Arguably the most intriguing first-round match-up at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia is between France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and resurgent Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. This marks the sixth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Dolgopolov leading the series 3-2, including a win in their most recent encounter two years ago in Madrid.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is coming off a poor showing in Madrid, where he quietly exited the event in woeful fashion in the second round of the event to Santiago Giraldo. Prior to that, Tsonga is coming off a decent week in Monte Carlo, where he reached the quarter-final round before losing to 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer. It was his best performance apart from reaching the final in Marseille back in February. With a 14-8 record this season, Tsonga will be desperately looking to regain his old form and find his way back into the Top 10.
Last year Tsonga lost in the opening round of the event to Jerzy Janowicz. He will be rebound this week with an impressive showing in the draw.
Ukrainian No. 1 Alexandr Dolgopolov is coming off a second round exit in Madrid to Latvian rival Ernests Gulbis. Prior to that, Dolgopolov has been a resurgent force in 2014, as the Ukrainian talent reached the semi-finals in Buenos Aires and the finals in Rio, where he lost to clay court king Rafael Nadal. He would avenge that loss the following month, as he would defeat Nadal in three sets at Indian Wells, before losing to Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Having already earned impressive performances during the Golden Swing in Latin America, Dolgopolov was unable to translate that into wins on European clay, as he losing in the second round in Monte Carlo, his opening match in Barcelona, and now the second round in Madrid.
This marks the sixth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Dolgopolov leading the series 3-2, including a win in their most recent encounter two years ago in Madrid. Tsonga has been playing some woefull tennis this season, and if he does not produce an exceptional performance on Monday, he will likely find himself with a second consecutive first round loss in Rome.
Prediction: Alexandr Dolgopolov in Three Sets