Serena Williams takes on Galina Voskoboeva tonight in her opening match at the 2012 Internazionali BNL d’Italia (20:00 BST start).
Williams blew away the field in last week’s Mutua Madrid Open, sweeping aside her opponents to clinch the title in style. Now ranked sixth in the world, she is favourite to make it back-to-back titles this week in Rome, with the Internazionali BNL d’Italia providing her with a great opportunity to win her first red clay title since the 2002 French Open.
Somewhat unusually, Serena’s two clay court titles this year have been on green and blue clay respectively.
The switch to the red dirt might level the playing field a little. A lot of players, including Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki, had claimed that the surface in Madrid was a little too slippery. Serena, though not entirely content with her performances throughout the week, didn’t appear to have too much trouble adapting to the unique courts in the Magic Box.
World no. 46 Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan entered this tournament with an 8-9 match record for the season, and based on her recent form, it is hard to see her causing an upset this evening.
Prediction: Serena in two.