Few players capture tennis enthusiasts’ attention more than Venus and Serena Williams. But, the much-anticipated second round match between the sisters is not to be. Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Italian Open. While Serena hasn’t withdrawn from Roland Garros, it remains to be seen if her knee will allow her to compete. So, shake off the Williams withdrawal as there are many competitive matches to whet your appetite. Here’s a look a four intriguing matches, including France’s Johanna Konta versus American’s struggling Sloane Stephens.
WTA Italian Open Day 3 Predictions
Amanda Anisimova vs Kiki Bertens
Head to head: No history
American teenager Amanda Anisimova is no doubt a future World #1. Her easy power and Hingis-like ability to redirect the ball are just two of her game’s elements which will lead the way. Yet, her inexperience may prove the detriment. Against a red-hot player like Kiki Bertens, fresh off her Madrid Open title, a victory may be out of reach. The World #4 continues to turn in flawless performances ensuring deep runs at every tournament. That form will easily see her through to the third round.
Prediction: Bertens in 2
Naomi Osaka vs Dominika Cibulkova
Head to head: Osaka 3-0 Cibulkova
After a definitive 6-2 6-3 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Cibulkova should be feeling pretty good about her second round chances. Winning 71% of her first service points and converting five of seven break points shows the feisty Slovakian has arrived in Rome with purpose. She’s got the guts and the grit to take on the toughest challengers undeterred.
Since her Australian Open victory, Naomi Osaka hasn’t found a title-worthy form. An inconsistent at best serve lets her down in some of the biggest moments. If Cibulkova is geared up for this battle and bolstered after a dominant win, Osaka will face a dangerous opponent. And, if the Japanese arrives without her serve on point, Cibulkova will certainly grab the match.
Prediction: Cibulkova in 3
Yulia Putintseva vs Petra Kvitova
Head to head: Putintseva 0-1 Kvitova
Yulia Putintseva and Petra Kvitova meet in the second round. Clearly an unfortunate draw for the talented Russian, who could probably reach the quarterfinals if it weren’t for Kvitova blocking her path. Putintseva has had moderate success in 2019, reaching the quarterfinals in Sydney and the Round of 16 in Miami and Madrid. Yet, her first round losses came from unlikely and much lower-ranked players. Rather inexplicable exits, indeed.
Petra Kvitova is one of the Tour’s hottest players. The Czech has had deep runs at nearly every tournament this year, and claimed titles in Stuttgart and Sydney. While she’s missed the Italian Open the last two years, Kvitova’s return should no doubt be triumphant.
Prediction: Kvitova in 2
Johanna Konta vs Sloane Stephens
Head to head: Konta 1-0 Stephens
Sloaen Stephens has struggled through much of 2019. Her semifinal appearance in Madrid seems indicative of an improving form. Claiming wins over Petra Martic and Victoria Azarenka was just the shot in the arm Stephens needed to boost her waning confidence. But, it’s a difficult opening match for the inconsistent American. Johanna Konta has been in form. The Brit’s run to the final in Rabat clearly demonstrated her clay court skill. And her dominant win in her opener against American Alison Riske is yet another reason Konta’s confidence will be at an all-time high. Neither Konta nor Stephens has an easy win in store. But Konta’s consistency and high first serve percentage should propel her past a still struggling Stephens.
Prediction: Konta in 3
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