In a surprising coincidence, British No. 1 Andy Murray will meet the same man he retired against last year in Rome, Marcel Granollers, in the very same stage of the tournament as in 2013. It was the start of Murray’s back issues that would eventually lead him into surgery in September. Murray, who leads Granollers 3-1 in the head-to-head series, will be looking to avenge that unforeseen loss last year.
The world No. 8 has not been at his best in 2014. Murray has not won a title since his historic run to the Wimbledon Championships title. His best performances this season have been quarter-final appearances in Melbourne and Miami, as well as the semi-final in Acapulco, where he lost to budding Bulgarian talent Grigor Dimitrov.
Murray made his first clay court appearance of the season quite early on in a Davis Cup tie against the USA, where he won both his matches against Sam Querrey and Donald Young. Although he had a four-week break following the Miami Masters, he would lose his second match in Madrid against Santiago Giraldo, after edging past Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in the second round. He will be looking to desperately improve upon that record this week in Rome.
Murray’s draw in Rome is certainly a tough one. The Briton faces possible clashes with Marin Cilic or John Isner, before a quarter-final against the world No1, Rafael Nadal, whom he has not played for two years. Swiss No. 1 Stanislas Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov are also on their side of the draw.
World No. 25 Marcel Granollers began his week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a 7-5, 6-1 win over fellow countryman Feliciano Lopez. He is 9-13 so far this season, as his best performance was a finals appearance in Casablanca, where he lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
While Granollers is far from consistent this season, he is not an opponent that Murray should take lightly. A Spanish competitor on clay is always a worrisome obstacle, yet it is one that Murray can overcome if he produces strong tennis.
Prediction: Andy Murray in Three Sets