We are now down to the final 16 competitors for the WTA Rome title, can anyone stop the rampaging Iga Swiatek from winning her third Italian Open in a row? As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. Who do you think will make the quarterfinals?
WTA Rome Day 7 Predictions
Veronika Kudermetova vs Marie Bouzkova
Head-to-head: Kudermetova 2-2 Bouzkova
After a disappointing showing in the Sunshine Swing and a sputtering start to clay in Charleston and Stuttgart, Kudermetova finally got herself going in Madrid. The Russian went three sets in each of her wins, including upsets over Jessica Pegula and Daria Kasatkina before being double breadsticked by Iga Swiatek. Bizarrely enough, Kudermetova faced her first two Madrid opponents again in Rome in the same order, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz and Anastasia Potapova in the second and third round respectively at both events. Bouzkova struggled throughout the hard courts and did not really recapture her form on clay either until this week. The Czech eliminated Caty McNally in her opener in straight sets before upsetting McNally’s former doubles partner Coco Gauff 4-6 6-2 6-2. Bouzkova had to retire from her most recent meeting with Kudermetova at last year’s Indian Wells, previously beating her in the 2020 Brisbane qualifying and 2015 ITF Prague qualifying while the Russian dominated their 2019 Guadalajara final 6-2 6-0. I expect a close contest with Bouzkova winning out, energized after her Gauff win.
Prediction: Bouzkova in 3
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Daria Kasatkina vs Jelena Ostapenko
Head-to-head: Ostapenko 4-2 Kasatkina
Kasatkina comes into Rome with the burden of defending semifinal points. The 26-year-old has mixed early-round losses with runs to the Adelaide 2 final and Charleston semifinals. Kasatkina breezed through her opener against 19-year-old No. 483 Lisa Pigato 6-1 6-2 but was severely challenged by Julia Grabher, winning in the third-set tiebreak after three hours and 19 minutes. Ostapenko’s hit-or-miss nature has been once again present throughout her season, mostly losing her second matches in tournaments. The Latvian has had her moments though, beating Coco Gauff to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals and now taking out Barbora Krejcikova 7-6 6-0 in Rome. Their first match (attended by me) dates all the way back to the 2015 ITF Trnava, with Ostapenko winning routinely in what has been their only red clay match to date. Ostapenko has won all three of their previous grass meetings as well while Kasatkina notched straightforward wins over the Latvian in the 2017 Charleston final and then the US Open later that year. This match could go either way but with Kasatkina coming off a marathon, I will go with Ostapenko here.
Prediction: Ostapenko in 2
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Paula Badosa vs Karolina Muchova
Head-to-head: Muchova 1-0 Badosa
After struggling through the Middle Eastern and Sunshine swings on hard, Badosa has started to find her footing on clay. The Spaniard reached quarterfinals in Charleston and Stuttgart, beat Coco Gauff in Madrid but lost in the fourth round. In Rome, Badosa was pushed all the way to a third-set tiebreak by Anna-Lena Friedsam before taking out Ons Jabeur 6-1 6-4. Marta Kostyuk was her most recent opponent, beaten 6-4 6-2. Muchova had her best result on hard this year, going to the Indian Wells quarterfinals. The Czech started her Rome campaign with a straight-set win over Kamilla Rakhimova before turning into the Italian assassin. Muchova first outlasted Martina Trevisan 7-5 in the third before eliminating Camila Giorgi in the third round. Their only previous meeting at Wimbledon two years ago was won by Muchova, a tight two-setter in the fourth round. Muchova’s shotmaking could cause Badosa trouble but I expect the Spaniard to outlast her opponent.
Prediction: Badosa in 3
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Iga Swiatek vs Donna Vekic
Head-to-head: Swiatek 3-0 Vekic
Vekic has had some of her best runs this season, reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals and beating Caroline Garcia in the Monterrey final. Since that title, Vekic was 2-4 coming into Rome. The Croat has completed two comebacks from a set down, eliminating Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Liudmila Samsonova. World No. 1 Iga Swiatek is 27-5 on the year, winning Doha and Stuttgart while reaching the finals of Dubai and Madrid. The Pole has won at least three matches at each tournament she has entered and in Rome, I expect her to continue that trend. Swiatek has won back-to-back titles here and looks to make it three, dropping just one set in Rome in her last three appearances. The 21-year-old has been ruthless so far, double bageling Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 2021 Roland Garros finalist playing her way back into form after a long injury layoff. Lesia Tsurenko took a 2-0 lead against Swiatek but would not win another game, virtually double bageled. Swiatek won her first two matches against Vekic while she was just 18 years old, notching straight-set wins at the Australian Open and Doha. Their most recent meeting was closer, Vekic taking a set in the San Diego final. Vekic has shown incredible grit to earn two tough wins on her worst surface but expect more Swiatek rampaging here.
Prediction: Swiatek in 2
Main Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports