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Ricky’s picks for Saturday at the Rome Masters, as Alcaraz gets back in action

Carlos Alcaraz will kick off his Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign on Saturday, when second-round action comes to a close. Alcaraz is goin up against Albert Ramos-Vinolas in an all-Spanish showdown. Meanwhile, Daniil Medvedev will see Emil Ruusuvuori on the other side of the net.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas vs. (2) Carlos Alcaraz

Alcaraz and Ramos-Vinolas will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers. All three of their previous encounters have come on clay and all have been won by Alcaraz, but Ramos-Vinolas has been competitive. The left-handed veteran extended his fellow Spaniard to a third-set tiebreaker at the 2020 Umag tournament and their 2022 Roland Garros contest was a memorable 6-1, 6-7(7), 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4 affair in which ARV had a match point in the fifth set.

It’s unlikely that Ramos-Vinolas gets so close to victory again in this matchup. The 35-year-old did well to beat Francesco Passaro 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the Rome first round, but he is still a dreadful 6-14 for the 2023 campaign. Meanwhile, Alcaraz is 29-2 this season with clay-court triumphs in Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid plus a title at the Indian Wells Masters. All signs point to Alcaraz rolling in this one.
Pick: Alcaraz in 2

Emil Ruusuvuori vs. (3) Daniil Medvedev

Medvedev has been one of the best players on tour this year, but it’s hard to have much confidence in him this fortnight considering the conditions. Clay is obviously the Russian’s worst surface and it is playing pretty slow. He didn’t even have a great result in Madrid, where conditions are much faster. Amazingly enough, Medvedev has never won a single match in Rome. The 27-year-old is 0-3 lifetime in the Italian capital.

His opening match won’t be easy, either, as Ruusuvuori is in fine form. The 43rd-ranked Finn advanced to the third round in Indian Wells, the QFs in Miami, the third round in Barcelona, and pushed Alcaraz in a close three-setter two weeks ago in Madrid. Ruusuvuori is coming off a hard-fought defeat of Ugo Humbert on Thursday and should be able to maintain his momentum at the expense of a vulnerable opponent.

Pick: Ruusuvuori in 3

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