The Italian Open kicks off on Tuesday with the WTA main draw. Iga Swiatek is going for a hat-trick of titles in Rome and the picturesque event is always such a great watch.
The last two main events on the WTA Tour has seen the top two seeds, Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, meet in the final. Each has won one and this tournament is set up as a decider between them ahead of the big one at Roland-Garros.
The other players will have to step up their games. Swiatek has already shown a propensity to enjoy the tournament here in Rome. The Pole won the tournament last season without losing a set.
There are other players in the field with positive histories in Rome, and with decent form on the dirt, but when we dig into the statistics we are finding something of a chasm between the two top players at the moment and the rest of the field.
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WTA Rome Betting Tips
Aryna Sabalenka 1pt EW 5/1 @ Bet365
Event In Focus: WTA Rome
The Italian Open is often seen as the key tournament in preparation for Roland-Garros. It is the last 1000 point WTA event before the Grand Slam and the court conditions are relatively similar. We also now have a little more information about how the players are performing on the clay in 2023 and most players should be fully adjusted on the surface by now.
Aryna Sabalenka has made her way up into the top two of the current WTA players in terms of clay ELO ranking. Her run to the Madrid title will no doubt have helped that ranking.
Paula Badosa is an interesting one here in that she has quite a low WTA ranking at the moment, but a very high ELO ranking. The bookmakers haven’t missed her completely, but that ranking has the disadvantage of giving the Spaniard quite tough draws as she is often unseeded at the moment.
Liudmila Samsonova, Beatriz Haddad Maia, and, surprisingly, Barbora Krejcikova have quite low clay court specific rankings in comparison to their WTA ranking.
2023 WTA Tour Form
Unsurprisingly we are seeing the top two in the rankings actually accelerating further away from the field in terms of their win percentage and games won figures. Both players are now well above 120 in games won, which means that they are dominating most matches that they play.
Down at the bottom of the chart come the next two most dominant figures, Karolina Muchova and Marketa Vondrousova. Due to injuries their tankings are quite low. This means that they have had to enter qualifying in most weeks. Qualifying results are included in the sample, and those players are proving their they are usually too good for qualifying, but we should be wary of those numbers projecting into the main draw. Both Muchova and Vondrousova are capable, but they are breaking down in the early rounds of main draws in 2023.
Meanwhile, Veronika Kudermetova’s figures won’t be massively helped despite her semifinal run in Madrid. The fact that she lost the semi 6-1 6-1 to Swiatek will hurt her games won figures, another bias to bear in mind with these figures.
Career Clay Court Analysis
Despite her loss in the Madrid final, Swiatek is a powerful adversary on the dirt. She is still yet to suffer double figure defeats on the surface on the WTA Tour.
There are a number of other players who hover around the 110 mark of games won in their career, which is usually the world class barometer. Swiatek’s numbers are dwarfing them, but in her absence the likes of Paula Badosa, Marketa Vondrousova and Daria Kasatkina’s figures would be much more promising.
Qinwen Zheng’s early data on clay courts is promising. She manages to hold her own serve much more regularly than most and if she can improve that return game by only a few percent there is the ability there to be a real threat on the dirt.
Russian players Ekaterina Alexandrova and Liudmila Samsonova are the only players in the top 16 seeds to come into the tournament with losing records on clay on the main tour.
Form & Rome Record
There have to be concerns over Victoria Azarenka’s form. The Belarusian does still have a good level within her, she won the doubles in Madrid with scratch partner Beatriz Haddad Maia, but she hasn’t been able to put a match together on the singles court on clay this year.
Also, the top players have worked out Coco Gauff. Her record against the top ten is really poor now, sitting alongside Alexandrova and Badosa at 20% win rate against the top players.
Swiatek’s excellent Rome record is there to be seen with two Ws next to her name. Interestingly, Karolina Pliskova is a recent two-time finalist, though her 6-0 6-0 defeat to Swiatek in 2021 may have left behind some serious scar tissue. Sabalenka has a good record here, as does Pegula, especially for players who aren’t naturals on the clay. Caroline Garcia does not have a positive recent record here though.
WTA Rome Draw
Rome has a 32-seed, 96-man draw. The top 32 seeds will be given a bye into the second round.
WTA Rome Betting Tips
Aryna Sabalenka 1pt EW @ 5/1 at Bet365
One can understand the price discrepancy between Swiatek and Sabalenka at the top of the market to an extent. Swiatek hasn’t been beaten here since 2020, but Sabalenka is a pretty decent price here considering her level of superiority over the rest of the field.
With tennis each way bets paying out (usually) half the price for a final place, that makes her 5/2 to reach the final, and a 5/1 shot to beat her opponent, probably Swiatek, if she got there.
Sabalenka of previous seasons was a pretty unreliable character, prone to throwing away good positions in her matches or putting herself under too much pressure when she went behind. Whether it is the Australian Open victory or the work she has done with her team I don’t know, but we are seeing very little volatility from Sabalenka in 2023 and that makes these prices that she is chalked up at most weeks very tempting to back.