Alycia Parks vs Anett Kontaveit
Time: 7:00 PM IST
Anett Kontaveit’s early career in Rome was marked by great success. As a qualifier in 2017, the Estonian defeated Angelique Kerber en route to the quarterfinal. The following year, she made it to the semifinals after knocking out former semifinalist Caroline Wozniacki, former champion Venus Williams, and former finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova. However, in her last three visits, Kontaveit has failed to progress past the second round, earning only two wins. Her ranking has also fallen outside the top 80 due to a serious lower back injury that kept her out of several tournaments including Dubai, Doha, Indian Wells, and Miami.
Alycia Parks, on the other hand, has had a disappointing performance in her recent tournaments. After winning her first WTA title in Lyon in February, the American only won two matches in seven tournaments from Linz to Stuttgart. Despite a better week in Madrid, where she narrowly defeated Victoria Azarenka and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova for a third-round spot, Parks has struggled on clay courts, with only a couple of WTA main draw wins until Madrid. Her success has mostly come on indoor hard-courts, where she has achieved a quarterfinal in Ostrava and 125K titles in Andorra and Angers. In the 2021 season, her WTA 250 level wins came in Charleston and Lausanne.
Prediction: Back Kontaveit to win
Jasmine Paolini vs Xinyu Wang
Time: 5:30 PM IST
Jasmine Paolini has participated in the Rome tournament four times, but unfortunately, she has not been able to make a significant impact. In 2019 and 2022, two of her three main draw appearances concluded with straight-set losses in the first round. In 2020, she managed to make it to the second round, but was stopped by eventual winner Simona Halep in straight sets.
This year, there are indications that the 27-year-old Italian tennis player is not performing as well as she did in the last two seasons. In 2021, she won the championship in Portoroz and was a finalist in Cluj-Napoca in 2022. However, Paolini has only managed to arrange a 3-7 win-loss record in WTA main draw matches this year and is currently on a five-match losing streak at this level.
Meanwhile, Wang Xinyu is preparing for her debut at the Italian Open. However, the Chinese youngster has not had a great start to the clay-court season, having lost first-round matches to Jule Niemeier (6-4, 6-2) at the Madrid Open and Nuria Parrizas-Diaz (6-0, 7-6) at the 125K Reus in the last two weeks. Although she has not won a match since Miami, Wang had a good start to the season with a semifinal in Hua Hin, a quarterfinal in Hobart, and a third-round appearance in Indian Wells. The 21-year-old, who won a W100 title on La Bisbal’s red dirt last year, has yet to win a match in the first round of WTA clay-court tournaments, with a 0-5 record.
Prediction: Back Paolini to win