza eliminated the 7th seeded Johanna Konta with a 6-4 6-1 triumph before fighting from a set and a break down to defeat a red-hot Victoria Azarenka 3-6 6-3 6-4. Muguruza has a 21-5 win/loss record in 2020.

Muguruza holds a 4-2 head-to-head record over Halep. All 4 of Muguruza’s victories came on a hard court, including a 7-6 7-5 victory at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open earlier this year in what was their most recent encounter. Their most recent match on a clay court took place at the semi-final stage of Roland Garros in 2018, Halep won 6-1 6-4.

I’m going to side with Halep here. Importantly it is Halep who has won both of the previous meetings between the pair on a clay court, including a comfortable win at Roland Garros a few years ago. Halep is able to deal with the Spaniard’s power much more efficiently on a clay court, she has more time and has a greater chance to pass Muguruza when she moves up the court in this surface. Halep is in great shape heading into this match having barely played any tennis this week, Muguruza has played some tough matches and couldn’t possibly be in peak condition. Expect Halep to be too strong.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Garbine Muguruza in 2 sets

Simona Halep vs. Yulia Putintseva, Rome QF Preview

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome QF preview + prediction
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? Yulia Putintseva

The first quarter-final of the day at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia sees the top seeded Simona Halep take on an in-form Yulia Putintseva. Both players bring a heap of confidence into this match, Halep is on an 11-match winning streak whilst Putintseva is arguably in career best form.

Simona Halep of Romania in action during the third round at the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Halep is easing her way into the tournament in Rome, a clear favourite to win the title heading into the business end of the event. Halep started the week with a 6-3 6-4 win over Jasmine Paolini before navigating her way past the dangerous Dayana Yastremska with a 7-5 6-4 victory. Halep is a two-time runner-up in Rome and will be keen to go one step better in 2020. The signs are good, the reigning Wimbledon champion is in great shape in all departments.

Putintseva arrived in Rome fresh from a quarter-final showing at the US Open. The 25-year-old has come through a couple of epic matches to reach the final 8 in Rome. The Kazakh started the event with an easy enough 6-2 6-4 win over Rebecca Peterson, then things got a complicated. A 6-3 6-7 6-4 win over the 8th seeded Petra Martic was followed by a 4-6 7-6 6-2 win over Elena Rybakina, Putintseva was down a set and 1-4 in her match with Rybakina before completing a memorable comeback.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place at the Australian Open earlier this year, Halep won 6-1 6-4.

I expect Halep to win this match comfortably. Firstly, this is a great match-up for Halep, Putintseva doesn’t have the weapons to hurt Halep, whilst Halep has the stamina to outlast Putintseva from the back of the court. There is no way through for Putintseva. Furthermore, Putintseva is coming off a pair of draining battles, she is surely running on empty having also just arrived in Europe after her deep run at the US Open. Meanwhile Halep is fresh and firing. Everything is in Halep’s favour.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Yulia Putintseva in 2 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs. Victoria Azarenka, Rome QF Preview

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome QF preview + prediction
?? (9) Garbine Muguruza vs. ?? Victoria Azarenka

A blockbuster quarter-final clash in Rome sees a pair of 2-time major champions go head-to-head when the 9th seeded Garbine Muguruza takes on the red-hot Victoria Azarenka. Muguruza is a dangerous player on clay, the 2016 Roland Garros champion will fancy her chances here.

Garbine Muguruza of Spain in action during her third-round match at the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Muguruza has beaten 3 dangerous opponents on route to the quarter-finals in Rome. The Spaniard started the event with a 6-3 6-3 win over Sloane Stephens before outlasting Coric Gauff 7-6 3-6 6-3. Muguruza produced her most impressive performance of the tournament in the third round where she beat the 7th seeded Johanna Konta 6-4 6-1.

Azarenka is the form player on tour having won 14 of her last 15 matches. Fresh from a runner-up showing at the US Open, Azarenka has shown little signs of slowing down in Rome. Azarenka started the event with a hard-fought 7-6 6-2 win over Venus Williams before smashing the third seeded Sofia Kenin 6-0 6-0. The Belarussian secured her spot in the final 8 via a retirement when Kasatkina injured herself at 6-6 in the opening set of their third round match.

