The WTA Tour makes an immediate switch from Madrid to Rome this week for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the historic Foro Italico.
We signed off from Madrid with an easy winner on Sunday, as Simona Halep took the opening set over Maris Sharapova 6-1 to land the +1.5 sets bet before the Russian stormed back to land the title.
Sharapova is in action again this week, as are the rest of the world’s top stars, with the exception of the injured Vika Azarenka and perhaps Serena Williams, who may or may not play this week.
Conditions here on the red dirt were described by the players as quite quick last year, with the balls nipping through the court, although I can’t say that I recall it being fast here.
Much will depend on the weather and it’s set to be a bit changeable this week, with some rain around, so we’ll see how fast conditions are after today.
In action on Monday are Ana Ivanovic, Alizé Cornet, Flavia Pennetta, Genie Bouchard and Sabine Lisicki, but not Caroline Wozniacki, who pulled out of the tournament, which meant a change in the draw.
Of the 16 matches on the card for today there aren’t many that would have me racing down to the bookies, with only one appealing on Monday.
Sabine Lisicki 2.33 vs Samantha Stosur 1.57 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 14.35
This one has the potential to be the match of the day, with these two major finalists going head-to-head for the seventh time.
Stosur has the edge by 4-2 in the career series, while Lisicki has won the last two, but they have never met on clay and the Aussie has the advantage for me on this surface.
Her kick serve really can be a very useful weapon on clay and if you can’t deal with it can take you out of the match very quickly, as Domi Cibulkova found out again last week in Madrid.
Sam was beaten by eventual champion Sharapova there, but she showed some promising form on the clay as we head towards Paris and she should enjoy conditions this week.
Stosur can be a big threat on the clay, as she has shown before at the French Open and here, where she has an 8-3 record, been a finalist, and only lost here to Azarenka, Sharapova and Venus Williams.
Lisicki can’t compare with that sort of record on the dirt, but she did show a little better form in Madrid than she has been all season, with a decent performance in defeat against Halep, but she’s never been past the third round of a Premier Mandatory event on clay and this isn’t her time of year.
The minus 1.5 games on Stosur at 1.87 looks like the call to me, with Lisicki likely to be the first to run out of patience in the rallies and over press.
The grass court swing is more Lisicki’s cup of tea and I doubt she’ll be too downcast if she was beaten by Stosur today.
As far as potential upsets go today, I could see Varvara Lepchenko taking down Shuai Peng as underdog and perhaps Bojana Jovanovski if she has a good day against Sloane Stephens, but I’m not sure I’d oppose any of the other favourites with much confidence.
Back Stosur –1.5 games to beat Lisicki at 1.87