ROME, Italy - Rising teenagers Kaja Juvan and Leylah Fernandez will make their Internazionali BNL d'Italia debuts in this year's qualifying draw, released today.
Slovenian 19-year-old Juvan made her Grand Slam debut in memorable fashion at Roland Garros last year as a last-minute lucky loser on Court Suzanne-Lenglen and has continued to rise ever since, stretching Serena Williams to three sets at Wimbledon a month later and scoring wins over Venus Williams and Marketa Vondrousova this year. The World No.113, whose claycourt nous was evident in her junior days when she captured the 2018 Youth Olympic Games gold medal in Buenos Aires, faces No.3 seed Lauren Davis in the first qualifying round this weekend.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Fernandez has been one of the fastest climbers on tour even in a pandemic-struck 2020. The Canadian has shot from her year-end 2019 ranking of World No.209 to a current career high of World No.104 thanks in part to a run to the Acapulco final in February, and continued to impress on tennis's resumption on the US hard courts. Junior champion at Roland Garros last year, Fernandez is the No.15 seed in the Rome draw - which marks not only her tournament debut but her first ever outing on red clay at WTA level - and faces an intriguing opener against the crafty Swiss No.3 Stefanie Voegele, who was the Newport Beach 125K runner-up in January.
Two former Top 10 players seeking to return to former glories also stud the qualifying draw. Sara Errani, a finalist in Rome in 2014, impressed on reaching the Palermo quarterfinals in the week of the tour resumption, and will again hope to be buoyed by home support as she faces No.7 seed Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round. Meanwhile, former World No.10 Daria Kasatkina, who has reached the last 16 of the main draw on three occasions, is the No.6 seed here and takes on Arina Rodionova in her opener.
Heading the draw are No.1 seed Bernarda Pera, who took Serena Williams to three sets a month ago in Lexington, and No.2 seed Anna Blinkova, fresh off reaching the US Open doubles semifinals this week. Both players have first-round byes, with Pera slated to face either No.10 seed Misaki Doi or local favorite Martina Trevisan in the final qualifying round, and Blinkova projected for an intriguing clash against either Fernandez or Voegele.
Click here to view the full 2020 Rome qualifying draw.