Serena Williams makes here return to tennis this upcoming week in Rome where she has been victorious four times. But the World No. 11 is joined by nine of the Top 10 including 2-time defending Elina Svitolina.
In the last big stop before the French Open, the loaded field also features eight former No. 1s and seven players who have made the finals, though only Svitolina and Serena are the only past champions.
With a draw so stacked, among the unseeded players are Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta, Venus Williams and Danielle Collins.
The draw shapes up as follows:
Top 4 Seeds: 1 Osaka, 6 Bertens, 9 Sabalenka, 16 Goerges
Floaters: Ostapenko, Yastremska, CSN
Notes: The 21-year-old Naomi Osaka is slowly finding her footing on the clay, but Madrid champion Kiki Bertens might be the favorite after her incredible Spanish run, that is if the Dutchwoman has enough in the tank… After a 1-6 stretch, former French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko is due for a breakout… Aryna Sabalenka is also struggling failing to make even a quarterfinal anywhere since January.
Top 4 Seeds: 3 Halep, 7 Stephens, 10 Serena, 15 Wang
Floaters: Venus, Vondousova, Mertens, Konta
In her first event since a Miami loss Qiang Wang, Serena will open against a qualifier/lucky loser, then either sister Venus or Elise Mertens in the second round. She could face Sloane Stephens in the third followed by Simona Halep in the quarters and Naomi Osaka in the semifinals. A very difficult road in a very difficult section with both 2018 French finalists plus the rising Marketa Vondrousova, former Top 10s Jo Konta and Elise Mertens… 38-year-old Venus Williams is also playing her first event since Miami… Serena last played Rome in 2016 when she won the last of her four titles.
Top 4 Seeds: 4 Pliskova, 5 Svitolina, 11 Wozniacki, 13 Keys
Floaters: Azarenka, Collins, Muguruza, Kenin
Coming off a knee issue, two-time defending champ Svitolina enters on a 3-match losing streak – her last win came at Indian Wells, and with title points to defend, her ranking could drop out of the Top 8… And her section also includes Victoria Azarenka, Garbine Muguruza and Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins who opens against Caroline Wozniacki… Karolina Pliskova and former finalist Madison Keys are the favs to come to the other quarter.
Top 4 Seeds: 2 Kvitova, 8 Barty, 12 Sevastova, 14 Kontaveit
Floaters: Garcia, Bencic
The fading home favorite Sara Errani is the only player in this quarter to have reached the last day making the bottom quarter the weakest of the four… Petra Kvitova, Ash Barty, Anett Kontaveit and Belinda Bencic have all been playing good tennis this clay season… We could see a Bencic-Garcia second round, then Bencic-Barty with the Swiss possibly facing Kvitova for a semifinal spot.
PROJECTED SEEDED QUARTERFINALS
1 Osaka – 6 Bertens
3 Halep – 7 Stephens
5 Svitolina – 4 Pliskova
8 Barty – 2 Kvitova
2018 Final: Elina Svitolina d Simona Halep 6-0, 6-4
Main draw matches begin on Monday.
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