5 Things We Learned At The Internazionali BNL d'Italia
1. Zverev Shows The Future Is NowAlexander Zverev has long been touted as a future star of the ATP World Tour, but the German proved he’s ready to shine now by taking the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title over Novak Djokovic. The 20 year old is the youngest Masters 1000 title winner in a decade and will hit a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 10 on Monday.
Not only is Zverev almost a guaranteed lock to qualify for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan from 7-11 November, but he moves to fourth in the Emirates ATP Race to London as he looks to make his first ATP Finals appearance. Already showing the composure and maturity of a seasoned veteran, Zverev seems poised to remain at the top of the game for many years to come.
2. Djokovic Continues Steady Return To FormDjokovic put the whispers about his level of tennis to rest by powering to the Rome final without dropping a set. His quarter-final win over Juan Martin del Potro and semi-final victory against Dominic Thiem showed the dominance that fans have grown accustomed to in recent years, with Djokovic firing winners at will while hitting minimal unforced errors.
With Andre Agassi slated to work with Djokovic during Roland Garros, the nuggets of wisdom that the always astute Agassi imparts will only benefit the Serbian as he looks to defend his title in Paris.
3. Thiem Confirms Top Contender StatusDominic Thiem accomplished the seemingly impossible task of defeating Rafael Nadal en route to a semi-final finish in Rome, gaining revenge on the Spaniard for losses to him in the Barcelona and Madrid finals. Although Thiem ran out of his steam 24 hours later against Djokovic, he has established himself as one of the top players on this surface.
Thiem’s supreme fitness – Rome is his 13th tournament of 2017 – means that he’ll be fully recovered from his backlog of matches after a brief rest period. It will take an impressive performance from one of the world’s best players to halt him at Roland Garros.
4. Rafa Won't Coast To Victory At Roland GarrosPlenty of fans had already penciled Nadal in for a 10th title at Roland Garros, but his quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros showed he's not invincible on red clay. The comparatively bad day at the office, which ended his unbeaten 17-match win streak on red dirt this season, was understandable given the volume of matches Nadal has played over the past month. Although he still remains an on-paper favourite to prevail in Paris, his peers in the locker room will take inspiration from knowing he can be defeated with a truly inspired day of tennis.
5. Herbert/Mahut Rekindle MagicPierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut ended a 10-month title drought by winning a hard-fought final over Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers. The popular French duo did it the hard way, saving match points in their opening-round and quarter-final victories, and prevailing in a Match Tie-break for the semi-finals and final.
With three different teams winning the clay-court Masters 1000 events this season, it’s anyone’s guess who will prevail at Roland Garros.