As we near the end of the newly-extended WTA Rome tournament, we are down to the final eight which delivers a star-studded match-up between Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. Who do you think will win?
WTA Rome Quarterfinals
Iga Swiatek vs Elena Rybakina
Head-to-head: Rybakina 2-1 Swiatek
The fourth meeting between Rybakina and Swiatek, two of the three best players this season, and the third in 2023. Swiatek won their first meeting in Ostrava 2021 but Rybakina is yet to drop a set to the Pole this season. The Kazakh beat the World No. 1 in the Australian Open fourth round 6-4 6-4 before going on to reach the final and had an even easier time in Indian Wells semifinals, dropping just four games. This is slow clay though, this is Rome, we are on Swiatek’s turf this time. Swiatek is looking to win her third straight title in Rome where she has looked unstoppable at times. The Pole has now won 24 sets of tennis in a row at the Italian Open and she got off to a rocket start again this year, double-bagelling Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and virtually double-bagelling Lesia Tsurenko after dropping the first two games. Her next match would be a bigger challenge though, having to battle to keep the match in two sets in a 6-3 6-4 win over Donna Vekic, not playing her best.
Rybakina got her clay season off to a tough start, having to retire for her second-round match in Stuttgart and losing her Madrid opener to Anna Kalinskaya. She has had better luck in Rome, making her first quarterfinal in the Italian capital after two third-round showings previously. Rybakina started by ousting Jasmine Paolini 7-6 6-1, then got a retirement from Kalinskaya after seven games with the Russian injuring herself as she went into the splits chasing down a drop shot. I predicted her to lose to Marketa Vondrousova in her most recent match but Rybakina came through with a 6-3 6-3 win over the former French Open finalist. Though Rybakina leads the head-to-head, I expect Swiatek to tie it up in their first clay meeting.
Prediction: Swiatek in 2
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Jelena Ostapenko vs Paula Badosa
Head-to-head: Badosa 2-1 Ostapenko
With a 6-4 4-6 6-0 win over Daria Kasatkina, Ostapenko has reached her third quarterfinal in Rome, equalling her number of first-round exits from the tournament. The Latvian started the week with a 6-2 in the third win over Sorana Cirstea before taking out Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets. Badosa survived a scare from Anna-Lena Friedsam in her opener, pushed to a third-set tiebreak by the German. The Spaniard bounced back well though, dispatching Ons Jabeur 6-1 6-4 and defeating Marta Kostyuk in straight sets before overcoming Karolina Muchova 6-2 in the third. Badosa leads the head-to-head 2-1, winning their only clay match in the third round of the 2020 French Open to start. Ostapenko got her revenge with a 6-2 6-2 win four months later in St. Petersburg with the Spaniard winning their most recent match in Sydney last year. All of their previous meetings have been in straight sets and I believe today the trend will shift and we will be treated to a brilliant battle by two hungry competitors with Badosa edging the win.
Prediction: Badosa in 3
Main Photo Credit: Taya Gray/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK