Serena On A Roll Entering Rome
Published May 13, 2012 11:46
ROME, Italy - After the first blue clay tournament in history in Madrid, the stars of the WTA return to the familiar red dirt at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.
The field features nine of the world's Top 10, and though she is ranked sixth and seeded ninth, Serena Williams is the emphatic favorite at the Foro Italico in the eyes of most. Fresh off her 41st career title in Madrid, she has won 13 straight matches, is 22-2 on the year and is 13-0 on clay. Interestingly enough, while she has recently collected trophies on green clay and blue clay, she has not won on red clay since the 2002 French Open. That happens to be the year she became just the third player in the Open Era to capture Rome and Roland Garros in the same season, a statistic she would surely love to repeat.
A couple of players Williams has asserted dominance over recently are the most likely to stand in her way of her sixth career clay court title. World No.1 and No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka is 34-3 on the year with four titles, but has lost five straight meetings with Williams, including Sunday's Madrid final in which she won just four games. No.2 seed and defending champion Maria Sharapova also netted just four games against Williams in Madrid, the seventh consecutive loss for the Russian in their series.
Other contenders include No.3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska and No.5 seed Sam Stosur. Radwanska has two titles this year and the only player she has been beaten by is Azarenka - albeit six times. Stosur was runner-up here last year and has played Williams tough over the years, highlighted by three wins.
A couple of others in the draw who have a history of playing well here are 16th-seeded Jelena Jankovic, Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Jankovic took the title in 2007 and 2008 and was runner-up in 2010. Williams was victorious in 1999 and was runner-up in 1998. Kuznetsova was runner-up in 2007 and 2009, but has a tough opener against 13th-seeded Ana Ivanovic.
The Top 2 seeded duos in doubles are Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond and Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, respectively. However, the team riding the biggest wave of confidence may be No.3 seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. The Italians tied Huber and Raymond for most titles this season with their fourth in Madrid on Saturday.