Day 3 at the WTA Italian Open begins second round play. We’re getting a good feel for how players’ games are transitioning from the hard courts to the red clay in Rome. Seeded players Alison Riske and Donna Vekic have had their campaigns cut short. Who will make it to the third round? We at LWOT will be predicting all eight matches for Wednesday–four in this article, and four in a second article.
WTA Italian Open Day 3 Predictions
Magda Linette vs Elise Mertens
Head to Head: Mertens 2-0
Mertens has already rose to the occasion on the clay courts with a run to the finals at the Prague Open. In the abbreviated American hard court swing, Mertens reached the semifinal of the Western & Southern Open and the quarterfinals of the US Open. Her Rome campaign started with a statement win over the crafty Hseih Su-Wei, dropping just four games.
Magda Linette has had lackluster results since the return of Tour level tennis. Early exits in Lexington and the Western & Southern were followed by a third round trip to the US Open. With one win in Rome under her belt, some confidence might be building. However, the Pole is yet to win up against the Dutchwoman. Deep runs in both singles and doubles may be a fatigue factor for Mertens. With Linette’s game built around stellar defense and long exchanges, the Pole may make some headway into the Mertens game. I just don’t think it will be enough to send Mertens packing.
Prediction: Mertens in 3
Aliona Bolsova vs Anna Blinkova
Head to Head: First Meeting
Bolsova earned one of the biggest win of her young career by exiting Alison Riske in the opening round. The Spaniard came from a set down to earn the victory. After failing to qualify in Palermo, Prague and the Western & Southern, Bolsova did win her first round match in New York, beating Jil Teichmann in straight sets. It shows the promise of the 22-year-old’s game.
Anna Blinkova reached the main draw in Rome with a win over Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele. Her next bout with Swiss Jil Teichmann was a straight sets win. Two nice wins in a row won’t erase her dismal hard court swing, but clay courts are a much more promising surface for the Russian.
It’s a tight contest with little separating these two young players. Blinkova is the higher ranked player, but is lacking consistent form. I give the edge to Bolsova in a three setter.
Prediction: Bolsova in 3
Elena Rybakina vs Marie Bouzkova
Head to Head: First Meeting
Rybakina hadn’t played any matches during the COVID-induced hiatus. In her first tournament back, Rybakina lost in straight sets to Alexandrova at the Cincinnati Open. What was expected to be a first round battled, the Russian was able to shake off the rust and flawlessly adjust to the red dirt. The champion form seems to have returned.
Bouzkova has a poor record on the clay courts. Therefore, her first round win over Ajla Tomljanovic was unexpected – especially with an easy, straight set win. Can she win two in a row? Probably not. Rybakina is a much stronger player and adept on this surface.
Prediction: Rybakina in 2
Barbora Strycova vs Karolina Pliskova
Head to Head: Pliskova 4-1
Barbora Strycova started strong in Rome, defeatting Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets. Now set to square off against countrywoman Karolina Pliskova, it may not be quite so easy. While she has scored a win against the defending Rome champion, an upset certainly isn’t in the cards. Strycova’s serve and volley won’t work well against Pliskova’s strong baseline game. Expect the younger Czech to set up her passing shots with precise power, or hit through the older Czech’s net rushing strategy.
Prediction: Pliskova in 2
Main Photo from Getty.