An all-Italian affair in round one between Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi ensures there will be at least one representative of the country in round two, with Fognini the heavy favourite to advance. Fognini enters the tournament at a career high ranking of 11 but is actually seeded 9th in the tournament.
Seppi is a veteran of the tour, once finding himself inside the top 20. Now outside the top 60, he continues to slide and comes into the tournament on a nine match losing streak, dating back to Delray Beach in February. That includes losses in three straight weeks across Madrid, Rome and Geneva to Gael Monfils, Roberto Bautista Agut and Hugo Dellien respectively.
Fognini remains an enigma but might be on the verge of figuring it all out, as he seeks to make the top 10 for the first time in his career. That will be in some part down to his Monte Carlo Masters title, where he beat Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal as part of a great run for his first Masters 1000 title. He lost at the same stage in both Madrid and Rome but defeats to Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas are no shame for the Italian.
Somewhat surprisingly, the pair are split down the middle at 5-5 in their 10 career matches. Seppi won the first 5 but Fognini has been on the winning side ever since and should make it six in a row with his and Seppi’s careers going in opposite directions.
Prediction – Fabio Fognini in straight sets