WTA Rome: Winners and losers from Internazionali BNL d'Italia

WTA Rome: Winners and losers from Internazionali BNL d'Italia

Another WTA tournament on the road to Roland Garros had a few of the top seeds falling by the wayside before the quarterfinals stage but it was Serena Williams who showed the WTA tour how its done.

tevon-king
Tevon King

Another important WTA tournament on the road to the second major of the year, Roland Garros, a few of the top seeded players will be worried about their chances as like what happened in the previous week at the Mutua Madrid Open, players fell by the wayside before the quarterfinal stage. It was Serena Williams who came out in top and her compatriot Madison Keys who played in a fantastic final showed their colleagues how its done. Now the biggest stop on the tour before the French Open begins is finished, we look back at the winners and the losers from the Italian capital.

Winners:

Serena Williams: The world number one Serena Williams has had a strange start in the first quarter of the 2016 WTA season, she lost in the Australian Open final to Angelique Kerber in three high quality sets and she suffered another loss in a final a couple of months later at the BNP Paribas Open to Victoria Azarenka in straight sets, which was her fourth loss in a final to her rival.

Williams' third tournament of the year was at the Miami Open, a tournament she has dominated and won a record eight times. The American came into the tournament in the Sunshine State as the three-time defending champion but she lost in the fourth round to Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets.

It was Rome, where things finally began to click for Williams, she did suffer from slow starts in her matches against Christina McHale and Madison Keys but she showed why she is the world number one and it was her desire that got her out of trouble. She breezed past Anna-Lena Friedsam in her opening match, McHale in the third round and she got revenge from that loss to Kuznetsova in Miami by crushing her  6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.

The world number one defeated the in-form Irina-Camelia Begu in the semifinals and she defeated Madison Keys in the final to win her 70th WTA career title and first since last year in August at the Western and Southern Open.

Things are certainly looking brighter for Williams, as she will be on her quest for her 22nd Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, she will be the defending champion at that event next week.

Serena Williams hoisting the trophy above her head after her victory over Madison Keys (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Serena Williams hoisting the trophy above her head after her victory over Madison Keys (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Madison Keys: Keys was playing in her sixth event of 2016, and this was the second time that she made the quarterfinals or better. The American was a semifinalist at the Australian Open last year and a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last year.

Unfortunately for Keys, the start of 2016 was poor as she made the fourth round of the Australian Open but she sustained an injury during her match with the fairytale of the tournament, Zhang Shuai.

Jesse Levine and former three-time French Open champion Mats Wilander had brief stints as her coach for the earlier quarter of the year but Thomas Högstedt is her current coach.

Keys was unseeded in Rome and she has picked up some fine wins en route to the final. She defeated 2014 French Open semifinalist Andrea Petkovic, fifth seed Petra Kvitova and Timea Babos, all dangerous players and defeated them in straight sets. In the quarterfinals, Keys battled past Barbora Strycova in three sets, a player she comprehensively beat last week in Madrid in straight sets.

Keys' most impressive win was against Garbiñe Muguruza, she dispatched the established clay-courter in straight sets in the semifinals. Whilst she reached the final in Rome and fell a little short against Williams in the final, things are looking bright for Keys and she could put a good run at the French Open and beyond.

Madison Keys in action against Serena Williams during the Women's Singles Final (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Madison Keys in action against Serena Williams during the Women's Singles Final (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Irina-Camelia Begu: The Romanian is having a good clay court season ahead of the French Open and she has picked up some fine wins on the red dirt. 

Begu reached the quarterfinals at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, where she defeated the dangerous Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia,  one half of last year's French Open doubles champions Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Monica Puig in three sets before falling to the defending champion Angelique Kerber.

Last week in Madrid, the Romanian number two was able to pick up some more impressive wins by defeating former Wimbledon finalists Eugenie Bouchard and third seed Muguruza in three sets but she lost to the eventual champion Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.

