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.
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