ATP Rome Masters 2014 Draw Preview and Analysis

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 Rafael Nadal Clay ATP Rome Masters 2014 Draw Preview and Analysis

 

The second of back-to-back Masters 1000 events, the Italian Open in Rome is one of the top clay events on tour. As usual, Rafael Nadal has dominated the event in the past with seven titles in the last nine years, only Novak Djokovic winning otherwise in that time period. Like Madrid, the event also hosts a WTA event the same week.

Check out the Full Draw: ATP Rome Masters 2014 Draw

In defence of his title, Nadal will be happy to see that he has drawn Andy Murray of the 5-8 seeds in the draw. Nadal opens his tournament against the winner of Gilles Simon and Filippo Volandri. Volandri’s finest week came at this tournament in 2007 when he beat Gasquet, Federer and Berdych on his way to the semi finals. He is 0-3 against opponent Gilles Simon and has gone 1-7 on the main tour clay this year. Fernando Verdasco plays a qualifier which could include Santiago Giraldo and Sam Querrey. 14th seed Mikhail Youzhny has struggled this year but should get his second clay win of the year against Nicolas Mahut.

Jurgen Melzer‘s return from injury has been so-so, going 3-4 on the year. He opens against John Isner, whom he is 2-1 against but all meetings have been on hard. The Austrian often deals well with big servers so could spring a shock if Isner has a bad day. Marin Cilic plays a qualifier while Murray faces the winner of an all-Spaniard clash between Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers. It was last year at the event when Murray retired after winning the second set in what turned out to be his last clay event of the year.

Stanislas Wawrinka crashed back down to earth, losing in three sets to the highly talented Dominic Thiem after his Monte Carlo title. Wawrinka impressed in Monaco and he should see himself back in the semi finals this week. Paolo Lorenzi or a qualifier is first up while another Italian wildcard in Marco Cecchinato plays Igor Sijsling. Cecchinato notably took a set off Fabio Fognini in Nice last year but spends the majority of his time at Challenger level. Tommy Haas will be hoping to avoid a third straight surprise loss this year when he faces Andreas Seppi. He defeated the Italian in three sets in Munich a few weeks back.

Grigor Dimitrov lost in three sets to Tomas Berdych in Madrid last week but will have the chance for instant revenge in a potential third round clash. Edouard Roger Vasselin is up first for the Bulgarian who will then face the winner of Ivo Karlovic and a qualifier, which looks a prime spot for the qualifier to take a victory. Berdych made it 1-2 against Dimitrov with victory last week and to have a chance of tying it up he first needs to beat the winner of Dmitry Tursunov and Roberto Bautista-Agut. Bautista-Agut made the semi finals in Madrid, making the top 30 in the process.

Another of the wild cards in Simone Bolelli is fortunate to draw a wildcard but unfortunately Milos Raonic awaits the winner of that clash. Raonic was just edged out in a tough two setter last week by Madrid finalist Kei Nishikori, losing both sets in the tiebreak. Kevin Anderson will hope to improve on his 1-3 record on clay this year when he plays Vasek Pospisil while the clash between Alexandr Dolgopolov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga promises a lot in terms of entertaining tennis. Despite being the unseeded player, Dolgopolov will likely be favoured going into this given his form this year. The Ukranian is 3-2 against Tsonga and won their only match on clay.

Roger Federer skipped Madrid due to the arrival of a second set of twins in his family but returns this week to defend his title from last year. He lost easily to Nadal there and can only face the Spaniard in a final should they get there. He opens with the winner of a Jeremy Chardy/Robin Haase clash while the other seed in his section is Fabio Fognini. Fognini found himself at the centre of controversy once more in Madrid, with a meltdown that was much more common for the Italian in the past few years. Fognini plays Lukas Rosol in round one, looking to extend the head to head to 2-0. The winner faces Federico Delbonis or Ivan Dodig in round two.

Novak Djokovic withdrew from Madrid due to his ongoing wrist issues but is still scheduled to play this event. His opening round against the winner of Pablo Andujar and Radek Stepanek will be just his fifth of the season on clay as he continues to prepare for the French Open. He lost at the quarter final stage last year and so can gain some ground on Nadal in the race for No.1 with a title this year. 16th seed Tommy Robredo plays Juan Monaco for the first time since 2009, looking to tie the head to head up at 3. The winner faces Jerzy Janowicz or Philipp Kohlschreiber. Janowicz needs to have a good tournament with quarter final points to defend but his early struggles this year suggests that it is unlikely with a 6-9 year to date record.

David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori faced off in an epic semi final on Saturday in Madrid and could face each other again in Rome, but this time at the third round stage. Ferrer needs to beat the winner of Mikhail Kukushkin and Joao Sousa to get that far while Nishikori has a much tougher task if he has anything left in the tank after his exertions in Madrid. A first round clash with Ernests Gulbis is the pick of the tournament with Nishikori currently leading the head to head 2-0. The winner will face a qualifier in round two.

Prediction
SF:  Rafael Nadal def. Stanislas Wawrinka
SF: Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer
F: Rafael Nadal def. Novak Djokovic

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12 comments
mentatx
mentatx

hi, writing this post festum.  now we've seen both in action and the prediction was so off the mark that it makes it ridiculous.  nadal is a "spent' man, all the effort and so much grinding have taken it out of him.  he was just great at 17 through 26, but his body is not willing anymore.  besides novak has a technical edge over him as well as superior acumen and physicality.  on top of that, it is evident that rafa's play has been seen through by novak.  rafa can occasionally win due to external causes but not when on equal terms with novak.  


to sum up: mr. higgs has made a big error of judgement while assessing the two rivals.

SuzanneThomas1
SuzanneThomas1

Nadal looks willing to incorporate his clay and hard court game now. Conditions in Rome are slower but the linear corner to corner, down the line approach with both backhand and forehand hit early and aggressively is the order of the day. Nadal's movement and rhythm is improving as is his confidence and so he should overcome all contenders- Vamos!

AndrewSpence1
AndrewSpence1

As for Nadal being 'back on form'- he had an impossibly easy ride to the final, which he probably would have lost had it not been for Nishikori's back problems.
I've noticed that Nadal often seems to get favourable draws full of players that pose no real threat. That's probably why he's never won the ATP Tour Finale.

AndrewSpence1
AndrewSpence1

As a Novak Djokovic fan I *need* him to step it up for this tournament. I'm really hoping he has Marian by his side through Rome and French Open.

LanceArmstrongofTennis
LanceArmstrongofTennis

@AndrewSpence1  Berdych is "impossibly easy"? If I were a Djokovic fan, I would be bitter too. But that is no excuse for being stupid. You don't win 63 tournaments by coasting through easy draws. 

Nadalwanga
Nadalwanga

@AndrewSpence1  that doesnt make......what can u explain the fact that Rafa has a better head to Head against all the top players then??.......answer that maybe ur reasonin will improve

Tennis Fan
Tennis Fan

@AndrewSpence1  this could be a good explanation why Nadal has never won ATP tour finale.  I agree he has a favorable draw in this tournament and the two US open that he has won.  That said, well, at least, he grabs the opportunities when it presents...

AndrewSpence1
AndrewSpence1

@Nadalwanga @AndrewSpence1 I have clearly said why... the likes of Federer and Djokovic (and I'd count Ferrer too) have to fight their way to a tournament final whereas Nadal often seems to get an easy ride.

The only tough draw Nadal has had in the past 6 months or so was in the Australian Open. Suffice to say he lost it.

LanceArmstrongofTennis
LanceArmstrongofTennis

@Tennis Fan @AndrewSpence1  ATP tour final is (unfairly) played on indoor hard courts year after year. That is Nadal's worst surface. Now, are you really suggesting that Nadal can't beat top competition? Nadal has a winning record against all of the players currently in the Top 30, and most of those h2hs are ridiculously lopsided in his favor. What I also don't understand is that you say Novak is a true champion and that Nadal faced easy competition during his two US Open victories. Do you not remember who Rafa was playing in the finals both times? These are just silly, uninformed comments. 

RafatheGOAT
RafatheGOAT

@AndrewSpence1 @RafatheGOAT    LOL... That's why he got pounded at the FO and US by the GOAT and has 13 slams to Eggvak's 6 and their only 1 year apart.  Keep me posted if Eggy ever gets to double digit slams