WTA Rome Preview

This week the WTA’s best and brightest meet in Rome, the tournament of repeat champions. Elina Svitolina is the 2 time defending champion. Serena Williams won 3 of the 4 before that and 4 titles in Rome in total. Sharapova has 3 wins. Conchita Martinez won 4 times in a row. Gabriela Sabatini won 4 out of titles. Chris Evert has 5 titles. When you win in Rome, you win in bunches it seems. Will Elina Svitolina continue that trend? Or will a new player claim the title and start their reign of dominance in Rome? Let’s take a look at some tournament history, breakdown each quarter, and pick some outrights.

Rome 1.jpg

The tables above show us what % of matches since 2010 have gone over a specific total. The top shows just Rome and the bottom shows every clay court tournament. Start by comparing the bottom rows, which shows us rates for all rounds of the tournament combined. It looks like some of the lower totals are much more likely to go over than your average clay match. In some spots is as much as 10% more likely. I’m not sure if that’s enough for me to lean towards over this week. Not much to glean here for me.

Rome 2.jpg

The tables above show us what % of matches since 2010 would have covered various game spreads. The top shows just Rome and the bottom shows every clay court tournament. Start again by comparing the bottom rows, which shows us rates for all rounds of the tournament combined. Again, not much to glean. The variances to your average match are all over the place. No reason to lean dogs or favorites this week.

1st Quarter

This is a messy quarter. The #1 seed, Naomi Osaka, is not a fan of the clay. She’s had a little success this year, but going back further there is nothing exciting in her past on the dirt. At the bottom half of the quarter is Kiki Bertens who is phenomenal on clay, but is coming off a title in Madrid and may be thinking about rest for Rolland Garros and not as much about winning this event. Buzarnescu used to be great on play, but here form lately is uninspiring. Yastremska is a great young player, but she’s yet to prove herself on the dirt. I think Bertens probably wins the quarter, but there’s no value in any of the pricing. Maybe someone odd like Hsieh of Ostapenko wins, but like I said, kind of a mess.

2nd Quarter

Noted mother, Serena Williams, makes her first clay appearance of the season. Let’s hope she’s healthy and playing good tennis because she could have some fun matchups. Her sister might be there in round 2 and Sloane Stephens in round 3. I’m going to need to see her play a few matches on clay before I get involved. She hasn’t moved well and injured in her last appearance. The aforementioned Stevens seems to be liking her new coach, but she’s lacked any consistency. She’s at 20-1 to win the tournament which is just about right. Simona Halep is in the top of the quarter, but she’s coming off a long week in Madrid and a tough loss in the final there. She could win this quarter and the tournament, but at 5-1 she’s the favorite and that feels dumb given her potential fatigue issues. The name that does stick out to me is Vondrousova at 40-1. She’s having a great year, loves the dirt, and could certainly get by a tired Halep. I’m going to put a quarter unit on Vondrousova.

3rd Quarter

The 2 time defending champ is here, but she got smoked in the first round of Miami and this will be her first clay match of the year. She’s been resting to help an injury, so it’s almost impossible to trust her. Her price at 16-1 is tempting, but not tempting enough. Azarenka has been amazing on clay the last few weeks, but this tournament will not play to her serve like the last few. Muguruza is one of the least reliable things on planet Earth. Wozniacki has been complaining about her RA. Similar to Azarenka, Pliskova will find her serve less valuable here. The name that stands out is Madison Keys. She’s alreadu got a title on clay this season. She took off last week so she should be fresh. She made the final here in 2016 and the won 2 matches before having to withdraw last year. She’s priced at 25-1 to win this event. Given all the uncertainty in this quarter, I’m happy to put half a unit on Keys.

4th Quarter

Kvitova does not have a great record in Rome. She hasn’t played since 2016 and has never won more than 2 matches in a row. It’s hard to support her as the #2 favorite according to the bookmakers. She’s playing phenomenal tennis this year, but I’m going to pass on that number. Barty is a great player, but has not shown it yet on clay and is certainly not worth your money at 14-1. There are, however, 2 very cheap, good clay court players in this quarter. Kontaveit & Sevastova are 28-1 and 50-1 to win this event respectively. The price on Sevastova is particularly perplexing when considering she would have to play Kvitova a round later than Anett. It seems the market really respects Bencic on clay. I do not. Half a unit each on Kontaveit and Sevastova. We have a great chance to see either win the quarter. Half a unit on each.

Recap

Historical trends like:

·         An average clay event

Outright Picks

·         Quarter unit – Vondrousova 100-1

·         Half unit – Keys 25-1

·         Half unit – Kontaveit 28-1

·         Half unit – Sevastova 50-1

Here’s how my bracket looks:

·         1st Quarter – Bertens over Osaka

·         2nd Quarter – Stephens over Vondrousova

·         3rd Quarter – Keys over Muguruza

·         4th Quarter – Sevastova over Kontaveit

·         Final – Keys over Stephens

Thanks for reading! Please reach out to me on Twitter @_Noops. I’ll be posting a daily write up of every match throughout the tournament and I’d love to answer any questions or hear any thoughts you have. Be sure to subscribe to the Net Worth podcast (@NetWorthPod). I host with 2 other top level tennis handicappers every week. It’s available on iTunes, Soundcloud and just about everywhere else. Thanks again and best of luck!