The clay-court WTA 1000 events continue on the Hologic WTA Tour with next week's Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. The 96-player main draw was released on Sunday, with 18 of the world's Top 20 players vying for the title.
Main-draw action in the Italian capital will kick off on Tuesday and span 12 days for the first time. The singles and doubles finals will take place on Saturday, May 20.
Here's a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of some potential main-draw highlights:
Two-time defending champion and World No.1 Iga Swiatek sits at the top of the draw. Swiatek took the Rome title for the first time in 2021, when she beat Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 in the final. Swiatek collected her second straight title last year by beating Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2.
Main draw singles @InteBNLdItalia, which features a 96-player field this year, played across 12 days.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 7, 2023
Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Jessica Pegula, and Ons Jabeur are the Top 4 seeds.
Main draw begins on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/eobJ4Pw7GR
After her bye (all 32 seeded players receive first-round byes), Swiatek is guaranteed to meet a former Roland Garros finalist in the second round: either 2014 Rome finalist Sara Errani or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who is on the comeback trail after missing much of last year with an injury.
Swiatek could meet reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals if seedings hold. Before that, No.7 seed Rybakina could potentially face No.9 seed Maria Sakkari in the Round of 16 in a battle between Top 10 players.
Among the other players in this quarter are 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez and two athletes coming back from maternity leave, Barbora Strycova and Elina Svitolina. Svitolina won back-to-back Rome titles in 2017 and 2018.
Last year's runner-up Ons Jabeur tops the second quarter as the No.4 seed, aiming to play her first clay-court WTA 1000 event of the season. Jabeur withdrew from last week's Mutua Madrid Open, where she was the defending champion with a calf injury.
If Jabeur comes back in Madrid, she could meet an extremely dangerous floater in her second-round match after her bye in former World No.2 Paula Badosa. Unseeded Badosa will take on a qualifier in the opening round for the chance to play Jabeur.
No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina resides at the bottom of this quarter and will play an Italian wild card in the second round, either Diletta Cherubini or Lisa Pigato. No.10 seed Barbora Krejcikova is a potential Round of 16 opponent for Kasatkina.
There could be a quarterfinal matchup between the top two Americans (and doubles partners) in this quarter, if No.3 seed Jessica Pegula and No.6 seed Coco Gauff each hold their seeds and reach the elite eight.
Before that, Gauff could meet No.11 seed and Madrid semifinalist Veronika Kudermetova in the Round of 16. Gauff and Kudermetova have played three-setters twice this year, with Kudermetova winning on the hard courts of Doha, and Gauff avenging that loss on Stuttgart clay.
Pegula's possible Round of 16 opponent might be No.13 seed Karolina Pliskova, who has posted some of the best results of her career at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Former World No.1 Pliskova won the 2019 Rome title and finished as runner-up in both 2020 and 2021.
No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka brings momentum into the bottom quarter after winning her second Madrid title in the last three years on Saturday. Sabalenka toppled Swiatek on clay for the first time in four attempts to win the WTA 1000 title in Spain.
Reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka might face a fellow major winner in the second round after her bye, if 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin can get past Cristina Bucsa in the first round.
Another former Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka, might await Sabalenka in the Round of 16 if seedings hold. The 2016 Rome finalist and No.19 seed Madison Keys also resides in this section.
No.5 seed Caroline Garcia sits at the other end of this quarter, and she might face Madrid quarterfinalist Petra Martic in the third round and No.12 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the Round of 16.