For the Federer vs Nadal Live Coverage from Rome, please click here: Rafael Nadal v Roger Federer Live Rome 2013 final
For the full draw, please click here: ATP Rome Masters 2013 Draw
The Internazionali BNL d’Italia is the fifth ATP Masters 1000 event of the year and in the second in successive weeks, following on from Madrid. The Rome tournament is in its seventieth edition with Rafael Nadal boasting the most titles the history of the event. He is looking to win his fourth title in five years and the seventh overall.
The most interesting part of the draw is that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are in the same half and so are slated to play at the semi final stage. The last two finals have been between the two with each player owning a straight sets win over the other. After his shocking loss to Grigor Dimitrov in Madrid, Djokovic begins with a fairly straight forward tie against Martin Klizan or a qualifier. Klizan has struggled early this year with first round exits in Monte Carlo and Madrid, failing to build on his impressive 2012 so far. Italian wildcard Matteo Viola has had to withdraw from his last two matches on the Challenger circuit so there will be doubts over him as he takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov. Viola has only played four matches on the main tour this year, going 1-3 with the lone win over Marcel Granollers. Oeiras champion Stanislas Wawrinka has continued his excellent form with a run to the finals in Madrid and begins with a qualifier.
Likewise Marin Cilic, with the winner up against Kevin Anderson or Jurgen Melzer in round two. The head to head stands at 1-1 with Melzer winning their lone meeting on the clay. John Isner has a clay title under his belt this year in Houston but has struggled in Europe, going 1-2 with losses to Pablo Andujar and Ernests Gulbis. He plays Denis Istomin who beat Isner earlier in the year in Memphis but the pair are yet to meet on clay. The winner will play Tomas Berdych, semi finalist in Madrid but will be disappointed to have not done better given his third set lead. Berdych is 2-2 against Isner but has won both their meetings on clay.
Another Rafael Nadal-David Ferrer quarter final is on the cards and it is difficult to see any reason why the outcome should be any different than their last meeting, which extended Nadal’s record to 15-1 on clay over Ferrer. The quarter has a Spanish feel to it with Ferrer possibly having the chance to play Spaniards in his first three matches were he to advance. He begins against the winner of Fernando Verdasco and Horacio Zeballos. After struggling for form in the last few months, Verdasco was impressive in wins over David Goffin and Milos Raonic while taking a set lead over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before falling to defeat. Albert Ramos will play a qualifier while Milos Raonic faces a tough opener against Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German was a finalist in Munich and always performs fairly well on the clay. News has surfaced that Raonic has split with his coach so it will be interesting to see the impact this has on the Canadian, if any.
A great atmosphere is guaranteed for Nadal’s opener where he will play the winner of the all-Italian affair between Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi. Seppi leads the head to head 5-3 but Fognini has won the last 3, including just last month in a three setter at Monte Carlo. Nadal could well have to see off a second Serbian on his way to the final with Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki playing each other in Round 1. Tipsarevic has been far from impressive on the clay but leads the head to head 2-1. The winner will play either Jarkko Nieminen or a qualifier in round two.
With Nadal, Djokovic and Berdych all in the other half, the draw looks to offer Andy Murray a kind route to the final although his record on clay has been far from stellar. After defeat to Berdych in Madrid, he still only owns 1 win over Top 10 opposition on the surface. He will start against the man who was the only top 10 he has defeated in Nikolay Davydenko, should the Russian see off Marcel Granollers. Granollers won their only meeting, a straight sets victory in Madrid 2011. Kei Nishikori shocked the world with victory over Roger Federer in Madrid only to disappoint in the next round with defeat to Pablo Andujar. The sixteenth seed plays the Italian wildcard Paolo Lorenzi and could be in danger if one of the home favourites makes it a scrappy affair. Feliciano Lopez lost his first match in over two months in Madrid after a return from injury but could have tougher matches than Jeremy Chardy who has been inconsistent so far this season. Lopez won their only meeting, this year in Sydney.
Juan Martin Del Potro is projected to be Murray’s quarter final opponent although neither look certain. Del Potro was shocked last time out by an inspired Jarkko Nieminen in Monte Carlo. His opener should be fairly straight forward though with either a qualifier or Xavier Malisse up first. Nicolas Almagro will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing performance against Mikhail Youzhny in Madrid and starts against Julien Benneteau. Benneteau leads the head to head 2-1 but they have yet to play on clay while the Frenchman is also in the middle of a six match losing streak. Almagro could play a second Frenchman in round two should he advance but Juan Monaco will have other ideas as he takes on Benoit Paire.
Like Murray, Roger Federer will feel the draw gives him his best chance to make a final this year. Federer is yet to make one in five attempts and was disappointing against Kei Nishikori in Madrid. The draw is kind though with Radek Stepanek or wildcard Potito Starace in round one. Starace won a Challenger in Napoli two weeks ago but exited early in Rome last week to Dusan Lajovic. Another wildcard hoping to make a splash is Filippo Volandri. Volandri famously defeated Federer at this tournament in 2007 but has always found it difficult on the main draw. He made the final of the aforementioned Rome Challenger but lost to Aljaz Bedene in straight sets. He starts with Gilles Simon, who leads the head to head 2-0 with victories eight years apart. Tommy Haas continues to play great tennis even at 35, pushing David Ferrer three sets in Madrid and will feel he could well have defeated the world No.4. The Munich champion is up against Mikhail Youzhny to begin the tournament. With a 14-0 record over the Russian, Federer will be hoping the Russian springs a shock against Haas and makes it to the third round should he get there.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saved match points against Madrid finalist Stanislas Wawrinka before finally losing in three sets to the Swiss. Jerzy Janowicz will meet the Frenchman in round two should he defeat a qualifier. The Pole pushed Tomas Berdych to three sets in Madrid before departing and is unfortunate to draw a tough opponent early once more. Grigor Dimitrov shocked the world in the eventful three set victory over Novak Djokovic but failed to back it up in the next round, losing from a set up to Wawrinka. Dimitrov has shown he can compete with the best players on the clay this spring and should deal with Marcos Baghdatis fairly easily. The Bulgarian leads the head to head 3-1 with wins on both hard courts and clay. Baghdatis has been poor recently, losing his last six ATP matches. A battle of the one handed backhands looks likely too, with Richard Gasquet awaiting in round two if he can defeat Sam Querrey.