Azarenka holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Muguruza. Azarenka defeated Muguruza via a retirement in Rome last year. Their only completed match without a retirement was in Miami 2016, Azarenka won 7-6 7-6.

This is a very tough match to call. I’m going to go for the upset here. Muguruza has the game and the form to bring down Azarenka. If Muguruza is patient and is able to execute her game, she should be able to overpower Azarenka on a clay court. Muguruza’s aggressive returns and ability to move up the court will help her in this matchup. However, if Muguruza is off her game, Azarenka will be too solid. Muguruza seems to be playing well enough to suggest she will produce a good performance in this match.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Victoria Azarenka in 3 sets

Marketa Vondrousova vs. Polona Hercog, Rome R3 Preview

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome R3 preview + prediction
?? (12) Marketa Vondrousova vs. ?? Polona Hercog

The final quarter-final spot at the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia will be determined when the 12th seeded Marketa Vondrousova takes on Slovenia’s Polona Hercog. This will be the first career meeting between the pair on a surface that traditionally brings out the best of both players.

Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in action during her second-round match at the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Vondrousova has finally won back-to-back main draw matches for the first time since Adelaide in January. The 2019 Roland Garros runner-up came through a roller-coaster opening round match where she defeated Misaki Doi 6-1 4-6 6-4. The 21-year-old claimed a more commanding victory in the second round as she eased past Arantxa Rus 6-3 6-3.

It was during last season’s European clay court swing that Vondrousova took her game to another level, winning the title in Istanbul, reaching the quarter-finals in Rome and then making it all the way to the final in Paris without dropping a set. Things haven’t been great since then for rising star, but perhaps this is the week that her fortunes will finally turn.

Polona Hercog is playing in her fourth clay court event since the tour restart, the 29-year-old is playing some decent tennis having reached the quarter-finals in Istanbul last week. Hercog started her Rome campaign with a 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over Kaja Juvan before upsetting the 5th seeded Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-4.

I’m going to side with Vondrousova here. Hercog is a powerful player on clay but Vondrousova moves better than just about anyone on this surface which will negate the strengths of Hercog. Hercog is also the type of player that relies on winning a high percentage of her service games, this will be problematic against one of the better returns of serve on tour. Vondrousova’s lefty pattern of play also plays nicely into the weaker Hercog backhand side, Vondrousova also has the power and versatility to expose the movement of Hercog. A seemingly good match-up for Vondrousova on a heavy clay court.

Prediction: Marketa Vondrousova to defeat Polona Hercog in 2 sets

Simona Halep vs. Dayana Yastremska, Rome R3 Preview

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome R3 preview + prediction
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? Dayana Yastremska

Simona Halep continues her 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign on Friday with a potentially dangerous third round clash against Dayana Yastremska. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, a match-up of contrasting styles, can the flashy Ukrainian get the better of the 2-time runner-up in Rome?

Simona Halep is on a 10-match winning streak. The world number 2 won the premier-level title in Dubai just before the tour shutdown and won the Prague Open in her return to action last month. The reigning Wimbledon champion made a solid start in Rome with a 6-3 6-4 win over Jasmine Paolini having received a bye in the opening round. Halep is the top seed and favourite to go on to win the title in Rome this week.

Halep has surprisingly never won the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and will be keen to change that over the coming days. Halep twice reached the championship match in Rome, in 2017 and 2018, on both occasions she was defeated by Elina Svitolina. Halep has also reached the semi-finals in Rome on a couple of other occasions, in 2013 and 2015.

Dayana Yastremska has come through a pair of roller-coaster matches to reach the third round in Rome. A 7-5 6-7 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi was followed by a 4-6 7-6 6-4 win over Amanda Anisimova. Yastremska has already been involved 6 tight three 3 matches in her 4 tournaments since the tour restart.

