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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tip: Games Handicap – Kudermetova +4.5 @ $1.85