Maria Sharapova vs Ashleigh Barty Tennis Prediction
Sharapova is 9-0 in Rome first round matches. She has accrued confidence after the run at Madrid and will walk onto the court as the favorite against the Australian #1 for their first meeting.
Maria Sharapova News
Maria Sharapova, the three-time Rome champion, is making her tenth appearance at the tournament. She has won this title in 2011 (d. Stosur), 2012 (d. Li Na) and 2015 (d. Suarez Navarro). In 2017, she was forced to retire against Lucic-Baroni due to a thigh injury.
The Russian holds the second best win-loss record at Rome (19-2) among active players, only behind Serena Williams (23-2). She is contesting this week ranked #40, the highest ranking she held since returning to the tour in April 2017 after the ban lifted.
Last week in Madrid, the former world #1 snapped her four-match losing streak and recorded her second quarterfinal of the season, defeating Buzarnescu, Begu, and Mladenovic, before falling to eventual finalist Kiki Bertens.
Ashleigh Barty News
Ashleigh Barty, who exited Rome in the qualifyings last year (l. Ostapenko), is making her main draw debut as a top 20 player. The Aussie has gone 3-2 in the clay season so far in 2018, better than the 2-2 record she posted on clay last year (Strasbourg quarterfinal).
Barty started the season with her fourth career final at Sydney International, defeating Gavrilova and Strycova (l. to Kerber). Apart from those two wins, she has secured just one more top 50 win in the season, against #40 Martic at Miami.
Tennis Prediction: Maria Sharapova