I expect Halep to come through this one quite comfortably. Yastremska is dangerous but far too inconsistent to have much of a hope against Halep on a clay court. Yastremska’s level has swung wildly in recent times, from match-to-match and within matches, a far more consistent effort is required against Halep. The Romanian is one a select few players on the WTA tour that consistently achieves great results on clay. Expect the far superior consistency, discipline and stamina of Halep to see her through this one.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Dayana Yastremska in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams, Rome R2 Preview

#IBI19 Rome R2 Preview
?? (10) Serena Williams vs. ?? (WC) Venus Williams

Serena Williams and Venus Williams will go head-to-head for the 31st time when they do battle at the second round stage of the Internazionali bnl d’Italia, Rome. Serena had dominated this match-up in recent times having won 9 of the last 11 meetings between the pair, however this will be their first meeting on clay in over 6 years and their first on red clay in over 14 years, so it will be interesting to see how the match pans out.

Venus Williams of the United States in action during her first-round match at the 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Serena Williams made her much anticipated return to action with a fairly comfortable straight set win over Rebecca Peterson in Rome. Williams had not played since a 3 set opening round win over Rebecca Peterson in Miami. The tennis gods drew the pair together again in Rome and this time Williams was far too strong, winning 6-4 6-2. Importantly, the Williams serve was strong, she served 10 aces and won 82% of her first service points.

Venus Williams was also in action for the first time since Miami on Monday in Rome. Venus was made to work extremely hard to claim a gruelling upset victory over Elise Mertens in over 3 hours of play. Williams squandered 8 match points and saw a 5-1 third set lead evaporate before finally clinching a 7-5 3-6 7-6 victory over the Belgian, one of the biggest wins for Venus in recent times.

Serena holds an 18-12 head-to-head record over Venus. Serena thrashed Venus 6-1 6-2 at the US Open last year in their most recent match. Interestingly their second round meeting in Rome will be their first match-up on red clay since Roland Garros in 2002, so this will be a rare sight in one of the tour’s most prominent match-ups.

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Kiki Bertens vs. Amanda Anisimova, Rome R2 Preview

#IBI19 Rome R2 Preview
?? (6) Kiki Bertens vs. ?? (LL) Amanda Anisimova

Kiki Bertens begins her Rome campaign with a second round clash against Amanda Anisimova. Bertens arrives in Rome on a high having won the title in Madrid last week and is looming as one of the favourites heading into the second Grand Slam of the year. Bertens will be keen to continue her strong form in Rome and enters this match as a clear favourite.

Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in action during her semi-final match at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament on route to winning the title. 

Kiki Bertens is the form player on tour at the moment having won the biggest title of her career at the Mutua Madrid Open last week which meant she climbed to a career high ranking of number 4 in the world. Bertens won the title in Madrid in style as she went through the tournament without dropping a set, the first player to ever achieve that feat. Bertens beat quality players such as Petra Kvitova, Sloane Stephens and Simona Halep on route to the title. Clay has always been Bertens’ best surface and suddenly she is looming as a genuine contender to win Roland Garros in a few weeks’ time, she could perhaps even be the favourite.

Unlike Bertens, clay is not a surface Anisimova is comfortable on. Anisimova did win her first career title on the red dirt in Bogota last month but I’m not convinced by her game on this surface. Anisimova suffered a shock loss in the opening round of qualifying in Madrid to Marta Kostyuk and stumbled at the final qualifying stage in Rome to Kristina Mladenovic but received a main draw wild card. Anisimova went on to defeat Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-3 6-3 in the opening round to set up a clash with Bertens.

This will be the first career meeting between Bertens and Anisimova.

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Simona Halep vs Elina Svitolina, Rome Final Preview

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, ??? Rome Final Preview
(6) ?? Simona Halep vs (8) ?? Elina Svitolina

Saturday’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia final promises to be a an epic battle as an in-form Simona Halep comes up against a dogged Elina Svitolina at the Foro Italico. Simona Halep will be looking to capture the perfect momentum boost heading into Roland Garros by winning the Madrid/Rome double but it won’t be easy for the Romanian as Elina Svitolina has been one of the most consistent players on tour all year. The Ukrainian heads into Saturday’s final looking for her fourth and biggest title of the year.

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