WTA Rome semifinal preview: Serena Williams - Irina-Camelia Begu

WTA Rome semifinal preview: Serena Williams - Irina-Camelia Begu

World number one Serena Williams got her revenge against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals and will play surprise semifinalist Irina-Camelia Begu for a place in Sunday's Internazionali BNL d'Italia final.

tevon-king
Tevon King

World number one and three-time Internazionali BNL d'Italia champion Serena Williams dispatched ninth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-0 in 51 minutes. She will take on the unseeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, who's fantastic run on clay is continuing.

How they got here

Williams is showing some good form on the red dirt before her French Open title defense begins later on this month. She has not dropped a set to reach the semifinal stage in Rome. She defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam, her compatriot Christina McHale and Svetlana Kuznetsova en route. Williams will be happy to have conserved energy and she is the firm favorite to win the title in Rome for a fourth time.

On the other side of the net will be Irina-Camelia Begu. Begu has guaranteed herself a seeding at the French Open, which she will be pleased with. Her route to the semifinals certainly hasn't been easy and. Begu, like Williams, has not dropped a set throughout the tournament. In her first round match, she thrashed Margarita Gasparyan 6-3, 6-0 which set up a glamorous second-round match with fourth seed Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka may have been suffering from a back injury which caused her to withdraw in Madrid but the Romanian still served well and played the big points brilliantly, earning the victory regardless of Azarenka's state. Begu upset Azarenka 6-3, 6-2 and with Karolina Pliskova and Lucie Safarova getting knocked out by Russian Daria Kasatkina and Misaki Doi, the draw opened up and Begu seized the opportunity by knocking out Kasatkina and Doi in back-to-back rounds.

Begu's clay court form

Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania plays a backhand in her match against Misaki Doi of Japan on Day Six of The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2016 on May 13, 2016 in Rome, Italy (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Irina-Camelia Begu plays a backhand in her match against Misaki Doi (Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)

Begu is currently ranked 35th in the world but as it stands she is projected to move up to 28th, not far from her career high ranking of 25. If the Romanian wins the title in the Eternal City, she will move up to 24 in the world, which will be her new career high ranking.

Begu lost in the quarterfinals in Charleston to reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber and she lost to her compatriot and eventual champion at the Mutua Madrid Open, Simona Halep, at the quarterfinal stage.

It has been a good few weeks for Begu and she is definitely a dark horse to watch at the French Open, since she has beaten some of the top players and she gets good results on clay.

Head-to-head

This contest will be the first meeting between Williams and Begu. Both players have not dropped a set to reach this stage and they are both playing good tennis. Begu should certainly not feel overwhelmed by the occasion as she has beaten Williams' projected semifinal opponent Azarenka in the tournament. 

Serena Williams poses with the French Open trophy on the Pont Bir Hakeim, in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Williams beat Maria Sharapova in 2 sets. ( Source: PacificCoastNews.com)
Serena Williams poses with the French Open trophy on the Pont Bir Hakeim, in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Williams beat Maria Sharapova in 2 sets. ( Source: PacificCoastNews.com)

Who wins?

Williams is the overwhelming favorite to win this match and the whole tournament, so she will have more pressure coming into this match and she sometimes starts matches slowly. Begu is a very good returner and could take advantage if Williams' serve has deserted her. It will be their first meeting so it could take each other a little while to read the opponent's game and once they are settled in, it should be a cracking encounter.

Begu has done extremely well to get to this stage of the tournament and she will be very happy to get this far. She will come into this match being able to swing freely as all eyes will be on Williams. This match could be a good one, but Williams should come out on top as the American will be desperate for her first title since last August, which will be a confidence booster before the French Open begins.

It should be an entertaining match on Centre Court and they are scheduled not before 5pm local time (12pm EST). 

Prediction: Williams in three sets

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