2019 WTA Italian Open Preview, Predictions & Betting Tips
The WTA Tour makes the short trip to Rome for the 2019 Italian Open after the Mutua Madrid Open. It's the last chance for players to test themselves on clay before the French Open
The tournament in the Italian capital is also notable for the return of Serena Williams. Williams is a four-time winner of the event but has not played since her third round withdrawal at the Miami Open in March.
World No. 3 Simona Halep and second-ranked Petra Kvitova lead the way with the bookmakers, while recently-crowned Madrid Open champion Kiki Bertens has surged to third-favourite and two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina languishes as an outsider.
Ahead of the start of the 2019 Italian Open we evaluate the leading contenders and look at where value can be found in this ultra-competitive field.
2019 Italian Open Women’s Singles Top Contenders
Simona Halep (6.00)
It comes as little surprise to see Halep as the bookmakers favourite. The reigning French Open champion is the best clay court player on the WTA Tour
and produced an encouraging campaign in Madrid where she reached the final.
The 27-year-old Romanian may have been unable to secure a third title in the Spanish capital, but considering she was returning from a brief injury layoff and was battling a cold in the lead-up it was a thoroughly impressive week.
The World No. 3 now arrives in Rome aiming for third time lucky after finishing runner-up to Elina Svitolina for the past two years. Possessing great speed, balance and groundstrokes, Halep’s game is built for the clay and her form on the red dust has only improved the last few seasons.
Whether she has sufficiently recovered from her exploits in Madrid and the preceding injury and illness could play a part in how Halep fares in Rome.
Petra Kvitova (9.00)
The World No. 2 may have been unable to defend her Madrid Open title last week, but she is still enjoying a fine season that includes two titles, one of which came on the clay in Stuttgart.
For a player of such power that has achieved so much success on faster surfaces – most notably two Wimbledon titles – Kvitova has also won five clay court tournaments, proving that when she is able to harness her heavy hitting, she is a tough prospect in all conditions.
The 29-year-old Czech does not have much of a track record in Rome, with a pair of quarter-final appearances, but her overall consistency this season qualifies her as a leading contender, particularly as her two clay court tournaments have resulted in a title and a semi-final.
Kiki Bertens (11.00)
After her stunning victory at the Madrid Open last week, it is little wonder Bertens is a leading contender in Rome. The Dutchwoman, who has moved up to a career-high No. 4 in the world rankings, became the first female to win the title without dropping a set.
The calibre of her opponents en route to the title makes her achievement even more impressive, with wins over Jelena Ostapenko, Kvitova, Sloane Stephens and Halep.
Given how well-rounded her game is, with a blend of power and variation and a dangerous serve, it’s a surprise Bertens has not featured more prominently in the business end of big tournaments. Perhaps Madrid will prove a turning point.
Bertens has a mixed record in Rome, with a semi-final showing and three early round exits, so it will be interesting to see how she fares this week.
Similarly to Halep, how she responds from a physically and mentally draining week in Madrid could be key.
Serena Williams (11.00)
Such is the enduring influence of Williams that she arrives in Rome as the joint-third favourite to win the tournament despite a severe lack of match fitness. It might also help that the World No. 11 is a four-time champion in the Italian capital.
That aside, Williams has experienced an extremely limited season so far, having competed in just three tournaments and only at the Australian Open did she exit the tournament without retiring injured.
The 37-year-old American continues to take a slow and steady approach since returning to the WTA Tour following the birth of her daughter, but we have seen that when fitness is on her side she can go deep in tournaments.
While Williams is sure to have her sights on the title, getting a few matches under her belt ahead of the French Open has to be the primary objective.
Naomi Osaka (15.00)
After winning the Australian Open in January, Osaka endured a tough run of form on her favoured hard courts, but ironically the Japanese star looks to be getting back to her best on her least preferred surface.
A succession of early exits in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami gave way for a march to the semi-finals in Stuttgart where she withdrew injured, before impressing to reach the quarter-finals in Madrid only to throw away a commanding lead against Belinda Bencic.
In her two appearances in Rome, Osaka lost in the first and second rounds so history is not exactly on her side, but a glance at her draw suggests she could have a good run. In the second round, she could face Dominika Cibulkova, whom she beat in Madrid, before potentially facing Ostapenko or tournament 16th seed Julia Goerges in the last 16.
Considering Osaka has won all three of her career titles on hard courts, it would be a surprise for her to triumph in Rome but an encouraging run could be on the cards.
Elina Svitolina (17.00)
Somewhat of an outsider heading into this year’s tournament, but as the winner of the past two titles in Rome, Svitolina should not be discounted.
The Ukrainian’s outsider status has more to do with an ongoing knee injury than her chances of completing a hat-trick.
Prior to the injury that forced her to withdraw before Stuttgart, Svitolina was on an impressive run of form, reaching three successive semi-finals in Doha, Dubai and Indian Wells, but she has not played since her second round loss in Miami.
Given her stunning record in Rome and her fine form before sustaining the knee problem, Svitolina could be worth considering if she has suitably recovered her fitness. Her first-round loss in Madrid suggests she is still short of her best, but she has had a week to prepare for her title defence.
2019 Italian Open Women’s Singles Betting Odds
- Simona Halep - 6.00
- Petra Kvitova - 9.00
- Kiki Bertens - 10.00
- Serena Williams - 10.00
- Naomi Osaka - 15.00
- Ashleigh Barty - 15.00
- Elina Svitlona - 17.00
- Karolina Pliskova - 21.00
- Sloane Stephens - 21.00
- Belina Bencic - 26.00
2019 Italian Open Women’s Singles Betting Tips
Whenever the cream of the WTA Tour compete at the same tournament it’s always going to be fiercely competitive, but it feels time for Halep to land her first title of the season.
The Romanian came extremely close in Madrid, despite health problems, and as a two-time finalist, she knows how to win matches in Rome.
2019 Italian Open Women’s Singles Outright Winner:
Simona Halep @ 6.00 at bet365
- 3 units
2019 Italian Open Women’s Singles Win Second Quarter:
Simona Halep @ 2.00 at bet365
- 5 units