The last Premier tournament on the clay before Roland Garros kicks off on Monday, with the World No.1 spot once again up for grabs in Rome. Naomi Osaka will retain it if she makes the quarter finals but can otherwise lose it if Simona Halep wins the tournament for the first time. The Romanian has been the losing finalist the past two years with Elina Svitolina taking the title on both occasions.
Check out the full WTA Rome 2019 Draw.
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Osaka is clearly not the threat on clay that she is on hard courts but has been showing improvement and it could only be a matter of time before she is as strong on the surface. She made the quarter finals in Madrid but lost a thriller to Belinda Bencic, 7-5 in the third set. Her opener will be against either Dominika Cibulkova or Aliaksandra Sasnovich, both of which she beat last week. Kiki Bertens‘ confidence will be sky high after an incredible week in Madrid, that was capped off with a title after a straight sets victory against Simona Halep. Bertens will fancy her chances should she make the quarter finals and could well move up to No.3 in the world with the current holder Angelique Kerber a far from stellar performer on the dirt. Bertens may have to watch out for the youngster Amanda Anisimova in her opener but otherwise should not be troubled early.
The second quarter has the potential for some thrillers including Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens renewing their rivalry in the quarter finals. The pair have met twice in the past year with both matches coming in the final of a tournament. The more notable of the two was the French Open final, which the Romanian won from a set down to finally pick up her first slam. Halep can avenge her Indian Wells loss to Marketa Vondrousova early on with conditions way more in the 3rd seeds favour on this occasion. Serena Williams will return after not competing since Miami, playing Rebecca Peterson for the second match in a row. Rome has been one of her better clay tournaments in the past, winning four times overall.
Two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina will look to make it three in a row when she begins her tournament later in the week. The Ukranian has not gone further than the quarter finals in Paris but clearly enjoys the conditions in Rome given her results. Svitolina did not prepare well for her defence after losing to Pauline Parmentier in Madrid but will be happy enough with her draw. She may play Victoria Azarenka in her first match, who still remains outside the top 50. At No.3 this time last year, Garbine Muguruza is now ranked outside of the 16 seeded places after a poor year. The Spaniard has not had too many great results other than her Monterrey title but it will still be foolish to write off a French Open winner capable of playing great attacking tennis on the surface. Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova will be eager to bounce back after bad losses in Madrid. Keys lost to Sorana Cirstea while the Czech was beaten by Kateryna Kozlova early on. Pliskova losing her first match three of the last four years in Rome does not bode well for her – she begins against Tamara Zidansek or Ajla Tomljanovic on this occasion.
Petra Kvitova heads the final quarter of the draw, hoping for another good run after a strong opening to the clay season. She won in Stuttgart before losing to Kiki Bertens in the Madrid quarter final, a loss that doesn’t seem so bad after the Dutchwoman’s title. The first seed she could play is Anett Kontaveit, who she already has a victory over on the surface this year. Ashleigh Barty will be full of confidence still despite her winning streak ending in Madrid. The Aussie was at 9 tour wins in a row before losing a tight one to Simona Halep and will look to get that going again in the Italian capital. She will begin against either Viktoria Kuzmova or wildcard Sara Errani. Errani, a one time finalist, is having severe serving issues right now and has resorted to serving underarm on a number of occasions recently. The Kvitova-Barty rivalry is one that has been ongoing this year, with Barty winning the last of their three meetings.
SF: Simona Halep def. Kiki Bertens
SF: Petra Kvitova def. Elina Svitolina
F: Simona Halep def. Petra Kvitova