Three to See, Rome Semis: Isner-Zverev; will Muguruza and Halep meet?

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Simona Halep won her ninth straight match to make the Rome final. (AP)

Simona Halep vs. Kiki Bertens

We’ve been wondering which WTA contenders might begin to round into form as the French Open approaches, but few of us had Bertens being one of them. Maybe we should have. She reached the semifinals in Paris last year, and she beat Daria Gavrilova on Friday to reach the semis in Rome this weekend. But there she’ll face a woman who has been even sharper of late; Halep has parlayed her title in Madrid into another deep run in Rome. Bertens will have the advantage in terms of power and physicality, but when Halep turns things around, she usually keeps them turned for a few weeks, or longer. Winner: Halep

Alexander Zverev vs. John Isner

Facing Isner is a rite of passage and a lesson in patience. So far Zverev has passed the test. The 20-year-old German has beaten the 32-year-old American in both of their meetings; the last one, a three-tiebreaker affair in Miami last month, required all of the young player’s mental reserves, and a few of his most spectacular shots. Both of these guys are surprise—though not shock—semifinalists in Rome, which means they’ve been at their best all week. More tiebreakers would seem to be in order on Saturday. After all of the talk about the ATP’s NextGen this week in Italy, where a year-end rising-stars tournament will be held for the first time this fall, a win by Zverev would seem to be as well. Winner: Zverev

Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Elina Svitolina

Last year Muguruza gave us an off-Broadway preview of her French Open title run when she reached the semis in Rome. Are we getting another in 2017? We know she can go very very good, or very very bad, with little warning. First things first, though. Muguruza won her last meeting with Svitolina, in Indian Wells in March, but the Ukrainian had won their three previous matches. Whoever wins this one will get a head start down the stretch run to Roland Garros. Winner: Muguruza

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