Caroline Garcia vs Sloane Stephens live streaming, preview and tips: Garcia and Stephens face off for the first time on clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Hannah Wilks in WTA 17 May 2018
  • Seventh seed Caroline Garcia takes on world no. 10 Sloane Stephens in the third round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia
  • Garcia vs Stephens Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is live from Rome on Thursday at 6pm local/5pm BST
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 
Caroline Garcia (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Caroline Garcia and Sloane Stephens face off for the first time in four years with a place in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome on the line.

Caroline Garcia vs Sloane Stephens Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is streamed live from Rome on Thursday at 6pm local/5pm BST (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify. Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at bet365 > live streaming > tennis  

World no. 7 Garcia is looking to reach her fifth quarterfinal of the 2018 season at the Premier-5 event played at the Foro Italico, but she will need to beat world no. 10 Stephens in their first ever meeting on clay if she is to do so. 

Garcia, who broke into the top 10 in sensational style at the end of 2017 after she won back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing – something no WTA player has ever managed before – and reached the semifinals of the WTA Finals Singapore, had quite an average start to the year, beaten in the fourth round of the Australian Open and making back-to-back quarterfinals in Doha and Dubai. But the French player, whose run to the quarterfinals of the French Open 12 months ago was a significant milestone in her personal maturing from an erratic might-have-been to a solid top-10 player, has really revived since making the transition to European clay, making back-to-back semifinals in Stuttgart and Madrid – and beating some quality players at both, including Maria Sharapova and Elina Svitolina at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and Julia Goerges and Carla Suarez Navarro at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Garcia had to bounce back fast from what was a very disappointing defeat for her to Kiki Bertens in the Madrid semifinals, when, despite having not dropped a set and serving brilliantly in her first four matches at the Caja Magica, she found herself dismantled by a superb performance from the Dutch player, who won 6-2, 6-2. Garcia was outplayed by Bertens, but it was disappointing that the French player couldn’t find a way back into the match, couldn’t regroup and put pressure on her opponent, and there were tears at times for the volatile Frenchwoman. 

But when she finally took the court at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Wednesday, having enjoyed a top-eight seed’s privilege of a first-round bye, Garcia proved to be playing quite well, beating Timea Babos 6-3, 6-4 to reach the round of 16 at the Foro Italico. Babos isn’t the toughest opponent for Garcia – the Hungarian is another big-serving, error-prone, first-strike player – but Garcia did put in a brilliant serving performance reminiscent of those she produced in Madrid to get efficient early wins, recording 77% of first serves in while making much more of an impact on her opponent’s serve.


Sloane Stephens  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Garcia will need all her best serving when she takes on Sloane Stephens, who is also looking to make the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for the first time, having fallen short to Maria Sharapova on her previous advance to the round of 16 in 2013. 

The French Open is the only Grand Slam where Sloane Stephens hasn’t made at least the quarterfinals, but she is by no means a bad player on clay. Champion in Charleston in 2016, Stephens has twice been a semifinalist in Strasbourg and made the round of 16 at Roland Garros for four straight years between 2012-15 before falling in the third round in 2016 and missing the tournament entirely in 2017.

Stephens will return to Roland Garros as a Grand Slam champion in 2018 after having captured her maiden major title in stunning style at the 2017 US Open, despite it being just the fifth event she had played following a lay-off of almost a year with an ankle injury. Stephens went an unimpressive 3-4 during her first events in 2018, but turned things around at the Miami Open where she won the title – the second biggest of her career – beating Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Stephens has done a bit better on European clay so far this season than a cursory glance at her record would suggest – she scored wins over Kristina Mladenovic and Pauline Parmentier in Fed Cup, and although her 1-6, 0-6 defeat to Coco Vandeweghe in Stuttgart was abysmal, she played solidly in Madrid until being defeated by Karolina Pliskova (who was on a huge hot streak at the time) in the round of 16. I thought Stephens played very well in what was an under-watched and high-quality affair against Barbora Strycova in the first round, weathering the storm 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1; against the powerful Kaia Kanepi in the second round on Wednesday, Stephens dominated the first set 6-0 and was leading 2-0 in the second but Kanepi, who has reached multiple Grand Slam quarterfinals during her injury-prone career, came back and pushed Stephens all the way, forcing the American to find some of her best tennis and fight hard for her 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 win.

This is an unpredictable clash: Garcia and Stephens have faced off twice, but never on clay and not since 2014, and the head-to-head stands at 1-1. We know that Garcia will play powerful aggressive tennis, that she will attack fairly relentlessly and that she will look to turn in a very good serving performance, as she has been doing a lot lately. Stephens has many more options in her game – almost too many at times – but she will lay herself open to danger if she relies too much on unforced errors from Garcia. I think this could be a long three-set tussle and I think Garcia and Stephens will trade blows all the way to the finish line – but I think it could be Garcia who takes this one and books her place in the quarterfinals.


Garcia vs Stephens Internazionali BNL d’Italia tennis is live from Rome on Thursday at 6pm local/5pm BST. Watch and bet on the match at bet365 > live streaming > tennis > Caroline Garcia vs Sloane Stephens (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 


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Caroline Garcia vs Sloane Stephens live streaming, preview and tips: Garcia and Stephens face off for the first time on clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Caroline Garcia vs Sloane Stephens live streaming, preview and tips for the WTA Rome Internazionali BNL d’Italia third-round match on Thursday 17 May 2018: Miami Open champion Stephens looks to oust seventh seed Garcia in their first meeting on clay. We preview the match and show you how you can watch the match live and bet in-play.

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