Qualifiers have been placed in the draw, and the main draw action is about to begin in Rome. The tournament is being played in a brand new stadium, which can seat 10,500 people.
Former Italian Open champions who play this week include Dinara Safina (2009), Jelena Jankovic (2008, 2007), Kim Clijsters (2003), Serena Williams (2002), and Venus Williams (1999). Wild cards are held by Serena Williams, Romina Oprandi, Corrina Dentoni, and Maria Elena Camerin.
Here are some interesting first round matches:
Samantha Stosur vs. Dominika Cibulkova: Stosur, the 10th seed, may be a bit tired from her week in Stuttgart. On the other hand, Cibulkova hasn't played much lately; she had to withdraw from some clay tournaments because of an injury.
Gisela Dulko vs. Patty Schnyder: Though Schnyder is obviously winding down her career, Rome has always been a good venue for her. Both she and Dulko are capable of playing very well on clay, and both produce inconsistent results.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Melanie Oudin: USA Fed Cup team members, who just celebrated their run to the final, now have to be opponents in Rome. Mattek-Sands is a qualifier, so she has already played two matches in the new stadium. The winner gets two-time champion Jelena Jankovic.
Lucie Safarova vs. Olga Govortsova: This has the potential to be one of those good--and perhaps long-- matches that doesn't get much attention.
Francesca Schiavone vs. Daniela Hantuchova: Oh, dear--one of them has to go out in the first round.
2009 champion Dinara Safina will probably play Sara Errani in the second round, so she'll have her work cut out for her.
The doubles draw features a number of excellent teams, including the top seeds:
1. Liezel Huber & Nadia Petrova
2. Nuria Llagostera Vives & Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
3. Cara Black & Elena Vesnina
4. Betanie Mattek-Sands & Yan Zi