Schedule of play:
Ana Ivanovic vs. Maria Sharapova
Stuttgart's final came early as these 2 clash again in the 3rd round. Ana took a set off Maria in Stuttgart, but Sharapova steadied the ship and won the match eventually. Will Ana finish the job this time? It's a tough task for the Serbian as Sharapova is playing the best clay court tennis on tour now. 11 matches on this surface so far and undefeated. Still, I think Ana can make this match interesting, but she will falter when it matters.
Pick: Sharapova in 3 sets
Samantha Stosur vs. Li Na
Li Na meets her nemesis Samantha Stosur, who she has never beaten before in 6 meetings. Looks like Stosur will extend the winning streak against the Chinese here on her preferred surface. Stosur's game is unique, so it's either you can handle her spins, or you can't. Sharapova has mastered Stosur's game, while players like Cibulkova and Li just cannot handle the Aussie's quirky game. I don't know what else Li can do except hope that Stosur has an off day.
Pick: Stosur in 2 sets
Francesca Schiavone vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
After a wildly fluctuating year, Schiavone finally gets her act together in Rome, her home country. She will be lifted by the Italian crowd that's for sure, but it will take a lot more to overcome the crafty Radwanska. Agnieszka has been playing the best clay court tennis of her career so far, reaching the latter stages of the red clay tournaments. I don't think she's that susceptible to early exits on clay anymore. That said, Schiavone can bank on her superior clay court experience to mix things up. If she can unsettle the calm Pole, she can have another huge upset. Still think Agnieszka's too steady to be rattled though.
Pick: Radwanska in 2 tight sets
Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Sara Errani, Agnieszka Radwanska
Upset alert: Zhang Shuai, Li Na, Jelena Jankovic