Some of the first-round action at the 2021 WTA Palermo Open will see Maddison Inglis take on Giulia Gatto-Monticone and Leonie Kung play Natalia Vikhlyantseva. Get the live streaming options along the predictions, preview, and head to head for these matches along with Astra Sharma v Lucrezia Stefanini and Zhang Shuai v Cristina Bucsa.
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Maddison Inglis v Giulia Gatto-Monticone Preview
World No. 138 Maddison Inglis will play home hope Giulia Gatto-Monticone, ranked 184th in the world in the first round of the 2021 Palermo Ladies Open. These two players have not played at any level before their scheduled Monday match.
Inglis was soundly beaten by Tereza Smitkova – a player ranked at No. 478 in the world – at the Prague Open last week. In 2021, she has won two main draw matches across seven WTA tour tournaments.
Gatto-Monticone, on her part, hasn’t fared any better. Due to her lower-ranking status, the Italian does not warrant a main draw spot at most WTA tour tournaments. She has been limited to a host of ITF appearances and qualifiers which has seen her register double-digit wins.
At tour level, Gatto-Monticone has recorded a solitary win that came in Bogota, beating Astra Sharma at the start of April.
This is a meeting between two players who have not touched the top 100 before. We should expect a cagey affair of extremely low quality. The Italian has remained slightly competitive at least beating the higher-ranked Australian in Sharma, and starts as a marginal favorite.
Inglis v Gatto-Monticone Tip
Gatto-Monticone to win: 8/11 (bet365)
Leonie Kung v Natalia Vikhlyantseva Preview
This will be another first-time meeting in Palermo between the 157th-ranked Leonie Kung of Switzerland and former World No. 54 Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia. Both players are alternates in the main draw after withdrawals by Sorana Cirstea and Arantxa Rus respectively.
Kung has posted a 12-20 record across all tours (featuring predominantly on the ITF and qualifying rounds of WTA events).
Vikhlyantseva, meanwhile, enjoyed a productive week in Lausanne in which mastered two upset wins against Katarina Zavastska and Jasmine Paolini en route to the quarterfinals. The week in Switzerland was huge for her confidence and momentum. Incidentally, it was the first time she had won a tour-level match since the 2019 edition of the same tournament.
Kung has actually tasted success on the doubles court after winning in Bastad alongside Mirjam Bjorklund. But it is Vikhlyantseva who is the clear favorite here, owing to her big-hitting and her recent renaissance last week.
Kung v Vikhlyantseva Tip
Under 19.5 games: 5/6 (bet365)
Astra Sharma v Lucrezia Stefanini Preview
Seventh-seeded Australian Astra Sharma will tackle Italian wild card Lucrezia Stefanini in what promises to be an intriguing first-round match in Palermo. Both players have never faced each other before this.
Sharma comes into this contest on the back of a career-best season which yielded a maiden WTA title on the green clay of Charleston. But things have not been rosy for the World No. 128 who hasn’t made it past the second round at any WTA tournament since then.
The Aussie was beaten in three sets by Caroline Garcia in her most recent outing in Lausanne.
Opponent Lucrezia Stefanini will be making her debut appearance at her home tournament. Still only 23, Stefanini features heavily on the lower rungs of the WTA circuit. She has reached two ITF finals in 2021, winning the Salinas title in Colombia in mid-May.
We still fancy the Aussie to win quite comfortably, but home advantage cannot be discounted in this one.
Sharma v Stefanini Tip
Stefanini to win a set: 1/2 (bet365)
Zhang Shuai v Cristina Bucsa Preview
Zhang Shuai, seeded fourth, will face World No. 160 Cristina Bucsa of Spain for the first time at tour level. Bucsa was a late replacement for Patricia Maria Tig who withdrew from the tournament.
Zhang has managed to turn her season around after a dreadful stretch in the opening quarter saw her suffer seven successive first-round exits. Having lost the final two matches of her 2020 season, that winless run stood at nine matches towards the end of May.
But the Chinese World No. 60 took care of Japan’s Misaki Doi in Strasbourg to bring much-needed relief and a first win since last autumn’s French Open.
While Zhang would lose her next two matches including the first round of Roland Garros this year, she was colossal on grass. Zhang reached the finals of Nottingham losing only to Johanna Konta. At Wimbledon, luck was certainly not on her side as she drew a tough opener in the form of Karolina Muchova.
Bucsa, on her part, comes into this encounter on the back of moderate success on the ITF circuit which includes a semifinal showing in Montpellier at the start of July. The 23-year-old Spaniard should be a little more adapted to the surface than the Chinese veteran and has a history of troubling established tour-level campaigners this season.
Zhang v Bucsa Tip
Bucsa to win: 10/11 (bet365)