The Hologic WTA Tour heads to the Eternal City next week for the fifth WTA 1000 event of the season at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. World No.1 and defending champion Iga Swiatek returns to action and takes her 23-match win streak into Rome, leading another packed field that includes 19 of the tour's Top 20.
With Roland Garros just two weeks away, who will add their name to the list of favorites for Paris?
Here's what you need to know about Rome:
When does the tournament start?
The Internazionali BNL d'Italia is the final WTA 1000 before the French Open, which begins on May 22. The tournament, long known as the "Italian Open," is played on outdoor red clay at the Foro Italico and features a 56-player singles draw and 28-team doubles draw. The Dunlop Fort Clay Court ball will be used.
Main draw play begins on Monday, May 9. Play begins at 11:00 a.m., with night sessions kicking off at 7:00 p.m.
When are the finals?
Both singles and doubles finals will be played on Sunday, May 15. The singles final is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
Who are the Top 16 seeds?
Nineteen of the Top 20 are scheduled to play Rome. The only top player absent is reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova, who withdrew due to her ongoing elbow injury. The Czech has not played since February in Doha.
1. Iga Swiatek
2. Paula Badosa
3. Aryna Sabalenka
4. Maria Sakkari
5. Anett Kontaveit
6. Karolina Pliskova
7. Danielle Collins
8. Garbiñe Muguruza
9. Ons Jabeur
10. Emma Raducanu
11. Jelena Ostapenko
12. Belinda Bencic
13. Jessica Pegula
14. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
15. Coco Gauff
16. Victoria Azarenka
Who are the defending champions?
World No.1 Iga Swiatek captured her second clay-court title last year, defeating Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 in the final.
In doubles, Sharon Fichman and Giuliana Olmos surprised the field to win their biggest title, defeating Kristina Mladenovic and Marketa Vondrousova 4-6, 7-5, 10-5 in the final.
What does the draw look like?
Main draw in Rome, where Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa are the top seeds.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 6, 2022
1R: Emma Raducanu vs. Bianca Andreescu.
Winner will face either Naomi Osaka or Sara Sorribes Tormo in 2R. #IBI22 pic.twitter.com/Z3WFmgtn3J
For a full analysis of the draw, click here.
Update: Naomi Osaka and Clara Tauson withdrew after the draw was made.
This year's tournament will see the return of three former champions in Swiatek (2021), Halep (2020) and Pliskova (2019). Wildcards have been granted to the Italian trio of Jasmine Paoliini, Lucia Bronzetti and Elisabetta Cocciaretto.
What is the prize money and ranking points on offer?
Rome offers a total prize money purse of € 2,527,250.
First Round: € 9,456/ 1 point
Second Round: € 13,176/ 60 points
Third Round: € 23,170/ 105 points
Quarterfinal: € 46,322/ 190 points
Semifinal: € 100,806/ 350 points
Final: € 195,813/ 585 points
Champion: € 332,260/ 900 points
Swiatek is rested and ready to defend: The World No.1 took a well-deserved two-week break from competition. After winning her fourth consecutive title at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix to extend her winning streak to 23, Swiatek withdrew from the Mutua Madrid Open to heal a niggling shoulder. She spent the last week training on the clay at the Rafael Nadal Academy in Mallorca and is already in Rome practicing. Should see win her opening match, Swiatek will have the longest winning streak since Serena Williams posted 27 in 2015.
World No.1 Iga Swiatek wins Stuttgart to capture her 4th straight title and 7th career title. The run extends her winning streak to 23 matches, tying Naomi Osaka’s streak from 2020-21.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 24, 2022
The 20yo joins this list of longest win streaks since 2000: pic.twitter.com/HQl1Vcw37B
Badosa, Sabalenka, Sakkari aim to get back on track: No.2 Badosa, No.4 Sabalenka and No.5 Sakkari took early exits in Madrid. The loss was less of a concern for Badosa, who played well in Stuttgart the previous week. She was juggling the Spanish spotlight for the first time in her home tournament and was dealt a tough second-round draw against Halep. Badosa skipped Rome last year, which means she'll have a great opportunity to add points this week.
Sakkari was a semifinalist at Roland Garros last year - and was a point away from her first major final. The Greek star loves clay. But since her run to the BNP Paribas Open final in March, Sakkari has won only one match in her past three tournaments. A deep run in Rome will go a long way for her confidence going into Paris.
Halep looking dangerous again: The former No.1 finally crossed Rome off her list in 2020. But after an injury-plagued 2021 campaign, Halep has been playing Top 10 tennis in 2022 and looks convincing as a short-list favorite for Paris after her strong run to the Madrid quarterfinals last week. Halep looks inspired under new coach Patrick Mouratoglou and will be a threat for a second Rome title this week.
Raducanu gaining ground: The reigning US Open champion has looked better and better with each clay match. Her three-set loss to Anhelina Kalinina in the Round of 16 in Madrid was her finest performance since the US Open. Notably, the 19-year-old is now knocking on the door of her Top 10 debut. A deep run in Rome should get her over the threshold.