Still titleless coming into Rome, Rafael Nadal remains eager to get on the board in 2019. He will play Jeremy Chardy in his opener at the Italian Open, with the winner going on to face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last sixteen. Nadal is an eight time champion in Rome but has only won one of the last five, that being last year.
Chardy had to play his match across two days, having split sets with Richard Gasquet on Monday night. He broke twice in the decider to secure a 6-1 4-6 6-3 victory. Chardy made the last sixteen last week, eventually losing to Novak Djokovic 6-1 7-6.
Nadal seemed to be fighting fit in the early rounds of Madrid, cruising into the semi finals. However, he was defeated by an inspired Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets there. He seems to be over the virus that plagued him in the week prior to Madrid. “I am feeling good. I’m happy to be back here in Rome. I take a day off yesterday. I had a good sleep tonight. Just excited to be back in this special place for me. Try to have a good practice this afternoon, and let’s see if I am ready to compete at the level that I want to do.” he said.
Nadal doesn’t seem too concerned about his trophyless season yet, if his pre-tournament comments are anything to go by. “Sometimes winning a title or not doesn’t make a big difference, no? I didn’t win a title. It’s true I missed a couple of tournaments. At the same time is true that when I was playing, I was close to win it. I didn’t play enough good to win, but I didn’t play very bad. I am there.” he said. “I have been in three semifinals in a row. Well, four semifinals in a row, since Indian Wells” said Nadal.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets