There are few easy draws when the Internazionali BNL d’Italia women’s event kicks off on Monday.
World No. 1 Serena Williams is over her illness, apparently, but she and No. 2 seed Angie Kerber face some nasty land mines right from the start. Serena is even playing doubles with sister Venus.
Rome is no stranger to Serena, who has raised the trophy three times.
Here’s a look at the four sections of the draw:
Seeds: (1) Serena Williams, (6) Simona Halep, (9) Svetlana Kuznetsova, (13) Ana Ivanovic
Floaters: Sam Stosur, Daria Gavrilova
Notes: To get to the semifinals Serena only has to overcome last week’s Madrid winner, two former French Open winners and another Slam winner. No worries! Serena is looking at Ivanovic 3rd round, then either Halep or Kuznetsova to reach the semis. Halep after a bye will start with a tough one, the winner of Gavrilova and Sabine Lisicki.
Seeds: (4) Victoria Azarenka, (7) Roberta Vinci, (10) Lucie Safarova, (16) Karolina Pliskova
Floaters: Irina-Camelia Begu, Daria Kasatkina, Francesca Schiavone, Aliza Cornet
Notes: Is Azarenka even healthy? That is the question. This section is stocked with dangerous floaters, including a former French Open champ. Azarenka after a bye will have a tester with either the hot-handed Begu or the Russian comer Margarita Gasparyan. (10) Safarova starts against (WC) Schiavone, with the winner likely facing Cornet. (16) Pliskova starts against Kasatkina, who this year has beaten Venus, Cibulkova and Bacsinszky, and lost in three to Azarenka in Fed Cup.
Seeds: (3) Gabine Muguruza, (8) Carla Suarez Navarro, (11) Timea Bacsinszky, (15) Elina Svitolina
Floaters: Annika Beck, Yanina Wickmayer, Ekaterina Makarova
Notes: This is the garbage section of the draw where anything can happen. Muguruza hasn’t reached the semifinal round of an event this year, and Suarez Navarro and Bacsinszky have cooled since showing promise some months ago. (11) Bacsinszky starts against the once-promising Wickmayer. Muguruza after a bye could start against Makarova, who beat her last year at Beijing.
Seeds: (2) Angie Kerber, (5) Petra Kvitova, (12) Venus Williams, (14) Sara Errani
Floaters: Madison Keys, Andrea Petkovic, CoCo Vandeweghe, Jelena Jankovic, Genie Bouchard
Notes: If Kerber is going to emerge from her quarter she will only have to overcome a former No. 1 and French Open runner-up, another French runner-up, a Wimbledon winner and another former No. 1. Kerber after a bye starts against either Jankovic or Bouchard, then will likely meet Errani, then Venus or Kvitova to get to the semis. Piece of cake! Kvitova after a bye starts against the Keys-Petkovic winner. Venus starts against her countrywoman Vandeweghe.
The WTA tour is an absolute car crash right now in terms of illnesses, injuries, tournament pull-outs, and no one being anywhere near No. 1 Serena Williams in the rankings, despite the American winning no titles thus far in 2016.
Pulling out of Rome this week were Belinda Bencic (back), Camila Giorgi (back), Sloane Stephens, and Caroline Wozniacki (ankle). Giorgi is rumored to be fit, but is miffed at the Italian tennis federation, so is getting back at them by skipping her home-country event. The current world No. 2 Aggie Radwanska is nowhere to be found, simply skipping one of the biggest tournaments of the year.
Were everyone healthy, you’d say this may be the week that Azarenka or Halep take a step toward Serena to challenge the No. 1 ranking, but these days on the WTA tour anything is possible. Look for a Serena vs. Azarenka and Kerber vs. Bacsinszky semifinals, or, like Madrid, for the majority of the seeds to be gone by the third round.
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