Fixture: (1) Ashleigh Barty vs Shelby Rogers
Date: 29 April 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: WTA 1000
Prize money: €2,549,105
Match timing: Approx. 3 pm local time, 6.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Ashleigh Barty vs Shelby Rogers preview
Top seed Ashleigh Barty will open her week at the 2021 Madrid Open with a match against unseeded American Shelby Rogers.
Barty, the World No. 1, is the hottest player on the women's tour right now. She has made a defiant statement to critics of her place at the top of the WTA rankings through her ruthless form in recent weeks.
Over the past month, the Aussie has won two coveted titles - the Miami Open and the recently concluded Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. That has helped consolidate her place at the top of women's tennis in roaring fashion.
Barty will now look to add a third WTA 1000 title to her collection on a return to outdoor clay, the surface where she has won her only Slam so far.
World No.43 Shelby Rogers may not boast the same achievements as her first-round opponent, but the American's form over the past year has been impressive in its own right. The 28-year-old produced some solid results in the home stretch of 2020, and also reached the second week of this year's Australian Open.
Rogers will be playing in the main draw at the Madrid Open for the first time in her career, having previously failed to qualify in 2017.
Ashleigh Barty vs Shelby Rogers head-to-head
Ashleigh Barty has won all four of her previous meetings against Shelby Rogers and leads the head-to-head 4-0.
Interestingly, the pair have already met thrice this year. That includes the tight three-setter in Charleston earlier this month, where Barty squeezed out a 6-4 win in the deciding set.
Ashleigh Barty vs Shelby Rogers prediction
Unlike their meeting earlier in the year at the Australian Open, where Ashleigh Barty cruised to an easy win, the 2019 French Open champ didn't have total control over the proceedings in Charleston. But Barty was impressive on the return, which ultimately proved to be too strong for Shelby Rogers as she capitulated towards the end.
Barty ended up winning the title in Stuttgart while beating three top 10 players along the way, and she would be full of confidence right now.
On the other hand, Rogers' best result on clay remains her dream run to the quarterfinals of the 2016 French Open. Since then, the American has largely struggled to produce her best game on the slow surface.
Coming within striking distance of victory in Charleston should give Rogers some measure of self-belief during the re-match against Barty. But given the Aussie's diverse array of weapons, her kick serve that is tailored-made for clay and her strong groundstrokes off both wings, it will be very tough for Rogers to pull off an upset in Madrid.
Prediction: Ashleigh Barty to win in straight sets.