Fixture: (13) Jennifer Brady vs Zhang Shuai
Date: 10 May 2021
Tournament: Internazionali BNL d’italia 2021
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: $1,835,490
Live telecast: USA – Tennis Channel | UK – Amazon Prime Video
Jennifer Brady vs Zhang Shuai preview
13th seed Jennifer Brady will begin her Italian Open campaign with a first-round match against World No. 44 Zhang Shuai.
Brady managed to turn things around at Madrid after going through a mini-slump following her runner-up finish at the Australian Open. The World No. 14 made it to the Round of 16 in the Spanish capital, on the back of commanding wins over Major winners Venus Williams and Jelena Ostapenko.
Brady was only stopped by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who put up a gutsy performance in a thrilling three-setter to send the American packing.
With a few days of rest, Brady will now be hoping to come out all guns blazing in Rome as she continues to build momentum on clay.
A former World No. 23, Zhang Shuai made a superb run on the red dirt last year, reaching the quarterfinals at Strasbourg and the fourth round at Roland Garros. But she has struggled mightily since then, falling in the first round of her last six tournaments.
The Chinese is severely short on confidence right now, and it goes without saying that she would have an uphill task taming a resurgent Brady in Rome.
Jennifer Brady vs Zhang Shuai head-to-head
Jennifer Brady has a flawless 2-0 lead over Zhang Shuai in the head-to-head, having won both their meetings in straight sets.
Their last showdown took place at Nottingham in 2019, where the American notched up a 7-5, 6-3 win.
Jennifer Brady vs Zhang Shuai prediction
Zhang Shuai’s faltering serve has been the key reason for her ongoing slump, and that doesn’t bode well for her chances against an aggressive returner like Jennifer Brady.
Even against Elise Mertens in her Madrid opener last week, Zhang got only 58.2% of her first serves in, and won a meager 46.9% of those points. If she doesn’t correct those numbers against Brady, it could well lead to her seventh straight loss on the tour.
The American won’t hesitate to strike big blows with her powerful groundstrokes, especially after having found her rhythm and range back. Zhang does have a strong return game, but against an efficient server like Brady, that likely won’t be of much use.
Prediction: Jennifer Brady to win in straight sets.