Simona Halep is the current market favourite, at 7.00, leading the way from Elina Svitolina, at 8.60, and these two players are the only ones in single-digit pricing, with Maria Sharapova, Jelena Ostapenko, Garbine Muguruza, Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova all priced between 10.00 and 20.00.

Kvitova, Halep, Svitolina and Bertens with data ahead of the rest

In advance of this preview, I assessed around 50 contenders, and looked at their data from both 2018 in isolation, and across the last 18 months (last clay season and this), and this data was very revealing. Looking specifically at players who could boast combined service/return points won percentages in excess of 105% for both this year and in the last 18 months, enabled me to draw up a shortlist of main contenders.
These filtered players were Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens - three players at the forefront of the market, and the market gamble in Bertens, who has been very impressive again on clay this season.

Mertens and Giorgi long-shots who have had good clay season

Other players who have had a good clay season (greater than 105%) this year also included Elise Mertens, Karolina Pliskova and Camila Giorgi, and with both Mertens 48.00 and Giorgi 300.00 further down the list of contenders, there could be some decent outsider value, assuming they receive a kind draw on Thursday. Some other lower-profile players who may provide some value, but are a little further down on my data, include Irina Begu, Anastasija Sevastova, Anett Kontaveit, Marketa Vondrousova and Petra Martic.

Ostapenko and Muguruza out of touch this year on clay

Conversely, some players who are nearer the top of the market include defending champion Jelena Ostapenko and Garbine Muguruza, whose clay data is unimpressive this season, while it is impossible to give a prediction on the level of Victoria Azarenka (who was never particularly adept on clay prior to her absence from the tour) or Serena Williams. I suspect attending the Royal Wedding last Saturday, as opposed to competing in Rome, may not be ideal preparation for the younger Williams sister.

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