WTA Rio Final Preview: Shelby Rogers - Francesca Schiavone

WTA Rio Final Preview: Shelby Rogers - Francesca Schiavone

Shelby Rogers will play Francesca Schiavone for the title at the International level 2016 Rio Open.

jake-fletcher
Jake Fletcher

Both ranked outside the top 100, Shelby Rogers and Francesca Schiavone will contest the final at the Rio Open, held on the red clay courts in Brazil.

Recent Results

Rogers is participating in her first WTA level main draw of the year after posting some impressive results on the ITF circuit. The American reached the semifinals at both Wesley Chapel, Florida and Midland, Texas recently, continuing her form this week on her debut in Rio.

The 23-year-old has dropped just the one set all week against home player Paula Cristina Goncalves in the quarterfinals, winning 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. In the semifinals, she defeated the former top 30 player Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-4.

Schiavone failed to reach her sixty-second successive Grand Slam main draw when she lost in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open. The Italian opted to play Rio due to the surface, despite the fact she failed to win a match on her only previous visit in 2014 when she was the second seed.

The 35-year-old has had to survive some desperately close matches this week, barely edging Mariana Duque-Marino 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 and Cindy Burger 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-3. Thankfully given the tough conditions in Rio, Schiavone had a simpler semifinal win against Petra Martic 6-3, 6-3.

Rogers jumping into a forehand. Source: Getty Images/Joe Scarnici

Past Experience

This will be Rogers second final appearance after losing as a qualifier on the high altitude clay in Bad Gastein 2014. There the former world number 70 accounted for the likes of Carla Suarez Navarro and Sara Errani before losing to Andrea Petkovic. Now ranked down at 131 in the world, Rogers is probably best remembered for her stunning 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 upset of the then ranked number eight Eugenie Bouchard before the Canadian's home crowd in Montreal 2014, just weeks after she'd lost the Wimbledon final. 

In contrast, Schiavone has sampled the high life and was once ranked as highly as number four in the world back in 2011. Though she's 'only' won six of the 17 finals she's contested, few could forget the moment when she became the first female Italian Grand Slam singles champion at the French Open in 2010, beating the heavy favorite Samantha Stosur in the final. Now ranked down at 132, Schiavone is bidding to win her first title since Marrakesh in 2013, which incidentally was the last time she appeared in a final.

Head-to-Head

The two have never met before but considering Schiavone's record on clay with five of her six career titles coming on the surface, she has to be given the edge.

Though she struggled earlier in the week with the high bounce of the balls and the extreme heat, the Italian has since adapted and will no doubt use her heavy topspin for optimum success.

As a strong and solid baseliner, Rogers will no doubt look to break Schiavone down as she's done all week against less experienced opposition. The American's backhand is particularly good and she must look to use it whenever possible to avoid long baseline rallies in the heat.

One of the few women to play with a one-handed backhand, Schiavone's versatility and high levels of fitness should give her a good shot at winning the title.

Prediction: Francesca Schiavone in three sets

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