The clay season continues to heat up with the second of back-to-back Masters 1000 events beginning in Rome. It will be defending champion Rafael Nadal‘s final opportunity to pick up a first 2019 title before Roland Garros while Novak Djokovic will look to continue his good form having won in Madrid.
Check out the full ATP Rome 2019 Draw.
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Djokovic has been disappointing by his standards for much of the year, failing to build on his Australian Open title. That looks to be over with Serbian winning the title in Madrid, not dropping a set on the way there. He avenged his Canada loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final, following an impressive win over Dominic Thiem in the prior round. The top seed will seek consecutive titles when he takes to the court in Rome, beginning with either Pablo Carreno Busta or Denis Shapovalov. Both Philipp Kohlschreiber and Daniil Medvedev both have wins over Djokovic this year but the focus will likely be on on Juan Martin Del Potro when it comes to players who may have the opportunity to beat him before the semi finals. The Argentinian has played Djokovic tough on a number of occasions but is short on matches in 2019, having played just four times.
Alexander Zverev continues to flounder on the clay and could be vulnerable against an inspired wildcard in Matteo Barretini. The Italian already beat Lucas Pouille in the opening round here and is in great form with back-to-back finals in Budapest and Munich, winning the first of them. Meanwhile, Zverev failed to defend his title in Madrid after losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the quarter final stage. Although he lost from match point up to Roger Federer in the third round last week, Gael Monfils will probably take some heart from pushing to a third set tiebreak. The Frenchman looks to bounceback and will hope to be the beneficiary of Zverev’s struggles. Meanwhile, Marin Cilic is aiming for another good week after making the quarter finals in Madrid. He was unable to compete against Novak Djokovic at that stage but will hopefully be over the food poisoning that forced him to withdraw. Kei Nishikori caps off the top seeds in the top half of the draw, looking for a strong week after an early exit in Madrid. He opens against Guido Pella or Taylor Fritz. Fritz qualified for the second week running, this time after two wins against home wildcards.
Stefanos Tsitsipas failed to win a Masters 1000 final at his second attempt, losing to Novak Djokovic on this occasion in Madrid. However, it has been a great week for him and he went some way to proving he belongs at the very top with his run to the final, most notably beating Rafael Nadal in the semi finals. Highly touted wildcard Jannik Sinner will be up first after the Italian became one of the youngest players to win a Masters 1000 match at 17 but the focus will go straight to a potential quarter final with Roger Federer. Tsitsipas announced himself to a much larger audience after his win over Federer in Melbourne and can further increase his reputation with another win should that match happen. Fabio Fognini will hope to thwart that matchup by defeating the Greek in the third round. Monte Carlo champion Fognini can be outstanding on his day and a vocal home crowd can only be good for the 10th seed. Federer may have to go through some of the top young stars to go deep with the likes of Frances Tiafoe and Borna Coric potential opponents for him before the quarter finals.
Rafael Nadal heads the final quarter of the draw, hoping to final win his first title of the year. The Spaniard is the defending champion, having ended a 5 year drought to secure his eighth Rome title last year. Nadal will be eyeing the likely quarter final with Dominic Thiem but will need to see of the threat of the likes of Nikoloz Basilashvili before that. Thiem’s win over Nadal was part of an eight match winning streak that included that Barcelona title as well as a win over Roger Federer, where he saved match points. He will be disappointed to have not beat Novak Djokovic, having held a break lead in both sets, but still looks well placed for a very deep run at Roland Garros barring misfortune. Nadal’s loss to Tsitsipas meant he failed to book a much wanted meeting with Djokovic in the final and was reflective after that loss.“I think that it’s more normal what is happening right now, than what happened in the past 14 years,” he said. “I think I have tennis ahead of me. I have time ahead of me. I’ll be able to try to win this kind of tournament that I was not able to win this year. And what I have to do is to be fit and to play properly and a high tennis level.
SF: Novak Djokovic def. Gael Monfils
SF: Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer
F: Novak Djokovic def. Rafael Nadal