Rome Masters preview and predictions

Madrid finalists Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have already enjoyed hugely successful clay-court seasons. While they could use some additional rest before the French Open, cooler heads will prevail and both will almost certainly suit up for this week’s Rome Masters. Clay, of course, is by far the favorite surface of both players and neither one can afford to bypass another opportunity to rack up 1000 points. If Nadal wins Madrid, Rome, and Roland Garros, he would have an almost insurmountable lead in the race to year-end No. 1. If Thiem turns in another big result, he would clinch a top eight seed for both the French Open and Wimbledon and remain on course for a second straight World Tour Finals appearance.

Nadal and Thiem are joined in another strong Masters 1000 field by Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, David Goffin, and Juan Martin Del Potro.

Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Where: Rome, Italy
Surface: Clay
Points
: 1000
Prize money
: 4,273,775 Euros

Top seed: Andy Murray
Defending champion: Andy Murray

Draw analysis: It’s not often that a player who is the No. 1 seed and defending champion of a tournament can be a relative afterthought going into it, but that may be the case with Murray. The top-ranked Scot is just 16-6 this season, 4-4 in his last eight matches, and 4-3 on clay. He may not last long in Rome, either. Murray has to open against Italy’s own Fabio Fognini and a potential showdown with an in-form Alexander Zverev looms in round three. The rest of Murray’s quarter is underwhelming, so this is a big opportunity for Fognini or Zverev.

An intriguing first-rounder to watch in the top section pits 39-year-old Tommy Haas against 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic.

Nadal, who could also kick off his campaign against an Italian (Andreas Seppi), has a similarly tough draw. The Spaniard is on a collision course with Jack Sock for the last 16 and Thiem—arguably the second best clay-courter in the world right now—is a likely quarterfinal foe. Sock has what should be a difficult opening date with Diego Schwartzman on his hands, while a Thiem vs. Pablo Cuevas second-round contest would be a rematch of the Madrid semifinals.

A Nadal-Djokovic half of the draw is becoming a familiar sight and that is once again the case in Rome, where they could go head-to-head in another semifinal on the heels of Nadal’s 6-2, 6-4 Madrid victory. If nothing else, a slumping Djokovic is at least well-rested and should be able to coast through his Rome opener against either a qualifier or Italian wild card Gianluca Mager. Nick Kyrgios is a possible third-round opponent, but the Australian is dealing with some injury concerns so a confident Pablo Carreno Busta may be more likely to advance. Carreno Busta, a recent title winner in Estoril, lost to Djokovic 6-4 in the third in Monte-Carlo.

In the second-ranked Serb’s section, the Grigor Dimitrov-Juan Martin Del Potro winner could go a long way because the other top eight seed in that quarter is an injured Kei Nishikori.

Like Djokovic, Wawrinka is one-time French Open champion who is trying to find some form heading into the season’s second slam. The third-ranked Swiss has struggled since finishing runner-up to Roger Federer in Indian Wells and he is coming off a second-round Madrid exit at the hands of good friend Benoit Paire. As luck would have it, Wawrinka’s Rome opener could also come against none other than Paire. An overall soft section of the bracket should have a red-hot Goffin poised for yet another impressive clay-court showing.

First-round upset alert: Juan Martin Del Potro over (10) Grigor Dimitrov. In an effort to keep himself healthy and also due to the death of his grandfather, Del Potro has played only one clay-court match this spring (he beat Yuichi Sugita in Estoril and then withdrew). Dimitrov, meanwhile, has cooled off since starting the season 16-1 and he may have a tough time erasing the memory of having squandered five match points against Thiem in the Madrid third round. Moreover, the Bulgarian is a hopeless 0-4 in the head-to-head series against Del Potro and 1-8 in total sets.

Hot: Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, Jack Sock, Alexander Zverev, Pablo Carreno Busta, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Pablo Cuevas, Diego Schwartzman, Donald Young

Cold: Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, John Isner, Mischa Zverev, Ivo Karlovic, Tommy Haas, Florian Mayer, Marcos Baghdatis, Bernard Tomic, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo

Quarterfinal predictions: Alexander Zverev over Tomas Berdych, David Goffin over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Rafael Nadal over Lucas Pouille, and Pablo Carreno Busta over Juan Martin Del Potro

Semifinals: Goffin over Zverev and Nadal over Carreno Busta

Final: Nadal over Goffin

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

61 Comments on Rome Masters preview and predictions

    • not fully sold on Nadal winning this one. He might win a few matches and then lose in the quarters. Gets enough practice so that he does not miss 2 straight weeks if competition and also conserves energy. We shall see

      • I am not sure either about Rome. There is no question that Rafa is red hot now, so it’s hard to pick against him.

