Preview: #NextGenATP Italians Musetti & Sinner Begin Rome Runs Monday
#NextGenATP Italian stars Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner have captured the tennis world’s attention over the past couple of years, and on Monday they will take centre stage at home in Rome for their first-round clashes at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Musetti will face a stiff test against 15th seed Hubert Hurkacz, who just won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami. This will be their first ATP Head2Head clash. The 19-year-old Italian will surely have positive flashbacks as he walks onto Grand Stand Arena at the Foro Italico to take on the Polish No. 1.
Last September, Musetti stepped into the spotlight in Rome as a qualifier. The teen, who was No. 249 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, stunned Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori to reach the third round. Hurkacz also made a good run in Rome eight months ago, when he defeated Daniel Evans and Andrey Rublev each in three sets.
For Sinner, this will be his third main draw appearance at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and he will face a tricky foe in French lefty Ugo Humbert, who beat him in four sets at the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals (Sinner lifted the trophy).
“It’s good to be back. For me, it's one of the most beautiful tournaments that we are going to play on each year,” Sinner said. “It's nice to be here. I like the conditions.”
Two years ago, a 17-year-old Sinner claimed his first Masters 1000 win in Rome against Steve Johnson. Last season, he upset Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the third round. He will try to get off to another good start at this tournament against Humbert.
One of the most intriguing matches of the day features two former Top 10 players: Italian Fabio Fognini and former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori. The Japanese star leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, but Fognini claimed their last clash in the Miami quarter-finals four years ago.
They have both enjoyed success in Rome, with Nishikori making the semi-finals in 2016 and Fognini advancing to the quarter-finals in 2018. But this will surely be a baseline battle between two of the cleanest ball-strikers on the ATP Tour.
Another interesting clash will pit Daniel Evans against Taylor Fritz in their first meeting. Both players have made a semi-final on clay in 2021, with Evans reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final in Monte-Carlo and Fritz battling to the last four in Cagliari.
The winner will play World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round. In Monte-Carlo, Evans stunned Djokovic for the biggest win of his career.
In other action, former World No. 3 Marin Cilic will take on in-form Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik. Last year in Rome, Cilic defeated Bublik in three sets. Aslan Karatsev, the breakthrough star of 2021, will try to maintain his form against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in their first meeting. This will be Karatsev’s Rome debut.
ORDER OF PLAY - MONDAY, 10 MAY 2021
CENTER COURT start 10:00 am
ATP - D. Evans (GBR) vs T. Fritz (USA)
ATP - U. Humbert (FRA) vs J. Sinner (ITA)
GRAND STAND ARENA start 10:00 am
ATP - [WC] S. Travaglia (ITA) vs B. Paire (FRA)
ATP - K. Nishikori (JPN) vs F. Fognini (ITA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP -  H. Hurkacz (POL) vs [WC] L. Musetti (ITA)
PIETRANGELI start 10:00 am
following two WTA matches…
ATP - L. Harris (RSA) vs C. Garin (CHI)
ATP - [WC] G. Mager (ITA) vs A. de Minaur (AUS)
ATP - M. Cilic (CRO) vs A. Bublik (KAZ)
COURT 2 start 10:00 am
ATP - G. Pella (ARG) vs M. Fucsovics (HUN)
ATP - M. Kecmanovic (SRB) vs A. Karatsev (RUS)
ATP - K. Khachanov (RUS) vs [Q] F. Delbonis (ARG)
ATP - [Q] H. Dellien (BOL) vs A. Mannarino (FRA)
ATP - [LL] A. Bedene (SLO) vs J. Struff (GER)
COURT 4 start 12:00 noon
ATP - J. Peers (AUS) / M. Venus (NZL) vs A. Krajicek (USA) / O. Marach (AUT)
ATP -  J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) vs M. Demoliner (BRA) / D. Medvedev (RUS)
ATP - R. Bopanna (IND) / D. Shapovalov (CAN) vs M. Daniell (NZL) / P. Oswald (AUT)
ATP - Alternate vs H. Kontinen (FIN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)