Begu was impressive in Rome as she took advantage of a weakened draw and she continued to deliver more scalps as she defeated fourth seed Victoria Azarenka in the second round and WTA rising star Daria Kasatkina in the following round before losing to Williams in the semifinals.

The Romanian has had an impressive clay court season and she should fancy her chances at the French Open as a dark horse as she knows that she can beat the top players and push the top players which should give her great confidence.

Irina-Camelia Begu in action Serena Williams (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Irina-Camelia Begu in action Serena Williams on Day Seven of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Garbiñe Muguruza: The Spaniard has had a poor start to 2016, after she had an amazing 2015 where she reached a career high ranking of three, made her maiden grand slam final at Wimbledon along with another French Open quarterfinal berth but 2016 has been a totally different story.

Muguruza lost in the third round of the Australian Open to Barbora Strycova and she suffered first round exits to Elina Svitolina at the Qatar Total Open and to Christina McHale at the BNP Paribas Open.

The Spaniard showed some signs of improvement in Miami, where she played her best match of the year at the time against Nicole Gibbs, everything was clicking for Muguruza and she simply could do no wrong. Her fourth round match with Azarenka was quality and the Spaniard was beaten in two close  tie-break sets.

Muguruza lost to Kvitova in the quarterfinals at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and followed this by suffering another early exit to Begu in Madrid.

However in Rome, she has peaked at the right time and she reached her first semifinal of the year, defeating former top ten player Ekaterina MakarovaJelena Ostapenko and last year's French Open semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky. She fell to Keys in the semifinals but Muguruza is playing good clay court tennis and she would like to improve on her two quarterfinal runs at Roland Garros next week.

Garbine Muguruza in action against Madison Keys in the semifinals (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Garbine Muguruza in action against Madison Keys in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Losers:

Victoria Azarenka: The Belarusian has had a resurgent start to the year by reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and completing the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami along with reclaiming a spot in the top four, Azarenka's clay court form so far has been below par.

The former world number one defeated Alizé Cornet and Laura Robson in her opening two matches in Madrid but withdrew before her third round clash with Louisa Chrico due to a back injury. Azarenka played in Rome but was clearly still hampered with that back injury and she lost in straight sets to Begu. Clay isn't the best surface for Azarenka although she has reached the semifinals at Roland Garros before back in 2013 and she now has a race against time to be fully fit.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action against Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action against Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Angelique Kerber: Another disappointing setback for the Australian Open champion, Kerber lost to Eugenie Bouchard for her second consecutive first round exit at two big tournaments in Madrid and Rome.

The German has seemingly found it difficult to cope with the added pressures of being a grand slam champion and she had poor results in February and March although she did reach the semifinals in Miami losing to Azarenka.

Kerber won her second title of the year at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix defeating her compatriot and surprise finalist Laura Siegemund in the final.

Failing to have deep runs in Madrid and Rome makes it extremely difficult for the German to have any chances of reaching the second week in Paris but with hardly expectation of her winning the title, Kerber might fancy her chances.

Angelique Kerber of Germany in action against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Angelique Kerber of Germany in action against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Petra Kvitová: Another top seed who has been underperforming in 2016 and during the clay court swing is Kvitová. The Czech failed to defend her title in Madrid by crashing out to Daria Gavrilova in the third round and she lost to Madison Keys in her first match here. Clay isn't the Czech's best surface but she has had some good results on it. Kvitová's best run at the French Open was the semifinals losing to the eventual champion Maria Sharapova in straight sets. The Czech is no longer with her long time coach David Kotyza and the poor results that the two-time Wimbledon champion has suffered has led to her dropping out of the top ten for the first time since September 2013. 

The Czech is capable of shocking the world by putting in a good two weeks at a slam and becoming a grand slam champion for the third time is on the Czech's mind but her game will need to step up big time.

Petra Kvitova in action against Madison Keys (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Petra Kvitova in action against Madison Keys (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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