        Whatever happens will be fine with me. Rafa has done what he needed to do. Madrid was a big prize, because that tournament hasn’t been easy for him. Also it gave him the # 4 seed for RG. He’s run the table so far.

        I have to think about it a bit more. But if Rafa should win, then he still gets a week off before RG. If for some reason he loses, then he will have extra time off.

  1. Ricky…what’s the hot with ARV when he’s already outed in the 1st round!..And what’s cold with John Isner when he just oust the finalist of Monte Carlo?

    • MA,

      Maybe it’s Ricky’s place to answer your question, but from reading his previews for tournaments over the years, I think that he picks hot and cold players based on their performance leading up to said tournament. He can’t know what will happen for sure once the tournament starts. Upsets can happen. But ARV has certainly done well leading up to Rome.

      Isner hasn’t done much lately.

      • Nny…Thank u for your answer..but..in truth,i’m not serious with my post up there…just want to teased Ricky…and i appreciate and respect u and Ricky very very much for your knowledgement in tennis…and i certainly still ‘green’ compared to u guys….Cheers Nny and Ricky!!

        • MA,

          Sorry! I took you literally! I can see that you might have been teasing Ricky!

          Sometimes he does get grief over his lists of the hit and cold players. But it’s not his opinion. It’s just their recent record that dictates where they land. Also. If a player has been out with an injury and not played then they can wind up on the cold list.

          We know where Rafa belongs – on the red hot list!
          ?

    • Isner hasn’t won consecutive matches at a tournament this year. ARV made the Monte Carlo final. Hope this helps.

      • I previewed the tournament before it started. You know, like everyone does and like I do every week. I’m honestly not sure why this is so hard to figure out.

      • if Isner ends up winning the tournament, I’m not going to go back to a preview I wrote 8 days ago and move him from COLD to HOT. LOL.

        • Hahahahahaha!…Hey! hey!..that’s better Ricky!!…U usually don’t ‘talk’ much….i just want to provoke u to ‘talk’ more to us…i think this is the most long sentence that i’ve read from u…Hey btw Ricky…i don’t think you’ve notice that there’s something yucky! on Non tennis that involve the words ‘Bigboob’,’virgin’,’porn’…and it’s there for 4 days already!!..hohohoho!!

  2. Rome may not be as important for Rafa as Madrid but I am sure he is going to try to win it too. He has a tough draw though ( when does he not have?) but at least he will be meeting Thiem early if the latter survives Cuevas.

  3. I am sure Rafa will play Rome because apparently the surface is most like RG. So Rafa would definitely want to have a couple of matches on that surface and if possible to win the whole thing so that he goes to Paris on a high. I think he may reduce the hours for his practice to keep himself fresh.

  4. Gotta Go with Rafa over Goffin. I think Rafa will beat Nole in semis. Andy will lose to Fabio in first match. Tough draw for Andy on top of him playing poorly lately.

    • Nadal may just beat himself by playing too many matches (15 so far at a stretch). He struggled to beat Thiem in the 1st set, squeaking by in a tough tiebreaker. This shows that nadal is tiring and may lose to either Thiem, Goffin, Cuevas or Pouille (if they are healthy, not tired and not afriad of nadal) in the QF’S or SF’s! I won’t be surprised with a nadal loss. It is quire due now.

      Hoping for either one of Thiem, Goffin, Cuevas or Pouille to win the Rome Open! If Pouille has recoverd fully from his viral infection, a fit & healthy can be a danger to anybody and win it all!

      • Nah, Rafa wasn’t tiring; he’s more nervous than anything else! He knew what’s on the line – the no.4 ranking, and seeding at FO; the no. 30 Masters title; stamping his authority on a guy who is a potential threat at the FO; and doing all these in front of a home crowd added the pressure.

        He was energetic the whole match vs Djoko, but tensed up nearing the end of the match. I doubt that match took out too much energy from him that he felt tired at the start of or during the first set of the final. He was able to play long rallies in the second set and won most of them against Thiem.

