Fixture: (1) Serena Williams vs Katerina Siniakova
Date: 18 May 2021
Tournament: Emilia-Romagna Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 16)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA 250
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: $235,238
Match timing: Not before 2 pm local time, 12 pm GMT, 8 am EST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Serena Williams vs Katerina Siniakova preview
An oral surgery had briefly interrupted Williams' season after her semifinal finishes at the Australian Open and the Yarra Valley Classic. Her return to action at the Italian Open last week, however, proved to be short-lived.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion was shown the door by last year's Roland Garros semifinalist Nadia Podoroska in her Rome opener. But Williams promptly decided to take a wildcard into the Parma event in order to get some matches under her belt before Roland Garros.
The 39-year-old looked sharp in her opening match on Monday, taking just 68 minutes to beat Italian qualifier Lisa Pigato 6-3, 6-2.
Katerina Siniakova, meanwhile, is primarily a doubles player. But she does occasionally make some noise in singles too, as we saw during her run to the fourth round of the French Open in 2019.
The World No. 68 has played singles in eight events this year, reaching the quarterfinals just once. But that happened to be on clay, at the Istanbul Open.
Siniakova has brought that form into the Emilia-Romagna Open, where she made a strong start on Monday. Dropping her serve just once, the Czech cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 win over rising star Clara Tauson.
Serena Williams vs Katerina Siniakova head-to-head
Serena Williams and Katerina Siniakova have never crossed paths on the tour before, so their current head-to-head stands at a 0-0 deadlock.
Serena Williams vs Katerina Siniakova prediction
For Serena Williams to win this match, it is imperative that she serves well. Her first-serve percentage was a disappointing 48.1% against Nadia Podoroska in Rome, and she also coughed up four double faults.
Williams did improve those numbers against Pigato in Parma; her first-serve rate went up to 62.2%, and she won 75% of her first-serve points. It needs be noted, however, that her opponent was highly inexperienced.
Against a good returner like Katerina Siniakova, Williams would need to put in an even better performance on serve. Siniakova knows how to mix things up given her experience in doubles. She also makes unexpected forays into the net whenever she gets a chance, which always puts opponents under pressure.
The Czech will look to use her variety and finesse to move Williams all over the court. However, it remains to be seen how long she can protect her serve against a powerful returner like Serena Williams.
If the American can get her serve going and find the range on her returns and groundstrokes, Siniakova will likely find things very tough on Tuesday.
Prediction: Serena Williams to win in two tight sets.