Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Rome Wednesday: Kerber vs Canada

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Five Top-10 players will take to the clay in Rome on Wednesday as the Internazionali BNL d'Italia action heats up. We preview the action for you right here at
Wednesday, Second Round
[2] Angelique Kerber (GER #2) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN #46)
Head-to-head: Bouchard leads 2-1
Key Stat: Bouchard has never defeated a top-2 opponent.
World No. 2 Angelique Kerber's clay court season was going along swimmingly until she was rudely knocked off by Barbora Strycova in the first round of Madrid last week. Kerber, who owns an impressive 9-2 record on clay this season with a title in Stuttgart, will look to get back on the horse Wednesday against Canada's No.1, Eugenie Bouchard. Bouchard edged two-time Rome champion Jelena Jankovic in three sets on Tuesday to snap a two-match losing streak, but she'll face a more difficult test in the proven, clay-savvy Kerber, who is a former Rome semifinalist.
Pick: Kerber in three
[3] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP #4) vs. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS #29)
Head-to-head: Tied, 2-2
Key Stat: Makarova owns a 1-6 record vs. the Top-5 on clay.
Garbiñe Muguruza has reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in each of the last two seasons, but the Spaniard is still searching for momentum on the red clay in 2016. That said, the 22-year-old superstar is not worried about her form after failing to win back-to-back matches at Stuttgart and Madrid. "I'm feeling good," Muguruza told reporters in Rome over the weekend. "I think every time I go to a tournament I just try to forget everything that happened and start fresh, so I'm excited to be here." Russia's Ekaterina Makarova has also struggled to go deep in draws thus far this spring, but the former world No. 8 has 13 Top-10 wins on her resume and is always a dangerous opponent on any surface.
Pick: Muguruza in three
[6] Simona Halep (ROU #5) vs. Daria Gavrilova (AUS #32)
Head-to-head: Halep leads, 1-0
Key Stat: Halep won 12 of 13 sets en route to the Madrid title last week.
Is Simona Halep hitting her stride on the clay? It sure looks that way. The Romanian raced to the Madrid title last week and seems primed to become a major factor again this week in Rome. "Now I don't feel tired so that means I was relaxed," Halep told WTA insider Courtney Nguyen after winning the trophy in Madrid. "I was just with my mind to play tennis, not about the result or something else. Just enjoying and just showing what I have practiced." Halep benefitted from arriving in Madrid early and having several days of practice before the tournament began, but in Rome she'll have to turn around quickly to face a very tricky opponent in different conditions. Meanwhile Gavrilova, who turned so many heads when she reached the semifinals as a qualifier in Rome last year, is also finding her groove on the clay. She defeated Sabine Lisicki on Tuesday and upset Petra Kvitova last week at Madrid. Will Halep find her footing in Rome in time to keep Gavrilova from creating another Rome surprise?
Pick: Gavrilova in three
[4] Victoria Azarenka (BLR #6) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU #35)
Head-to-head: Azarenka leads 5-0
Key Stat: Azarenka owns a 26-1 record in 2016.
Surging Victoria Azarenka finally hit a speed bump in 2016 when she was forced to pull out of Madrid ahead of the third round with a back injury. Though the injury appears to be minor, it's worrisome to see Azarenka, who has been riddled with injuries over the last two seasons, endure more physical hardship. Will the WTA's hottest player return fit as a fiddle in Rome? We'll find out on Wednesday as she faces Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu for the sixth time. Azarenka has won the first five meetings with Begu, but more important than another win is Azarenka's health. With Roland Garros less than two weeks away Azarenka will have to tread carefully if she is to head to Paris at full strength.
Pick: Azarenka in two
[5] Petra Kvitova (CZE# 9) vs. Madison Keys (USA #24)
Head-to-head: Kvitova leads, 2-1
Key Stat: Kvitova is a two-time quarterfinalist at Rome.
Petra Kvitova and Madison Keys will meet on a clay-court for the first time on Wednesday, and while it is the Czech that holds the 2-1 lifetime edge over Keys, it's difficult to tell how things will play out on the slow-playing red clay of the Foro Italico. Kvitova has struggled to find her form all season, but she has had her moments on the clay this spring, notching her first Top-10 win of the season over Garbine Muguruza en route to a semifinal in Stuttgart. Keys has also been up and down in a season that has seen her struggle with a freak injury in January and encounter instability within her support staff of late. She worked with coach Mats Wilander for a brief spell in March before hiring Tommy Hogstedt to guide her just two weeks ago.
Pick: Kvitova in three
Around the Grounds: 19-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina will look to reach the third round on her Rome debut when she faces qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino on Court 4. In a battle of former Grand Slam champions, Svetlana Kuznetsova will face Sam Stosur on Court 1. 12th-seeded Venus Williams will face surging Hungarian Timea Babos in the last match of the day on Court Pietrangeli. Italy's Roberta Vinci will face Johanna Konta in the last match of the day session on Court Centrale.