Top seed Serena Williams will look to continue her campaign in Rome on Friday afternoon when she meets China’s Shuai Zhang in the quarter-final round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. This is the second time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Williams leading the head-to-head series 1-0.
World No. 1 Serena Williams continues to show no lingering concern from her thigh injury last week, as she defeated fellow American Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets to reach the quarter-final round. The defending champion stormed through the opening set 6-1, and maintained her pace in the second set. Soon afterwards she had snatched the second set 6-2, in what was arguably her most emphatic clay court victory of the year to date.
World No. 43 Shuai Zhang defeated Christina McHale in three sets to set up her encounter with the top ranked American on Friday afternoon. It was the first time the two competitors met on the WTA tour and it was certainly a competitive affair. Zhang took the opening set 6-2, as she saved 4/5 break point opportunities against her and converted three separate ones in the process. McHale fought back valiantly in the second set to force an equalizer, yet couldn’t maintain that momentum in the third set, where she failed to save all three of the break points she faced against her and ultimately lost the set 6-2.
This marks the second time these two competitors cross paths on the professional circuit and the first time in over two years. Their only other meeting took place at the 2012 Sony Open, which was an encounter the American dominated throughout. While this is their first meeting on clay, Williams will be a hefty favourite to win the match and likely even the tournament.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Straight Sets