        If anything, the others may be more tired than Rafa, as they’re not used to go deep in B2B tournaments. It’s more like Rafa would exploit their weaknesses, not the other way round the way you wished, for they have more weaknesses compared to Rafa!!

  5. Ha, I’m going to go with Stan in the final at Rome. It’s time Stan wakes up to play on clay. Rome’s surface is more like RG, a bit slow so it’s ideal for Stan.

    I feel Goffin, like Thiem has played many matches already, so it’s time he gets beaten. If Stan plays well at Rome and he’s well rested having lost early at Madrid, he may beat Goffin. I think Stan won’t be losing to Paire again, on clay!

    Murray’s quarter is harder to predict – Murray, Raonic not playing well. AZverev has played well this clay season but he may be a little tired by now having played in four events already prior to Rome.

    Thiem may face Cuevas again, in R2. Thiem may lose that match, after a tiring final with Rafa at Madrid. I’m not sure how far Rafa can go at Rome, not predicting anything about him.

    I think Djoko may make the SF again, may face Dimi in the QF and poor Dimi losing again in three tight sets.

    • LuckyStar , Stan will disappoint you a lot imo 🙂 he is officially lost at clay when he lost to Paire . He may win this time , but he is cold as much as Murray .. Goffin will be the finalist i think over there .

      • Goffin is struggling against Bellucci! I doubt he’s going to reach the final. Stan doesn’t play well on Madrid quick clay; the Rome clay surface suits him better. He’s well rested due to early loss at Madrid, so he may do well here at Rome. However, I don’t expect Stan to go far at RG, maybe QF and loses to Thiem or Goffin.

          • That was a tough win! I didn’t pick Goffin to make it to the semi’s this time. Hope i’m wrong but he needs to save his legs and lungs for FO and beyond, imo.

  6. I tend to think that these in form youngsters do not get tired so easily and since Rome plays more or less like RG they will all want to do well there. One week of rest is sufficient for most of them, match play is what matters. Thus I think Zverev will do fine to meet Andy in the quarters, Raonic although not playing well has little competition and shall reach quarters. Novak will have to rise his level of play to beat Grigor and may as well end up losing, while Rafa will hopefully have less grueling matches on his favorite surface to walk into the final stage of the tourney…in any case, even if Rafa lost due to being tired should be no big deal, but I know Rafa will do his best to beat them all!

    Vamos Rafa!

    • Madrid and Rome is back to back, so I doubt they have enough rest between these two tournaments. They’re not used to winning many matches in B2B weeks. Goffin lost early at Barcelona after reaching QF in MC; Thiem lost in R3 at MC before reaching final at Barcelona.

      Not every player can be like Rafa or Fed or Djoko, who during their heydays could play and win titles in B2B weeks. I think it’s the way the big three play, they’re on another level, not about fitness or stamina, but rather their skill sets set them apart from the rest, so they’re able to beat opponents in comparatively easier manner.

      • Exactly about Rafa having the strength and supreme fitness to handle back to back tournaments, especially this time of the season on clay.

        Thiem is strong and sturdy also recovers well but he’s not on the marathon level yet of Rafa, Roger, Novak, or Andy. I include Roger, who I did think had lost a step or two, but his back to back wins have astonished me!

        I don’t think Novak is as distance fit as he should be, (Andy) too. But the big 4 have shown us over and over what their potentials are.

        I watched the Madrid final…Rafa is ripped and ready to run for hours!!

      • Yep, sorry, that’s what I meant to say, Zverev to reach that far to meet Andy. For some reason I think Andy will be a tough task for Zverev in Rome and I go for Andy to win! I think he will finally wake up in Rome ? Ivan will contribute!

    • So lendl is lending his help? lol
      Nothing will help Andy on clay. His game is not suited for clay!
      Hope fixing his elbow helps.

      • Nonsense, Andy has become quite good on clay! He managed to beat Novak and Rafa for the Rome title, and he is also last year’s RG finalist. While clay hasn’t been his favorite surface in the past, he has improved and scored some impressive wins in the last years. This year it doesn’t look so good, but his whole game has been affected – and not just on clay.

    • Murray needs all the help he can get right now. Lendl has been such a help to Murray since he started working with him. He certainly can help Murray get focused again.

