First round play in the Internazionali BNL Italia got underway on Monday on the red clay courts in the Italian capital – the last premier tournament before the French Open which starts on May 26. Although unseeded, it was still a surprise to see Venus Williams, who is now ranked at 24, bumped out of the competition in the first round. She played leftie Laura Robson, the 39th ranked British teenager and it took her less than an hour and a quarter to defeat the American. A major factor in Williams’ defeat was her poor serving – no aces and six double faults – usually such strong armour in her game. The final score of 6-3 6-2 sees Robson into the second round where she will meet Venus’ sister, Serena.
Another veteran of the game, 37th ranked Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, took to the court to play against Simona Halep, the 64th ranked Roumanian clay court specialist. In this one hour and eight minute long match, the unconventional but very talented Halep totally dismantled the Russian’s game and won easily, 6-1 6-1 to move into the second round where she will meet 4th seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
In a surprise result, the 93rd ranked American qualifier, Melanie Oudin, got the win against the 20th ranked Russian leftie, Ekaterina Makarova, who has been playing well of late. Makarova took the first set easily at 6-2, lost the second 7-5 and had to retire when the American was leading 4-2 in the decider.