Roger Federer opens his Italian Open tournament on Wednesday morning, kicking off the schedule on Court Centrale. He will play Joao Sousa in his first time at the event since 2016. Federer has never won the tournament but is a four times finalist, most recently in 2015.
Federer put in a good effort in his return to the clay, making the quarter finals before losing to Dominic Thiem in three sets. He will have been disappointed to have lost, having held match points against one of the stars of the clay swing this year. “I feel very good about my game. I thought I had some good matches here, you know, especially last two. First one was good to get into it.” he said after that defeat.
Sousa earned a much needed win in the opening round here, surprising Frances Tiafoe in three sets. He outlasted the American in a three hour thriller, taking it in a final set tiebreak. The Portugese was ranked inside the top 40 just months ago but has since slumped outside the top 70 after winning just one of five matches following Miami.
Federer will be a top four seed going into the French Open but will look to this tournament for some much needed match practice and confidence heading into the big one. The conditions in Madrid last week are much different to what he will see over the next few weeks, something he recognises. “I think this week, then next week in Paris, it’s going to be interesting to see how I play the points, how I do it all. In Madrid, like we said, conditions were extremely fast, so you could play serve and volley, you could come to the net. Here maybe it’s easier to play drop shots, easier maybe to go backhands up the line. On fast courts it’s maybe not so simple to do that at will.” he said. The winner will play Borna Coric in round three.
Prediction – Roger Federer in straight sets