Maria Sharapova will contest the third tournament of her comeback having already participated in both WTA Stuttgart and WTA Madrid. The Russian won at least one match in each of those events, making the semifinals in the former and the 2nd round in the latter. In the upcoming tournament from Rome, Sharapova looks set for a Deep Run given that she has a very workable draw.

Sharapova opens against McHale

The Russian, who has made headlines of late as she returns from a 15-month ban, will face Christina McHale in the tournament's first round. That should be a win for Sharapova as McHale is clearly not the accomplished player that the Russian is.

Surviving that match, Sharapova would face either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or Lucie Safarova. Safarova in particular might prove to be a difficult out as she has made the French Open final one time in the past. Hence, she certainly has the potential to do some damage on clay. However, Safarova isn't quite the same player that she was a couple of seasons ago. I think most would have Sharapova likely winning that potential match and advancing to at least the third round.

Sharapova could face Kerber

When it comes to that point in the draw, one potential opponent would be Angelique Kerber. The German is the top seed and back to the World No. 1 ranking. However, Kerber is the World No. 1 that no one is afraid to face.

She hasn't won a tournament since originally claiming top spot on tour. Furthermore, clay has never been her best surface. Sharapova might actually like being in Kerber's section of the draw given the German's slump.

Deep-round speculation might see Sharapova contest a quarterfinal with Simona Halep.

The Romanian just won Madrid and most will surely see a hot player on tour. However, if Halep was to make the Rome quarterfinals she would certainly be very fatigued. For that reason, perhaps WTA Rome will feature an All-Russian semifinal between Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The latter, a one-time French Open champion, made a nice run to the Madrid semifinals.

She has garnered some attention of late and may give Sharapova a run for her money should the two players meet.

The women's final will take place on May 21st. With the French Open to start later this month, Rome is one of the final events for players to get fully prepared for a deep run at Roland Garros. As is the case with a lot of women's events on tour that don't feature Serena Williams, WTA Rome is wide open. Elina Svitolina appears to be dangerous on the bottom half of the draw in a field that lacks a heavy favorite.

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