Rome R2 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Almagro, Del Potro vs. Edmund

Rafael Nadal will begin his bid for a fourth consecutive clay-court title when he opens in Rome against fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro on Wednesday. Juan Martin Del Potro and Kyle Edmund are also in second-round action.

(4) Rafael Nadal vs. (Q) Nicolas Almagro

Nadal and Almagro will be squaring off for the 16th time in their careers when they meet again in round two of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Wednesday. The head-to-head series stands at 14-1 in favor of Nadal, who is 10-1 at his compatriot’s expense on clay. Almagro’s lone victory came via a 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 decision three years ago at Barcelona, but the much more heralded Spaniard has since reeled off four wins in a row.

Speaking of strings of successive wins, Nadal is a perfect 15-0 on clay this season and has lifted three straight trophies in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid. The world No. 4 improved to 34-5 overall in 2017 when he defeated Dominic Thiem 7-6(8), 6-4 in last Sunday’s Madrid final. Almagro is no stranger to tough second-round draws at Masters 1000 tournaments; he lost to David Goffin at this stage in Monte-Carlo and to Novak Djokovic in the last 32 in Madrid (7-5 in the third set after leading 3-0). The world No. 73 evened his record at 8-8 this year by knocking out Italy’s own Andreas Seppi 7-6(6), 6-3 on Monday. Almagro is in fine form and Nadal struggled in his opening matches in both Monte-Carlo and Madrid, so this should be competitive–but it also won’t result in an upset.

Pick: Nadal in 2 losing 8-10 games

Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Kyle Edmund

Del Potro currently registers at 34th in the rankings, but a win over Grigor Dimitrov on Monday and at least one top 32 player (Roger Federer) withdrawing from the French Open means the Argentine is already in good shape for a seed at the season’s second Grand Slam. That is quite an accomplishment because Del Potro has played sparingly to preserve the health of his left wrist, but he has played well in his limited appearances. The 2009 U.S. Open champion is 8-4 this year (2-0 on clay) with a semifinal showing in Delray Beach and third-round finishes in Indian Wells and Miami.

Up next for Del Potro is a first-ever meeting with Edmund, who advanced on Monday by beating Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-4. The 53rd-ranked Brit took a set off Nadal at the Monte-Carlo Masters (no other opponent managed that feat), but he also got blown out by Thiem in Barcelona and suffered an awful loss in Estoril to Portuguese wild card Joao Domingues. Edmund’s lack of consistency is such that he will not have the upper hand in this battle of big forehands.

Pick: Del Potro in 2


6 Comments on Rome R2 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Almagro, Del Potro vs. Edmund

    • You could be right. Symptoms of that injury match up with what we saw onscreen: the sudden pain after the foot made contact with the court, the hobbling and the immediate retirement. If you’re right it’s very nasty indeed and Almagro won’t play anytime soon 🙁
      While the avoidance of a potentially gruelling match is of course good for Rafa’s RG campaign I can’t help thinking that this could’ve happened to him, too…as last year’s RG was over for him after only two rounds, although he was in good shape.
      So many things have to fall into place for winning a slam, and some things can’t be controlled by the players.

      • No Rafa wasn’t in good shape at last year’s RG He had the wrist problem. I think he had it from Madrid but was cleared to play Rome. He withdrew from RG when his doctor told him that if he played five more best of fives with that wrist, it could break. But yes, Rafa probably had ACL when he got injured in 2012 resulting in him having to sit out the rest of the season.
        Last year he came back from injury too soon to play in the Olympics. If he had waited for his wrist to heal completely, his return this year might have been like in 2013. He would have swept AO, IW, Miami and there wouldn’t have been all the nonsense from Fedfawns thinking Fed’s new backhand can now defeat Rafa on clay!!!

        • Mary says AT 6:21 PM: “Rafa probably had ACL when he got injured in 2012 resulting in him having to sit out the rest of the season.”
          Rafa was diagnosed with Hoffa’s disease in his left knee in the middle of the 2012 and because of that he was off the Tour for 7 months (until Feb. 2013). He got his pain under control, but he
          still had some pain during the whole year 2013. He underwent stem cell treatment on his left knee at the end of 2013 and it helped him.

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