Berdych, Shapovalov Headline Packed Day 3 In Rome
A year ago, Tomas Berdych was celebrating yet another career milestone at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. The Czech veteran won match No. 600 at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in 2017, becoming only the 25th player in ATP World Tour history to join the elite club.
But 12 months later, Berdych is in a much different place as he attempts to get his 2018 back on track. The 32-year-old has yet to reach a tour-level final this season, and has gone 2-4 in his past four tournaments, all Masters 1000 events.
Denis Shapovalov, Berdych's Tuesday opponent in Rome, has been on the opposite track. The 19-year-old had never won an ATP World Tour match on clay before last week's Mutua Madrid Open. Shapovalov then proceeded to beat Houston finalist Tennys Sandgren, Benoit Paire of France, top countryman Milos Raonic and Britain's No. 1 Kyle Edmund to make his second Masters 1000 semi-final (l. to eventual champion Zverev).
The #NextGenATP left-hander enters Rome at a new career-high of No. 29 in the ATP Rankings, and if he can beat Berdych and even their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (0-1), Shapovalov will pass Raonic in the ATP Rankings on 21 May and become the No. 1 Canadian.
Shapovalov and Berdych previously played at the 2017 Fever-Tree Championships in London, a 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-5 win for the 6'5" right-hander.
Greek No. 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas, another Next Gen ATP Finals contender, will also be in action on Tuesday. The No. 43 player in the ATP Rankings meets Croatia's Borna Coric, who has reached two Masters 1000 quarter-finals this season (Indian Wells, Miami). It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
Tsitsipas is looking to continue his strong start to the European clay-court season. The 19-year-old made his first tour-level final at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell last month (l. to Nadal) and his third tour-level semi-final earlier this month at the Millennium Estoril Open (l. to eventual champion Sousa). Coric, meanwhile, after reaching two Masters 1000 quarter-finals this season on hard courts, will try to do the same on clay in Rome.
Fourth seed Marin Cilic will conclude a busy day on Centrale against American Ryan Harrison. Cilic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-1, including a 6-3, 6-2 win last year in Rome. The top Croatian missed the Mutua Madrid Open because of a knee injury.
Jack Sock, who, like Cilic, qualified for the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, will try to win two matches in a row for the first time this season when he meets German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber. Sock is 5-8 on the year but picked up a straight-sets win against Spain's David Ferrer in his Rome opener.
Other seeded players in action include ninth seed David Goffin, who will face home favourite Marco Cecchinato of Italy; 16th seed Lucas Pouille plays an Italian as well in wild card Andreas Seppi; and Argentina's Diego Schwartzman, the 14th seed, will try to improve to 4-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Nicolas Jarry of Chile.