A pair of rematches from last week’s Madrid Masters are headlining Wednesday’s schedule in Rome. Stan Wawrinka and Benoit Paire also faced each other in the Madrid second round, while Dominic Thiem and Pablo Cuevas clashed in the semifinals.
(3) Stan Wawrinka vs. Benoit Paire
Wawrinka and Paire will be squaring off for the 11th time in their careers and for the second time in as many weeks when they meet again in round two of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Wednesday. The head-to-head series stands at 7-3 in favor of Wawrinka, but Paire just prevailed 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 at the Madrid Masters. Still, the Swiss is 2-1 against Paire on clay and has won five of their last seven encounters overall dating back to 2015.
The world No. 44 earned another date with his good friend by beating fellow Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-4 during first-round action in Rome on Tuesday. Paire is a decent 17-14 at the ATP level this season and he also finished runner-up at a clay-court Challenger tournament in France last month. Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open champion, is in dire need of some momentum heading into Roland Garros. The third-ranked Swiss finished runner-up to Roger Federer in Indian Wells, but he is since only 3-3 and 1-2 on clay. Wawrinka’s motivation level should be much higher after losing to Paire last week and he also knows this his last chance to pick up confidence prior to Paris.
Pick: Wawrinka in 2
(8) Dominic Thiem vs. Pablo Cuevas
Thiem and Cuevas also just faced each other in Madrid. In fact, their recent battle came only four days ago–because it took place in the semifinals. A 6-4, 6-4 victory in the Austrian’s favor sent him through to the title match, which he eventually lost 7-6(8) 6-4 in a high-quality affair with Rafael Nadal. Thiem, who is now an even 1-1 against Cuevas (lost 7-6(7), 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-5) in round two of the 2015 French Open), is 14-3 on clay this season and 26-11 overall.
Although Thiem advanced farther in Madrid, Cuevas has actually played more tennis of late. Unlike his seventh-ranked opponent, the unseeded Uruguayan did not get the benefit of a first-round bye in either Madrid or Rome and four of his matches last week went to three sets. Cuevas got right back in action on Tuesday and took care of qualifier Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 7-6(2). The world No. 23 is 16-9 this year and 10 of his victories have come on the red stuff. In a showdown between two men with less than full gas tanks, Thiem should have an edge by being able to shorten points with his serve and forehand.
Pick: Thiem in 3