The 2017 edition of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia tournament, the WTA’s tour stop in Rome, is ready for takeoff. This is a week with a Premier 5 tournament, following the Premier Mandatory event in Madrid. It’s a busy time of the season, with the top players trying to collect points and positioning before the French Open in a couple of weeks. Some players will try to get some work in the week before the French Open, but for most players, especially the contenders, this will be the last week of tennis before Roland Garros, so it’s a pretty big one.
The competition in the 64-player main draw begins on Monday, May 15.
Event: Internazionali BNL d’Italia
Category: WTA Tour – Premier 5
Date: May 15 – 21, 2017
Location: Foro Italico – Rome, Italy
With a prize money allotment of just over $2.7 million, the 900-point tournament is a notch below the Premier Mandatory level. That’s a necessary function of creating a tiered structure with the mandatory events greatly eclipsing the Premier 5 events in overall value. The level of money is larger at a Premier Mandatory event than at a Premier 5. The amount of points is a little different, but not hugely. Whereas the Premier Mandatory event is 1,000 points, this one’s only slightly less significant.
Yet, with all of this being said, the tournament has more than $500,000 of prize money compared to last year’s figure. This is an established tournament which has gotten richer in 2017.
Champion – 900
Runner-up – 585
Semifinal – 350
Quarterfinal – 190
Round-of-16 results provides 105 points, a round-of-32 showing 60 points.
Former Champions and Results (5 Years)
Year Champion Runner-up Score
2016 – Serena Williams def. Madison Keys – 7-6, 6-3
2015 – Maria Sharapova def. Carla Suarez-Navarro – 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
2014 – Serena Williams def. Sara Errani – 6-3, 6-0
2013 – Serena Williams def. Victoria Azarenka – 6-1, 6-3
2012 – Maria Sharapova def. Li Na – 4-6, 6-4, 7-6
In her opening-round match in Madrid, Simona Halep mounted a stunning comeback to edge Roberta Vinci in a thriller and save herself an early exit. Halep hasn’t looked back since and has registered victories over Samantha Stosur and Coco Vandeweghe. The Romanian looks at home on clay. In the absence of some big names, she appears ready to pounce on every opportunity that comes her way.
Svetlana Kuznetsova has a game perfectly suitable for clay. Kuznetsova is known to be inconsistent but has had some solid results this year. She brings a 15-7 win-loss record to Rome. Like Halep, she came out unscathed from a precarious situation against Alison Riske in her opening-round match in Madrid. Since that win, the Russian moved to the semifinals. Although she is in good form, how her 31-year-old body adapts to Rome remains to be seen.
After Garbine Muguruza’s French Open victory last year, expectations began to soar, but unfortunately the results began to drop. Muguruza lost in the opening round against Timea Bacsinszky in Madrid and has not yet won a clay-court match this season. The Spaniard is ranked fourth in the world but hasn’t done any justice to her ranking. Can she finally find some form on clay?
Kristina Mladenovic has been red hot this season. The Frenchwoman made the finals in Stuttgart and now has backed it up by reaching another final in Madrid. Mladenovic is young and rapidly improving. She will be ranked in the top 15 in the world next week, a mark of her progress. Rome will test Mladenovic’s consistency and if she can pass that test, she’ll be on the periphery of the top 10.
Returning from her 15-month doping ban, Maria Sharapova has lost two matches. Those two matches have come against players who have openly criticized her comeback and have even branded Sharapova a cheater. Mladenovic beat her in Stuttgart in three sets, and in a grudge showdown, Eugenie Bouchard played a strong match to infuriate Sharapova even more. Sharapova was far from impressive with her serve and conceded nine double faults in her loss to Bouchard. The famous Russian loves playing in Rome and has won the title twice in the last five years. Will she bring her explosive serve to the Foro Italico? Is this where her journey to the top starts?
The Foro Italico
The Foro Italico was built at the order of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and was completed in the 1930s. It’s not just a tennis facility, but a larger sports complex which houses many of the most important sports venues in Italy.
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