World No. 7 Maria Sharapova is quickly regaining her top form, and has arrive din Rome to begin her campaign for a third title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Her first obstacle is Monica Puig, whom she has never faced on the WTA tour.
Sharapova is coming off a fantastic week in Madrid, where she defeated a gauntlet of opponents including Samantha Stosur, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep in the final. Prior to that she had retained the title in Stuttgart, defeating Radwanksa, Errani and Ivanovic in the process. She now holds an impeccable record on clay, as she has not lost to a player not named Serena Williams on this surface since 2011.
The Russian superstar will look to continue her fine form this week, and it is tough to imagine any opponent derailing her during her campaign. Williams is injured and remains uncertain about her participation, while the remainder of the top challenges she has already fended off in the last few weeks. Her first obstacle this week is Monica Puig.
World No. 60 Monica Puig was absent from the tour on February, but returned in March to lose in the opening round at Indian Wells and the second round in Miami. She would then reach the quarter-final in Monterrey, the first round in Portugal and would fail to qualify for Madrid. Most recently, she arrived at the second round in Rome, following a odd match-up against Daniella Hantuchova, where she won 6-0, 4-6, 6-0.
This marks the first time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, and is a contest that will lean heavily towards the two-time champion. Sharapova is on a fantastic streak and will be looking to maintain that during her stay in Rome.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Straight Sets