On paper, the WTA No. 169 vs. the WTA No. 69 might not seem enticing, but this match has drama written all over it. On Monday, Sara Errani showed us exactly why she is the tour’s active leader in clay-court wins with her thrilling three-hour upset over Sorana Cirstea. Just like Rafael Nadal or David Ferrer, Errani plays every point like it's her last. As Billie Jean King says, “persistence is a talent.” That talent has won Errani 179 clay court matches and counting.
Errani’s serve, arguably the most attackable on tour, hasn’t done her any favors, yet still she finds a way to win despite it. Sometimes her serving woes become so dire that she resorts to the underhand serve, and not as a surprise tactic.
Errani’s opponent, Kristyna Pliskova, made good use of her extended hiatus. The six-foot tall Czech, who played nine exhibition matches on clay this summer, comfortably defeated third-seeded Maria Sakkari, 6-4, 6-4. Pliskova will look to attack Errani’s serve every chance she gets, but defeating the Italian on clay is never easy. Once Errani gets the point started she is a nightmare to play. Even with a fast-falling ranking, Errani is always among the WTA’s leaders in percentage of return points won.
If Pliskova plays as well as she did against Sakkari, she could dust Errani off the court with her easy power and sliding lefty serve. But if any nerves kick in, we should be in for a treat. The oddsmakers believe Pliskova should win, but they’ve been wrong all week in Palermo. Errani is a far cry from her 2013 self, where she peaked at No. 5 in the world, but every time she takes the court it’s an honor to watch her compete.
The Pick: Pliskova