ROME, Italy - Featuring six of the world's Top 10 players, the 2020 Internazionali BNL d'Italia finds several big names returning to action, including No.1 seed Simona Halep and No.4 seed Elina Svitolina - as well as a host of intriguing rematches right off the bat.
Wimbledon champion Halep and two-time Rome champion Svitolina both sat out the past month's US hardcourt swing, as did No.5 seed Kiki Bertens, No.6 seed Belinda Bencic and former Roland Garros winners Jelena Ostapenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Of that list only Halep, who won the Prague title a month ago, and Kuznetsova, who lost her opener in Istanbul this week, have officially competed since the Tour shutdown in March.
All are present and correct in the Italian capital, though, with Svitolina and Bertens projected to meet in the third quarterfinal and Kuznetsova lurking as an unseeded floater in their section. Bertens must also navigate past a third-round in which she could face either Roland Garros finalist and No.12 seed Marketa Vondrousova or the rising Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.
World No.2 Halep, meanwhile, will face either the tricky wiles of Anastasija Sevastova or local favorite Jasmine Paolini in the second round to kick off her campaign, before meeting whoever emerges from a particularly explosive section of the draw: No.16 seed Donna Vekic will clash with 19-year-old Amanda Anisimova in the first round, and the winner of that will need to survive a blitz of power from either Dayana Yastremska or Camila Giorgi to book a date with Halep.
Among the raft of must-see first-round clashes is a popcorn fourth encounter between No.9 seed Garbiñe Muguruza and former World No.3 Sloane Stephens. The latter holds a 2-1 lead in their rivalry to date, having won their most recent meeting in the fourth round of Roland Garros 2019.
Elsewhere, there are plethora of rematches from this season alone. No.10 seed Elena Rybakina takes on Ekaterina Alexandrova for the third time, having lost to the Russian in both the Shenzhen final and the first round of Cincinnati; Australian Open quarterfinalist Ons Jabeur will seek to complete some unfinished business against Coco Gauff, to whom she lost a 6-4, 4-2 lead in the Lexington quarterfinals last month, with the winner going straight up against either Muguruza or Stephens; and Victoria Azarenka, fresh from victory or defeat in the US Open final, faces 1999 Rome champion Venus Williams, who beat her in the Lexington first round, in a second opener in as many months.
The third former winner at the Foro Italico in this year's draw is defending champion Karolina Pliskova, straight off a disappointing second-round exit at the US Open to Caroline Garcia. Matters haven't got much easier for the No.2 seed, who will face either compatriot Barbora Strycova or her Cincinnati conqueror two weeks ago, Veronika Kudermetova, in the second round.
Elsewhere, No.3 seed Sofia Kenin will open against the winner of Williams and Azarenka, with No.15 seed Angelique Kerber projected to await in the third round and a quarterfinal against whoever survives the stacked section featuring Muguruza, Stephens, Gauff, Jabeur and No.7 seed Johanna Konta, last year's runner-up, looming. Meanwhile, the fourth quarter finds Pliskova drawn against No.6 seed Bencic in the last eight, if the Swiss player successfully navigates a portion of the draw that includes Ostapenko, No.11 seed Elise Mertens - fresh off the US Open quarterfinals - and the wiles of the returning Hsieh Su-Wei.
Click here to view the full 2020 Internazionali BNL d'Italia main draw.