The WTA tour resumes this week after a five-month coronavirus-enforced break. And the first professional event is all set to be played on the claycourts of Palermo, Italy.
Several top names of the WTA tour, including World No. 15 Petra Martic and Grand Slam finalists Markets Vondrousova and Sara Errani, are among the players leading the field at the 2020 Palermo Ladies Open.
The presence of other current and former top 20 players like Daria Kasatkina, Anett Kontaveit, Donna Vekic and Elise Mertens as well as feisty underdogs in the form of Camila Giorgi and Sorana Cristea only add to an already packed list. With main draw action set to begin Monday, here is a look at the prospects of the top names in the event.
Expected semifinal: Petra Martic vs Donna Vekic
Analysis: Petra Martic comes into the tournament as the favorite to win, not only because of her top seeding but also because of the form that she was in before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the tour. The Croat was at a career high ranking at the beginning of the year and was doing well to live up to that ranking.
In Palermo, however, she has been a handed a tough draw. The talented Belgian trio of Alison Van Uytvank, Kirsten Flipkens and Elise Mertens stand in her way of the last four.
The other seed in the draw, Donna Vekic, will have to be wary of Araxanta Rus and Polona Hercog early on. But Vekic's real test is likely to come in the quarterfinals, with either Anett Kontaveit or a resurgence Irina Camelia Begu looming.
Semifinal prediction: Petra Martic vs Irina Camelia Begu or Anett Kontaveit
Expected semifinal: Maria Sakkari vs Marketa Vondrousova
Analysis: This rather packed section of the draw will see one blockbuster match after the other right from the get-go. Eighth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova will take on former top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic, only for the winner to square off against either Sara Errani or Sorana Cristea.
Amidst all that, third seed Maria Sakkari might just the one to watch out for.
Dayana Yastremska and Marketa Vondrousova will look to make the quarterfinals, but might face a tough challenge from familiar faces. Vondrousova, in particular, will have to be vary of local favorite Camila Giorgi. The Italian can be quite a force on her given day, and the second seed will be well aware of the threat.
Semifinal prediction: Maria Sakkari vs Camila GiorgiPublished 02 Aug 2020, 19:46 IST