  7. Don’t think Andreas Seppi will beat Nocolas Almagro. Al is too experienced and in better form than seppi who defeated just 2 low ranked Ymer & Taberner on clay so far! The Italian home crowd will not help overcome the skill and form gap, IMO.

    Anyone else on Almagro?

  8. Thinking Joao Sousa will lose to Kyle Edmund. Joao tho has a better w/L rec in 2017 is in a poor form currently and is on a 6 match losing streak(squeezing a win over a flakey mayer in between). Edmund’s current form is better. Has 2 great wins over Evans and Chardy.

    Edmund gave nadal a run for his money! He nearly beat Joao Domingues. The Estoril home crowd acted unruly and cheated Edmund of that win over Domingues. has Joao done anything great lately? None. Besides, Edmund has the size and power advantage in serve & returns.

    Anyone with Diamond Edmund! Edmund is a young, raw diamond/prospect!

  9. Rafa’s Madrid title is a confidence booster worth a ton of gold. All those who claimed after Monte Carlo and Barcelona that Rafa hadn’t faced any serious contenders yet, can shut up now: in Madrid Rafa mastered an impressive assortment of challenges:
    – The fast conditions because of the higher altitude,
    – An ear infection,
    – A formidable array of opponents – two of whom have been niggling thorns in his side over the last three years (Fognini and Kyrgios), while another one didn’t even give him as much as a set seven times in a row! (Novak). His two other opponents (Goffin and Thiem) are young guys with a more than good clay court game. Especially Thiem might do very well at RG in the future. Rafa’s path to the Madrid title could hardly have been more difficult.
    – Rafa even managed to beat the statistically well established Tignor curse 😉 – and probably will have to beat it for the rest of the clay court season, lol! But right now his form is good enough to master even this hurdle. No reason for superstition here.
    – Potentially rigged draws are more of a concern. Right now Rafa can beat anyone on the other side of the net. But a difficult draw at RG could mean a tiring path to the final, where he could meet a much fresher opponent. But that’s still far away. First he has to get there. And although Rafa faced five difficult opponents in Madrid, only the first match against Fognini was a prolongued and exhaustive affair.
    As to Rome: since Rafa has the fourth seed for RG already in the bag, I just hope he gets some practice under favorable conditions, doesn’t injur himself and conserves some much needed energy for Paris.

    • yes Littlefoot , all we must avoid now is injuries , then no worries .. even if he loses at Roma , does not matter .

      • Thanks, Natashao.
        I still can’t believe how this tennis season has shaped up so far. Whoever would’ve told us that Rafa and Roger will lead the race to London by a big margin before RG would’ve been called deluded, lol! I was also afraid that Rafa might fall into a hole after having lost a fairly tight AO final. Great to see that this didn’t happen. Maybe Roger’s recent successes have inspired him.
        As to RG: we shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatched. Rafa’s recent form is great and he doesn’t have to fear any opponent. But fatigue and injury could still catch up with him. Let’s keep fingers crossed that we will see a great RG campaign and many memorable matches – and not just from Rafa.

        • It will break his heart if he doesn’t lift his 10th crown at RG. Everything has been geared to fulfilling that ambition. Fingers crossed the stars will be aligned to help him.

  10. Robin Haase can win over Carlos Berlocq in 3. Carlos Berlocq also can in 3. Berlocq has won 2 qualies at Rome and has feel for the Rome Clay courts.

    Haase has a 3:1 H2H advantage over berlocq, besides being more highly rated than berlocq!

    Excited to see how Berlocq handles Haase’s powerful ground strokes!Over seems imminent here and either can win.

    Anyone with Haase?

  11. Since I can’t get exited just yet about journeymen’s matches in Rome, lets take a look a at the the ATP rankings: today is Andy Murray’s 30th birthday – hearty congratulatios! His run tom the pole position last year was most impressive, even if he has run out of steam a bit by now. But most remarkable is that now four of the top five are over thirty. And in a few weeks Novak will belong to that club, too! The way it is now, the youngsters simply can’t join the club of the big ones, yet. Even the guys who managed to snag a slam away from the Big Four, like Wawrinka and Cilic, aren’t exactly youngsters, Wawrinka being even older than Rafa. And it doesn’t look like this state of affairs will change anytime soon.
    Question: is thirty and over the new golden age for tennis – or is the quality gap between the exceptional talent of the Big Four (and occasionally Wawrinka) and the younger generation still too big for now? I suspect the latter…

    • Exceptional talent of the big four. Anyway, look at the race now, Thiem is at no.3, Goffin at no.4 and Dimi at no.6, so the 20 something guys are making their moves now.

