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Ricky’s Tennis Picks For The Rome Masters • Roger, Rafa, Novak • More

Switzerland's Roger Federer in action during his quarter final match against Austria's Dominic Thiem at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, 10 May 2019. EPA-EFE/KIKO HUESCA

Ricky’s picks for the last clay-court Masters 1000 event in Rome


By Ricky Dimon


Monte-Carlo…. Madrid…. Rome. The world’s top players—plus plenty of others—are now moving to Rome for their final French Open prep. It’s another loaded field; one that unexpectedly includes Roger Federer. The 37-year-old was thought to be playing only Madrid prior to Roland Garros, but that plan has changed and he will join Madrid champion Novak Djokovic, defending Rome Rafael Nadal, and Barcelona winner Dominic Thiem.



Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Where: Rome, Italy
Prize money: 5,207,405 Euros
Top seed: Novak Djokovic
Defending champion: Rafael Nadal


It was assumed that Federer would not play Rome, but he was always on the entry list and never officially withdrew. Thus when Friday’s draw ceremony took place, there was Federer’s name in the field of 56. Who knew!?!? The Swiss’ draw is mostly favorable, too, because—unlike in Madrid—he avoided Thiem as his nearest 5-8 seed. But that’s not to say a trip to the semis will be easy. Federer could run into Borna Coric or Felix Auger-Aliassime in round three before potentially meeting Stefanos Tsitsipas or Fabio Fognini in the QFs.


Whereas Federer is playing with no kind of pressure, Nadal will be desperate to grab one clay title prior to Paris. Surprisingly, the Spaniard came up short in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid–not even reaching the final at any of those places. A Federer-Nadal semifinal is possible in Rome, but the second seed is in the same section as Thiem—a rough draw for both.


Djokovic awaits either Denis Shapovalov or Pablo Carreno Busta in his Rome opener. Both Marco Cecchinato and Philipp Kohlschreiber have upset the current world No. 1 in the past year and could get another shot at him in round three. Juan Martin Del Potro is a potential quarterfinal foe for Djokovic, but perhaps Stan Wawrinka or Daniil Medvedev is more likely.


Wawrinka opens with a tough one against David Goffin, while Medvedev faces Nick Kyrgios.


An up-for-grabs second section includes Alexander Zverev, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, and Gael Monfils. Zverev, the Rome runner-up last spring, is slumping; Nishikori has cooled off following a hot start to the season; Cilic reached the Madrid QFs but withdrew due to illness prior to a scheduled match Djokovic; Monfils is playing well when healthy but is always a question mark from a physical standpoint. The door could be open for in-form Italian Matteo Berrettini or the winner of a first-rounder between Grigor Dimitrov and Jan-Lennard Struff.


First-round upset possibility: (WC) Lorenzo Sonego over (11) Karen Khachanov. Not only does Sonego have home-court advantage in front of what is always a rowdy Italian crowd in Rome, but he also just beat Khachanov in straight sets in Monte-Carlo. Moreover, Khachanov has been a disaster this season. The Russian was an alternate at the Nitto ATP Finals last year, but in 2019 he has a losing record (8-11).

Quarterfinal picks: Stan Wawrinka over Novak Djokovic, Gael Monfils over Guido Pella, Roger Federer over Fabio Fognini, and Rafael Nadal over Dominic Thiem

Semifinals: Monfils over Wawrinka and Nadal over Federer

Final: Nadal over Monfils


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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