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By Rohit Sharma
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The 2010 Internazionali BNL D'Italia brings with it a much awaited return of WTA superstar Serena Williams who gets back into action on Roman Clay for another title triumph. Williams, the 2002 champion fights off several past winners in the draw including names like Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and elder sister Venus Williams.
World No.1 Serena Williams has been given a tough half of the draw. Williams road to semifinals is considerably difficult with her first big hurdle coming in the name of Vera Zvonareva in the pre-quarterfinals. Although, the road actually gets tougher from here on as a possible quarterfinal clash with either Svetlana Kuznetsova or an in-form Samantha Stosur may produce unexpected results. Both Kuznetsova and Stosur have beaten Williams and the Australian has had the best two weeks beore coming to Rome. If all goes as per the seedings, an all-Williams semifinal is set in Rome, which brings us to the next equation - the bottom half of the draw featuring Venus Williams.
Venus, the 1999 champion, hasn't found the kind of form that she requires to go all the way in a claycourt event. Depsite her recent fine performance on South American clay in Acapulco (won the title defeating Polona Hercog), its is unlikely to see her lift the winner's trophy this year as well. Williams will have to fend off the challenge of players like Shahar Peer in pre-quarterfinals and two time champion Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals.
The bottom half of the draw is most favourable for second seed Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane's biggest challenge before the quarterfinals can come in the form of Jie Zheng, and if her game favours her too, a possible quarterfinal clash with longtime friend Agnieszka Radwanska.
And finally the top quarter of the second half - the Russian quarter, which features three of the most dangerous players in the circuit - Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Nadia Petrova. Safina is most likely to play Petrova in the pre-quarterfinals and the winner can have a possible clash with sixth seed Elena Dementieva. However, Dementieva's biggest challenge is the feisty Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, who can prove too much to handle for all the other players in this quarter of the draw.
Last year, Dinara Safina defied all odds and justified her top billing to clinch victory on Roman clay. Her win over Venus Williams is considered by many as the Russian's finest performance to date. Despite a long injury layoff since January, the former world number one is all set to put her best game together and successfully defend the title that strengthened her position on top of the world in 2009. Similar lines can be written about Serena Williams too. Serena was a woman on a mission in Australia, and if she carries the same attitude and game plan to the European clay, she will be unstoppable.
Follow the nail-biting action happening on the red clay of Foro Italico with TennisEarth.com and get the minute-by-minute updates of the 2010 Internazionali BNL D'Italia.
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