WTA Tour: Italian Open Selected Quarter Finals Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

We take a look at two of the four quarter-finals taking place at the WTA Tour's Italian Open. 

Anett Kontaveit 11/10 | Caroline Wozniacki 13/20
Caroline Wozniacki needed every bit of her accumulated grit to overcome Sevatsova is a gruelling Round of 16 match last night. Wozniacki has really struggled to kick on in the wake of her historic maiden Grand Slam triumph in Melbourne. Perhaps it was to be expected. But in the wake of that event a semi-final in Qatar has been the best that she has had to offer. Luckily for her Halep hasn’t exactly dominated the clay as some have expected, keeping her in striking distance of the World Number One Ranking. A quarterfinal run in Istanbul hinted at a clay-court renaissance, but her Estonian opponent has been extremely impressive on the European clay and will make life extremely difficult for the Dane.

Kontaveit beat Venus Williams for the second time in two weeks to set up this quarterfinal clash. She also beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets and has been improving dramatically with the introduction of the clay-court season. She had a decent run in Madrid, narrowly losing a three-set thriller against a resurgent Petra Kvitova. But it was her semi-final run in Stuttgart that really caught the eye, with victories over Kerber and Mladenovic highlighting her ability. She began the year with a creditable Round of 16 run in Melbourne, but it’s really taken the switch to clay-courts for her true potential to be shown.

The head-to-head between the two player’s stands at one a piece, with Wozniacki winning the most recent encounter at Wimbledon last year. Wozniacki just hasn’t been consistent enough to back, and Kontaveit has shown enough form in recent weeks to suggest an upset may be on the cards here, especially at a better price. 

Simona Halep 7/20 | Caroline Garcia 37/20
Simona Halep’s tenuous grip on the World Number One ranking makes virtually every match of hers a do or die scenario. The Romanian hasn’t dominated the clay court season in the way that many would have envisaged. Quarterfinal defeats in Stuttgart and Madrid have somewhat soured her aspirations of a Roland Garros coronation. But last year’s beaten finalist is a proven competitor with multiple titles to her name. That Aussie Open defeat to Caroline Woznaicki would have destroyed the confidence of anyone, let alone a woman still haunted by last year’s French Open histrionics. So while the Grand Slam cabinet remains empty she will be intent on holding on to that one accolade she does possess: the World Number One Ranking.

Caroline Garcia’s season has started to mirror the template of last, which started in mediocrity and built up to a steady crescendo. Consecutive quarterfinal appearances in the desert represented her best form prior to the clay. But now it seems that the consummate baseliner has found her stride on clay, with back-to-back semi-finals excellent preparation for this event. She beat Elina Svitolina and Maria Sharapova en route to the Stuttgart semis. She also beat Julia Georges in that run to the Madrid semi-finals. So there certainly have been some encouraging signs for the woman that blitzed the tour in a glorious run to the WTA World Tour Finals last year.

Halep leads the head-to-head between the two 3-1, with a 2-1 score-line just last year. The two have never met on clay, which should certainly favour Halep this week. While the Romanian has been unpredictable of late, she always seems to find the extra reserves when that Number One ranking is at stake, and I suspect that she should do the same here. 

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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