Parma 2021: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | Emilia-Romagna Open

Serena Williams
Serena Williams

The WTA tour travels to Parma this week for the final leg in the lead-up to Roland Garros. Leading the pack at the newly-minted Emilia-Romagna Open are Serena and Venus Williams, who have taken last-minute wildcards into the tournament.

Also crowding the field are in-form players like Petra Martic, Coco Gauff, Daria Kasatkina and Sara Sorribes Tormo, as well as home favorites Camila Giorgi and Sara Errani. With main draw action set to begin Monday, here is a look at the prospects of the big names in the fray.

Top half: A slew of talented youngsters look to challenge Serena and Venus Williams

Venus Williams will look to redicover her form ahead of Roland Garros.
Venus Williams will look to redicover her form ahead of Roland Garros.

Top seeded players: [1] Serena Williams, [3] Coco Gauff, [5] Amanda Anisimova, [8] Caroline Garcia

Expected semifinal: Serena Williams vs Coco Gauff

Dark horse: Clara Tauson

Serena Williams enters the tournament looking for some extra match practice ahead of Roland Garros. However, she could face a lot of resistance from the slew of talented youngsters packed in this section.

Williams - who opens against a qualifier - is likely to be tested in the second round against the fast-rising Clara Tauson. A junior No. 1, Tauson has already made an impact on the tour by securing her maiden WTA title in Lyon earlier this year. And while the big-hitting Dane doesn't play her best on clay, she would still be eyeing an upset over a rusty Williams.

A resurgent Viktoria Golubic and France's Caroline Garcia are headed for a second-round meeting, and the winner here would decide Williams' projected quarterfinal opponent.

Third seed Coco Gauff will be keen to build on her semifinal run at the Italian Open last week. But she will need to find a way past seasoned campaigners such as Kaia Kanepi and Camila Giorgi early.

Gauff's strong counterpunching skills and all-round game should give her an edge over the mercurial duo in these conditions, but you cannot completely rule out an upset here.

Venus Williams and Amanda Anisimova are set to contest for the last quarterfinal spot in the top half. Neither of the two women has been in the best form heading into the tournament, and will want to make the most of the relatively open draw.

Predicted semifinal: Serena Williams def. Amanda Anisimova

Bottom half: Petra Martic, Daria Kasatkina, Sloane Stephens and Sara Sorribes Tormo fight for supremacy

Petra Martic enters the tournament on a confidence high
Petra Martic enters the tournament on a confidence high

Top seeded players: [2] Petra Martic, [4] Daria Kasatkina, [6] Wang Qiang, [8] Sara Sorribes Tormo

Expected semifinal: Petra Martic vs Daria Kasatkina

Dark horse: Sloane Stephens

Daria Kasatkina has found herself in one of the toughest sections of the draw. The Russian opens against a potentially-dangerous opponent in Hsieh Su-wei who, despite her poor start to the clay swing, could offer a unique set of challenges.

If Kasatkina were to come through that match, she could well run into former Roland Garros finalist Sloane Stephens next. Things wouldn't get any easier after that, as 2021 breakout player and claycourt specialist Sara Sorribes Tormo could be waiting in the last eight.

The Spaniard, however, will have to first come through a couple of dangerous floaters - Bernada Pera and Sara Errani - in the early rounds.

The draw has afforded some breathing room for second seed and Rome semfinalist Petra Martic, who has a couple of non-threatening matchups in the first few rounds. If the Croat can play herself into form early on, she could well find herself in a strong position for the business end of the tournament.

Predicted semifinal: Petra Martic def. Sara Sorribes Tormo

Prediction for the final

Serena Williams def. Petra Martic

Notable first-round matches

Coco Gauff vs Kaia Kanepi

Camila Giorgi vs Christina McHale

Sara Sorribes Tormo vs Bernada Pera

Daria Kasatkina vs Hsieh Su-wei

Edited by Musab Abid
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