This content was published 13 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali d’Italia.
With seven of the 16 seeds having already fallen by the wayside, the way is clear for a number of previously unheralded players to make a run here in Rome
To do that however, they will have to overcome some of the significant obstacles still left in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, not least of which being Serena and Venus Williams. The sisters won their openers in straight sets on Tuesday, yet both of them took a while to hit their straps against their Swiss opponents – Venus defeating Patty Schnyder 6-2, 6-2 though she lost her serve at the start of each set, Serena overcoming Timea Bacsinszky 7-6, 6-1 despite facing three set points before breaking back to stay alive in the opener.
On Wednesday, Venus will take on No.16 Shahar Peer who has only ever taken 13 games off her on the three occasions they have met in the past. Serena faces Andrea Petkovic, a newly minted member of the Germany Fed Cup team who has just cracked the top 50 in the world but who has precious little experience of WTA Premier tournaments.
No.14 seed Nadia Petrova will also be expected to get past Alexandra Dulgheru, who ousted Dinara Safina in the 2009 winner’s third game back after a serious back injury, and world No.2 Caroline Wozniacki ought to have enough to see off the threat of Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, despite the Spaniard’s clay-court nous, there are some other intriguing ties on Wednesday. Agnieszka Radwanska will also start favourite against Lucie Safarova, though both ladies were impressive on Tuesday against Italian opposition, the Polish No.8 seed dropping only the opening game against Roberta Vinci, while the Czech Fed Cup stalwart thrashed an out-of-sorts Flavia Pennetta, to the chagrin of the home crowd.
Closer battles should be in store elsewhere during the day, not least when No.7 seed and twice Rome winner Jelena Jankovic faces No.11 seed Yanina Wickmayer. The two have never met, and while the Belgian is yet to prove herself on clay, she has the type of all-round game to trouble anyone on any surface on her day, as she proved when reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last year.
Maria Kirilenko versus Dominika Cibulkova is also too close to call – the two have similar rankings, not dissimilar styles and have yet to meet. The Russian however has the wind in her sails – not only did she reach her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final this year in Australia, but she also defeated – and soundly at that – last year’s finalist and current Roland Garros title-holder Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round.
But what to make of Elena Dementieva versus Ana Ivanovic? With the return to form of the Serb, this is the stand-out tie of the round. Having spent two years in the wilderness after her maiden Grand Slam win in 2008, Ivanovic has got her Rome campaign under way with wins over Elena Vesnina and No.9 seed Victoria Azarenka – her first win over a top 10 opponent in 18 months. No.6 seed Dementieva is not the greatest of players on clay, preferring the hard courts, and if Ivanovic can get off to a good start against the Russian on a surface which suits her punchy style of play, then another upset could be on the cards.