Tournament: Italian Open 2022
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA 1000
Prize money: €2,527,250.
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Ons Jabeur vs Sorana Cirstea preview
Fresh off her Madrid Open triumph, World No. 10 Ons Jabeur will begin her hunt for the Rome title against the 27th-ranked Sorana Cirstea.
It has been a dream clay season for the Tunisian so far. The former junior Roland Garros champion has taken her game a notch higher on the surface this year.
Jabeur made it all the way to the final at Charleston last month, where she suffered a heartbreaking defeat in three sets to Belinda Bencic. The 27-year-old then started her European clay campaign with yet another grueling three-set loss to Paula Badosa in Stuttgart.
Jabeur didn't let either of those close defeats demoralize her. At the WTA 1000 event in Madrid this week, she played some incredible tennis to beat quality opponents in Simona Halep, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Bencic to reach the biggest final of her career.
She then faced off against the spirited Jessica Pegula, who stormed back to bagel Jabeur after losing the first set in their summit clash on Saturday. But it was Jabeur's determination, belief and courage that gifted her a 7-5, 0-6, 6-2 win in the end to help her etch her name in the annals of Arab and African sporting history.
The 32-year-old Cirstea, meanwhile, brings a 14-9 win-loss record for the season into Rome.
She reached the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year before making the semis in Lyon. With the tour moving to clay, the Romanian's Istanbul title defense ended in the last four.
She then failed to bring that momentum to Madrid, falling in the first round to home hope Nuria Parrizas-Diaz.
Having beaten Jabeur twice in the past, Cirstea will hope to trouble the Tunisian when the two meet in the first round in Rome.
Ons Jabeur vs Sorana Cirstea head-to-head
Cirstea leads Jabeur 2-0 in the head-to-head. The Romanian first defeated Jabeur in three sets in Doha in 2013 before notching a straight-sets win at Baku the following year.
Ons Jabeur vs Sorana Cirstea odds
(All odds sourced from BetMGM)
Ons Jabeur vs Sorana Cirstea prediction
This match will pit Cirstea's power-packed baseline game against Jabeur's finesse and variety. Although the Romanian has had the upper hand over Jabeur in the past, she hasn't been consistent of late.
Jabeur, on the other hand, has been a model of consistency in recent times. Not only that, she has improved her game by leaps and bounds and will be high on confidence arriving in Rome.
That said, Cirstea does have the raw power and aggression to put Jabeur in a spot of bother. However, the Tunisian has the ability to break her rhythm with her excellent court coverage and array of dropshots.
Cirstea also needs to produce decent numbers on serve and keep her unforced errors in check, otherwise she will be handing chances to Jabeur on a platter.
Unless Jabeur is tired from her Madrid heroics, this match is likely to finish in straight sets in the Tunisian's favor.
Pick: Ons Jabeur to win in two tight sets.