Wednesday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia was absolutely hectic with all 32 remaining singles players competing in the second round. Our photographer Jimmie48 got his feet tired walking at the venue of the WTA 1000 event, but the result is that we have a lot of exclusive photos from the busy tennis day in Rome.
Competing for the first time since the Australian Open, Serena Williams lost to 2020 Roland Garros semifinalist Nadia Podoroska 7-6(6) 7-5. This was one of many special occasions in Williams’ tennis résumé, as she was playing the 1000th match of her career.
The eighth-seeded Williams recovered from a break down twice in the first set and then saved three set points in the tiebreak before succumbing to Podoroska. The world No.44 then built a 5-2 lead in the second set and even though she failed to serve out the match as the four-time Rome champion Williams broke her at love, the Argentine finished the job in the twelfth game on the American’s serve.
As usual, Williams sported a bold Nike outfit: a short-sleeved top tied in a knot below chest and a tiered pleated skirt. The exact ensemble can be purchased at Tennis Warehouse: the Nike Summer Advantage Pleated Skirt and Nike Summer Advantage Top in elemental pink. Here are a few more action photos of Serena.
Coming off a title run at Stuttgart and runner-up finish at Madrid, world No.1 Ashleigh Barty overcame Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4 6-1 to reach the last 16. The Australian has won a Tour-leading 26 matches in 2021.
The 33-year-old Shvedova is currently ranked No.665 and she entered the main draw on a protected ranking. Her first-round win over Martina Trevisan was her first in the main draw of a WTA tournament since her comeback last season, after surgery and the birth of her twins.
On her main-draw debut in Rome, Jessica Pegula recorded the biggest win of her career by ranking with a 7-6(2) 6-2 upset of second seed Naomi Osaka. The world No.31 Pegula saved three set points in the first set and converted four of her five break points to record her fifth Top 10 win of the year.
Talking about her strategy, the 27-year-old said:
I know she doesn’t love clay, so I just tried to be the clay court player out there today, and it worked just good enough.
In an interview with the WTA Insider, Pegula explained her relationship with clay:
I know I’m not really a clay court player, but I did grow up on green clay when I was younger in the States, so I’m not too unfamiliar with it. It’s been a while since I really played a lot on clay. I just played the French Open last year, and that was the only clay court tournament. It’s kind of taken me longer than I thought to kind of get used to it again, but I’m starting to find my range.
Seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka continues the form that took her to the Madrid Open title a few days ago with a 7-5 6-1 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Seed No.15 Iga Swiatek saved three set points and won ten of the last 11 games to defeat Madison Keys 7-5 6-1 and set up a meeting with Barbora Krejcikova who stunned fourth seed Sofia Kenin 6-1 6-4.
Fifth seed Elina Svitolina recovered from a set down to dismiss Amanda Anisimova 2-6 6-3 6-4.
Ninth seed Karolina Pliskova cruised past Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 6-3.
After winning nine straight games to claim her first win in Rome since 2008 against Christina McHale in the first round, veteran Vera Zvonareva proceeded to upset 11th seed Petra Kvitova 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the second round.
Following the loss, Kvitova posted on Twitter:
You win some, you lose some, you live and you learn. Not going to be too hard on myself today. Hazelnut gelato always helps!
At night, defending champion Simona Halep was forced to retire at 6-1 3-3 against fellow Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber because of a very painful left calf tear.
After the examination of her problem, Halep said:
I will get an MRI tomorrow to understand the injury in more detail, but at the moment we are unsure of recovery time.
Kerber was worried and sat next to Halep as the Romanian was receiving treatment for her leg.
Third-round action is scheduled for Thursday. Stay with Women’s Tennis Blog as we bring you more exclusive photo coverage from the 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.