Sabalenka is among the players who need a strong series in Rome

Aryna Sabalenka Twitter profile affects all important tags:

Professional tennis player. You like to smile. Passionate in victory. Have sweet teeth !!!

Pay attention to those exclamation points.

The world knows May 5 as Cinco de Mayo, what has become a celebration of Mexican-American culture, but it is also the anniversary of Sabalenka’s birth. On Thursday in Rome, Internazionali BNL D’Italia presented Sabalenka with a cake decorated with chocolate glaze and red candles in the shape of 24.

Hair still wet from showering after training, Sabalenka cut a small piece of cake, laughed and said: “It looks delicious. OK, I’ll take this one. “

Rome 2022: draw | 411 | the results | Order of play

And comically done with the rest of the cake. She would probably laugh well at her now. A year ago, she symbolically took the cake, recording the biggest victory of her career in Madrid. Sabalenka defeated 1st Ashleigh Barty in three exciting sets and won that Hologic WTA 1000 Tour title – and found something in her game that led to 2nd place in her career later that summer.

But after losing the first round match at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open to Amanda Anisimova, Sabalenka is looking for that mojo again. She is one of three Top 10 players to record a disappointing result in Madrid and should succeed in Rome. Good news? Internazionali BNL D’Italia, where the game runs from Monday to Sunday, is the second consecutive WTA 1000 – the perfect place to create momentum at Roland Garros.

Overview of Rome

As you read this, Sabalenka and Karolina Pliškova have 10 days from defeat in their first match in Madrid. It has been a whole week since Garbiñe Muguruza went to the second round. They should be ready to go; they have been practicing in Rome for days. Incredibly, none of the three have a winning record this year. Their total number is 18-21.

No.4 Aryna Sabalenka

2022 record: 10-10

Worrying statistics: She is the WTA runaway leader with 187 double faults; Paula Badosa is next, from a distant 112. At the start of the season it was a big problem and it cost Sabalenka’s games. Double faults are as good a measure of self-confidence as anything, and it is clear that Sabalenka is not acting with the confidence we saw last year.

What went wrong in Madrid: Those double faults returned to her game (eight), and Anisimova broke her serve five times on the road to victory 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

Why Rome could provide a spark: Sabalenka’s history in Rome is not great. She won just one match in three appearances, falling to Coco Gauff in last year’s round of 16. But if you are following Sabalenka’s career, you know that her success can be turned into a coin. Last year in Rome she came from consecutive final appearances in Stuttgart and Madrid and played her 13th match in 25 days. Sabalenka greets in the first round in Rome and plays with wildcard winner Martin Trevisan and Zhang Shuai.

no.7 Karolina Pliškova

2022 record: 2-5

Worrying statistics: Pliškova played only 17 sets of competitive tennis this year after an accident at the gym out of season that resulted in a broken arm. After spending the Australian summer, she turned 30 in March and lost her first matches back in Indian Wells and Miami, to Danka Kovinic and Anne Kalinskaya.

Madrid: Bouzkova upset her compatriot Pliškova over her fifth victory in the Top 10 in her career

Madrid 2022

What went wrong in Madrid: She ran into her Czech counterpart, Marie Bouzkova, who had two wins in qualifying and scored 6-4, 7-5 in the first round. Pliškova’s service was constantly under threat and in the end it was broken four times.

Why Rome could provide a spark: She loves this place. Pliskova was actually in the last three finals at Foro Italico, winning the title in 2019 and losing to Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek in 2020 and 2021. That’s a 13-2 result in the last three years, a comforting thought as the 2021 Wimbledon finalist tries shake off the rust. The best way to do that is to win matches. The first, after greetings, comes against Madrid semi-finalist winners Jil Teichmann and Jasmine Paolini.

No.9 Garbiñe Muguruza

2022 record: 6-6

Worrying statistics: Muguruza has won only one consecutive match this year, when she reached the quarterfinals in Doha. She played just three matches in two months, following a left shoulder injury.

What went wrong in Madrid: After beating Ajla Tomljanović in the first round, Muguruza lost to 37th tennis player Angelina Kalinina 6-3, 6-0 – in 75 minutes. She won just 56 percent of her first serves, 36 percent of her seconds and was 0-for-6 on break chances.

Why Rome could provide a spark: Like Pliškova, this will be a welcome change of location. While Madrid – the biggest stage for the Spanish player – is shaking her nerves, Rome is an extremely happy place for Muguruza. She was a semifinalist in 2016, 2017 and 2020. She was 19 in 2013 when she won two qualifying matches before losing in the second round to Maria Sharapova. Muguruza’s overall record is a sparkling 16-8. The first after the greeting is the winner between the two qualifiers.

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