Fixture: Sloane Stephens vs Sara Errani
Date: 20 May 2021
Tournament: Emilia-Romagna Open 2021
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA 250
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: $235,238
Match timing: Approx. 1 pm local time, 11 am GMT, 7 am EST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Sloane Stephens vs Sara Errani preview
In a showdown between two former French Open runners-up, Sloane Stephens takes on Sara Errani in the quarterfinals of the Emilia-Romagna Open on Thursday.
Stephens, a former US Open champion, last reached a final back in 2018 - when she finished second-best to Elina Svitolina at the WTA Finals. The American has struggled mightily since then, losing in the opening rounds of tournaments multiple times.
Stephens' run to the quarterfinals at Parma is only the second time in nine events this year that she has made the last eight at a tournament. The previous instance - at Charleston - was also on clay, suggesting that she might be getting close to her best again on the surface.
The World No. 65 has had a couple of solid wins this week, one of which came over seasoned claycourter Daria Kasatkina. Stephens will be hoping to carry that momentum into the last eight, where she faces another clay-loving player.
Back in 2012, Sara Errani made a stunning run to the French Open final, where she went down to Maria Sharapova. Over the next few years, she established herself as a force both in singles and doubles, winning all the four Majors in the latter category.
But a dope test failure and subsequent suspension interrupted her career in 2017. Errani made her return in 2020, but hasn't been able to make much of a mark since.
The Italian's best achievements so far this year have been reaching the Australian Open third round from qualifying and making the Copa Colsanitas quarterfinals.
This week in Parma, Errani has played three-setters against both Ana Bogdan and seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo. She managed to reach the quarters after Sorribes Tormo retired in the third set due to a left thigh injury.
Sloane Stephens vs Sara Errani head-to-head
Sloane Stephens and Sara Errani are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head.
The two met for the first time in Cincinnati a decade ago, where the Italian ran out a 6-1, 7-5 winner. Stephens and Errani crossed swords the very next year in Miami, where the American exacted revenge with a hard-fought 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win.
Sloane Stephens vs Sara Errani prediction
Both Sloane Stephens and Sara Errani are desperately on the hunt for a deep run. For Errani this is a home-town event, and the Bologna-born player could well use that fact to fine some extra motivation for the quarterfinal match.
The Italian's heavy topspin forehand and impressive foot speed are undeniable assets on this surface. Being proficient in doubles, Errani can also move forward and finish the points at the net.
However, her serve remains a significant Achilles' heel. The 34-year-old holds the ignominious record of the slowest serve ever at 49mph, and she has frequently had troubles against strong returners.
In the second round match on Wednesday, Errani committed five double faults and got broken five times. That is something the Italian needs to address before facing the resurgent Sloane Stephens.
The American is beginning to look a lot like the player she once was. She has been moving well this week at Parma, and also striking the ball with confidence.
Stephens has managed to keep her error count low at this tournament, which has been a recurring issue for her all year.
If the 28-year-old can keep her errors at bay again and attack the weak Errani serve with regularity, she has a great chance of winning this match. Stephens has also had an extra day of rest, whereas the Italian had to play a couple of three-setters in her first two rounds.
If Stephens can remain focused throughout the match, she should be able to come through.
Prediction: Sloane Stephens to win in three sets.