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WTA Rome Tennis Picks, Predictions: Iga Swiatek to Continue Her Run of Good Form (May 12)

WTA Rome Tennis Picks, Predictions: Iga Swiatek to Continue Her Run of Good Form (May 12) article feature image

Alex Pantling/Getty. Pictured: Iga Swiatek hits a backhand at the Italian Open.

The WTA tournament in Rome has been full of fascinating tennis and we have reached the round of 16.

And I’ve found betting value on two of Thursday’s matches, including Iga Swiatek’s blockbuster showdown with Victoria Azarenka.

Read on for two plays to think about from Thursday’s WTA action in Rome.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.

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Elena Rybakina (-140) vs.  Jil Teichmann (+114)

5 a.m. ET

Elena Rybakina hasn’t dropped a set in Rome so far. In her latest victory, Rybakina beat Lauren Davis 6-4, 6-3.

Rybakina did a great job of attacking the Davis serve. The Kazakh won 48% of her return points, including 55% on Davis’ second serve, breaking serve four times. However, Rybakina won just 49% of her second-serve points and faced eight break points, though she saved six of them.

The world No. 17 is a serve-centric player, so it’s concerning that in both her Rome matches against Elina Avanesyan and Davis, she won under 70% of her first serves and 50% of her second serves. However, Rybakina still won both matches, which is what’s most important.

Jil Teichmann has continued her good form from Madrid in Rome. In her second-round match, Teichmann defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

The Swiss did well to neutralize the huge Pliskova serve, as she won 51% of her return points, including 47% on Pliskova’s first serve. Teichmann generated a ridiculous 22 break points, breaking serve eight times. And while Teichmann won just 53% of her service points, her return quality meant that didn’t matter.

The lefty is less serve-centric compared to Rybakina, utilizing her heavy forehand to dictate from the baseline and has great movement around the court. Teichmann defends well, and she can turn defense into offense beautifully.

These two just played last week in Madrid, with Teichmann coming through in straight sets. Given that the slower conditions in Rome suit Teichmann’s game more than the altitude of Madrid, I’m a bit confused by this line.

As Teichmann just showed against Pliskova today, she is very good at returning on clay. She showcased excellent returning last week against Rybakina, as well, winning 50% of her return points.

Once Teichmann gets the ball back, she can effectively blunt the powerful Rybakina groundstrokes and make the 6-foot Kazakh uncomfortable as she can stretch her around the court and make it harder for her to dictate play.

Pick: Teichmann ML (+114 via FanDuel)

Victoria Azarenka (+300) vs. Iga Swiatek (-400)

7 a.m. ET

Azarenka has had a strong start to her Rome campaign. She hasn’t dropped a set, beating Maria Camila Osorio 6-2, 6-4 in her second-round victory.

Against Osorio, Azarenka returned very well. She won 54% of her return points, which allowed her to win six of nine return games. While Osorio put 76% of her first serves into play, she only won 44% of those points.

It is slightly concerning, however, that Azarenka has only won a combined 16-of-35 second-serve points this tournament.

In general, Azarenka has been less consistent this season from the baseline and struggled with her rally tolerance. With that said, Azarenka is playing better aggressive tennis this week and is controlling the baseline well.

Swiatek has continued her red-hot form in Rome. Swiatek kicked off her tournament with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Elena Gabriela Ruse.

The Pole won seven of eight games on Ruse’s serve in a dominating return performance. She won 67% of her return points, including 76% of the points on Ruse’s second serve. Overall, Swiatek has held 10 of her last 11 opponents to under 50% second-serve points won.

Swiatek has now won 24 matches in a row and taken the titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Stuttgart. Within this incredible stretch of matches, she’s won 34 of her last 35 sets. Swiatek has done an incredible job of overpowering opponents with her forehand and hitting her spots on her serve. She also moves around the court very well and counterpunches very effectively.

The world No. 1’s best surface is clay, as she’s won over 85% of the matches in her career on the surface and secured the 2020 Roland Garros singles title. Swiatek moves especially well on clay and her heavy forehand gives opponents fits.

I fail to see how Azarenka, who is used to being the aggressor and controlling the baseline, is going to gain any traction given Swiatek’s ability to defend when necessary, but also use her forehand to control the baseline.

Swiatek’s variety is also much better than Azarenka and she won’t let Azarenka gain a rhythm from the baseline, as Swiatek will keep the Belarusian on her toes by changing the pace of play within rallies.

Pick: Swiatek to win 2-0 (-143 via PointsBet)

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