      Thiem looks likely to add many points at Rome and RG. He still can pick up points on clay after Wimbledon, at the 250 events plus Hamburg. He may end the year inside top five, if Stan, Murray and/or Djoko fail to find their form. Goffin may remain in top ten. Who knows, if the draw at RG permits, Thiem may reach the FO final and Goffin the SF. Both are form players on clay just after Rafa.

      It takes Murray until he’s 25 to win a slam; Cilic at almost 26 and Stan at 28, so the current 20 something guys will have their chances, esp when Fedal and Djoko start fading away for real.

      • Although Rafa is the red hot favorite for the RG title right now as long as he manages to stay fit and healthy, anything can happen. And young guys like Thiem and Goffin have a vergy good chance to go deep into the second week this year. Right now they seem to be in a better position than Novak, Andy and Stan and maybe even Roger, who still hasn’t played a competitive clay match this year. While some bemoan Rafa’s resurgence and predict boredom, I think this year’s RG could be really interesting.

        • Apparently they do not mind when Fed or Nole dominate several years in succession but it gets boring when Rafa dominates just a part of a season. Actually, as Rafa’s generation of Europeans were all trained on clay, the field has always been more competitive than on any other surface. It is just that Rafa is so freaky good that he has dominated.

        • I’m sure WaWa has been biding his time and not going all out in the lead up Masters series. His goal is another RG crown but he will face stiff competition from the younger hopefuls as well as his contemporaries…

          • Yup, I expect Stan to do better at Rome. So also Muzz and Nole. As for our man from Mallorca, everything depends on how fresh he feels.

          • ed,

            I agree with you about Stan. He tends to get himself up for the slams. He is a player who is capable of going into a slam and playing himself into form. I am thinking that he may do something in Rome.

            It will be interesting if he can do it again at RG, given that some of the young guys have stepped it up. Thiem and Goffin are playing exceptionally well and will be ready and primed to step up should Murray and Stan falter at RG.

    • Absolutely. It is the quality gap plus too much money for the young guys which is responsible for the big 4 still dominating. But age has caught up with the big 4 so we find not all of them are dominating at the same time. From 2005 to 2013, just Safin and Delpo had managed to snatch one slam each. I think the Big 4 stranglehold on Masters was just as awesome.Starting 2014, 4 slams have been won by others, Cilic ..1 and Wawa: 3.

  12. QF:
    Berdych over Zverev
    Wawrinka over Cilic
    Rafa over Cuevas
    Kyrgios over Del Po
    SF:
    Stanimal over Berdych
    Rafa over Kyrgios
    Final:
    Rafa over Stanimal

    • Kygrios has hip injury, I doubt he can go far here at Rome. It will be Dimi vs Djoko in Djoko’s quarter and Djoko wins in three. The other three quarters I have the same players as you have predicted.

      So SF:
      Stan over Berdych
      Rafa over Djoko

      Final:
      Rafa over Stan

      • The only pick i’m comfortable with is Rafa for the title!

        I have Novak making the Sf v Rafa and I remain blindly optimistic about Andy Murray.

        Stan isn’t reliable – I don’t know, but I think he won’t care to win or make a deep run in Rome.

      • Didn’t realize Kyrgios was injured. Well I knew he was slightly hurt in Madrid but I would’ve thought he was better right now. Kyrgios would typically withdraw if he was injured I would think.

  13. I watched Delpo vs Dimi, I think if Delpo continues to play like this, he may give Djoko fits when they meet in the QF.

    Poor Dimi, lost another match that went the distance. What happened to him? After winning his two 250 events and reaching the SF of AO, he had not done anything else except losing in first match at every Masters he had played so far.

  14. See Nadal winning without losing a set. It’s going to be great season because Nadal will be world number two if he wins french and Rome (doesn’t even need Rome). If Nadal does become world number two and does well in Wimbledon and the US open Nadal will be number one. Even if he doesn’t do well and Murray fails he will be world number one. He’s the odds on favourite to end the year both world number one and year-end number one

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