The Best of the Day preview rips a forehand down the line with tennis tips for Ash Barty’s big Italian Open test against boom Russian Veronika Kudermetova.
19:20 (AEST) @ Foro Italico, Rome
History: First meeting
Final thoughts: The Best of the Day preview breaks down the next step in Ashleigh Barty’s build-up to a French Open tilt: a Round of 16 showdown with rising Russian Veronika Kudermetova in Rome.
World No.1 Barty has been in blistering form since her heart-breaking Australian Open quarter-final loss. She won the Miami Open and Stuttgart Open either side of a quarter-final exit at the Charleston Open.
It was the clash between the queen of the rankings and the best player in the tournament’s history.
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 6, 2021
The 2019 French Open champ reached the final of the Madrid Open, going down to Aryna Sabalenka 6-0 3-6 6-4 in a rollercoaster decider.
Gaining passage directly into the second round in Rome, Barty comfortably accounted for Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4 6-1 yesterday.
— wta (@WTA) May 12, 2021
Barty is on the third line of French Open tournament betting at $6.50 – and is a $1.33 favourite to advance to the Italian Open quarters by disposing of Kudermetova.
Kudermetova hunts another big scalp
Boasting a career-high ranking of No.28, Kudermetova has already made a couple of big statements in Rome.
The 24-year-old came from a set down to eliminate 14th seed Elise Mertens in the first round, before powering past former world No.4 Caroline Garcia 6-4 6-4.
What a reach!
Veronika Kudermetova is on 🔥 as she takes the early break in the decider against 14th seed Mertens!
— WTA Russians (@WTArussians) May 11, 2021
Kudermetova is also fresh from her maiden WTA tournament triumph. She took out the Charleston Open on green clay last month, just three months after her first WTA final – a loss to Aryna Sabalenka at the Abu Dhabi Open.
Kudermetova upset defending champ Kiki Bertens less than two weeks ago at the Madrid Open. She eventually lost a three-setter to Petra Kvitova in the Round of 16.
In form on clay 🔥
— wta (@WTA) May 1, 2021
Barty is expected to overwhelm her less-credentialled opponent. But Kudermetova is in sensational touch and a Best of the Day upset could be on the cards here. At the very least, she will test Barty and likely take a set off her.