The ATP and WTA Rome Masters events are here! After an exciting week in Madrid, we have reached Italy’s WTA 1000 event! Who will kick off the main draw with a bang and who will fall short? I give my best guesses below!
WTA Rome Day 1 Predictions
Amanda Anisimova vs Qiang Wang
Head to Head: 2-0 Anisimova
Amanda Anisimova started off Madrid with a 6-0 first set over Maria Sakkari, but only won five more games during the rest of the match. Anisimova will have to do better on her serve, as she won less than 50% of her 1st and 2nd serve points. Qiang Wang also did not last long in Madrid. She lost 6-1 6-3 in the 1st round to Karolina Muchova. Wang also won less than 50% of her 1st and 2nd serve points during the match.
Anisimova leads the head to head 2-0, but both matchups were on hard, so they’re not very useful for picking this match. Anisimova is more comfortable on clay and has a bit more power than Wang. Wang hasn’t won consecutive matches on clay in her last 7 clay court tournaments. Expect Anisimova to win a topsy turvy, return-centric match and advance in Rome.
Prediction: Anisimova in 3
Alison Riske vs Iga Swiatek
Head to Head: 1-0 Swiatek
Alison Riske and Iga Swiatek played last week in the 1st round of Madrid! Swiatek only lost two games, dominating Riske in essentially every facet of the game. She broke Riske’s serve five out of seven times and held the American to 29% second serves won. Swiatek’s serve was strong, as she won 65% of the points on her serve.
Last week’s meeting in Madrid was the first matchup between these two players. Riske is having a miserable run, losing 5 matches in a row and not winning a match since last year’s US Open. Riske’s game is much more hard court/grass court-centric. She has lost her last 9 non-exhibition matches on clay. Swiatek won the French Open last season and is quickly turning into the one of the game’s top clay courters. This is a total mismatch and Swiatek should win this easily.
Prediction Swiatek in 2
Christina McHale vs Vera Zvonareva
Head to Head: 1-0 McHale (retirement)
Christina McHale did well to qualify for Rome, beating Leylah Fernandez and Patricia Tig to make the main draw. McHale held Tig to only 45% service points won. Tig only won 8/30 of the points on her second serve. Vera Zvonareva also qualified for Rome, taking out Misaki Doi and Kristina Mladenovic to set up the matchup with McHale. Zvonareva held both of her opponents in qualifying to 40% or less second serves won.
McHale leads the head to head 1-0, but it was on a hard court and Zvonareva retired, so there’s nothing from that match that can help us predict this one. McHale controls the baseline decently well and knows when the right opportunities to strike are, but struggles with the mental game of tennis. In a tight match, it’s hard to trust her. Vera Zvonareva is really having a renaissance on the WTA Tour. She’s playing excellent tennis and is currently 5-2 during this year’s clay court season. Zvonareva is the steadier, more trustworthy player, and I expect her to win this match.
Prediction: Zvonareva in 3
Coco Gauff vs Yulia Putintseva
Head to Head: never played
Coco Gauff had break points to go up a set-and-a-break against Karolina Pliskova, but eventually lost the match in 3 sets. Gauff was only making 49% of her first serves and winning 45% of her second serves, a combination that is not good for success at this level of competition. Yulia Putintseva suffered a shocking straight sets first round loss in Madrid to Johanna Konta. Putintseva only won 5/18 second serve points and let Konta win 76% of the points on her first serve. That’s also a recipe for disaster.
These two have never played before. Both Gauff and Putintseva are known for their fiery competitiveness and both should be very vocal during this match. The level of intensity will be very high for this one. Ultimately, on a slow red clay court, this comes down to who I trust more. Putintseva is out of form, but she can get a lot of balls back and should be able to expose the Gauff second serve and forehand. Gauff’s backhand is strong, but she won’t be able to get as much penetration from that shot on the slow surface in Rome. Ultimately, expect Putintseva to come through to the second round in a very entertaining match.
Prediction: Putintseva in 3
Main Photo from Getty.