Internazionali BNL d'Italia, Rome R2:
(1) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs. 🇩🇪 Anna-Lena Friedsam
Serena Williams will begin her Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign on Tuesday evening with a second round clash against Anna-Lena Friedsam. Interestingly, Anna-Lena pushed Serena to a third set in their only previous meeting at Roland Garros last year, Serena will be hoping for a far more straightforward victory on this occasion as she makes her first appearance on the tour since Miami a couple of months ago.
Serena Williams has only played 3 tournaments this year and is yet to win a title, the poorest start to a season the American has made for a long, long time. Serena is actually yet to win a title since her shock loss to Roberta Vinci at the U.S Open, at this point in time it seems like that infamous semi-final loss to the Italian may well have been a turning point in the American’s career. It seems like Serena is yet to fully recover from that loss. Serena is a 3-time former champion in Rome and should be very motivated to add another title to her collection this week given her recent (relative) struggles. Serena is also competing in the doubles draw alongside sister Venus this week, but the pair suffered a shock first round loss on Monday, but the match should still act as decent preparation for Serena's first round clash on Tuesday with Anna-Lena Friedsam.
Anna-Lena Friedsam is having a great year and continues to climb up the rankings. However, the German has generally struggled on clay throughout her career and has once again made a poor start to the clay court season in 2016, arriving in Rome on the back of a couple of disappointing early round exits. Friedsam made a decent start in Rome on Monday, recording a fairly comfortable 6-4 7-5 win over Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova to set up a clash with the world number 1 on Tuesday. A match the German will enter with nothing to lose and will be relatively confident after her strong showing against the American in their only previous match.
In the only previous meeting between the pair, it was Serena who recorded a 5-7 6-3 6-3 win over the German. Serena was really challenged in that match and is likely to be better prepared to tackle the German on this occasion. Friedsam will know that she is capable of competing with Serena and may sense some vulnerability in the American's game since Serena has not played a competitive singles match for such a long time. Given this is Serena’s first clay court match of the year, the American is likely to make a slow start but ultimately a seemingly motivated Williams should be good enough to win this match in straight sets despite some likely early challenges.