Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch In Rome
Seventeen of the Top 20 players are in Rome to play the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, the third and final clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event of the year. Three former champions are in the field: eight-time winner Rafael Nadal, four-time titlist Novak Djokovic, and 2017 winner Alexander Zverev, who account for 13 of the past 14 titles. Roger Federer will make his first Rome appearance since 2016.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN ROME
1. Back for More: Defending champion Nadal is making his 15th consecutive appearance at the Foro Italico and he comes in with a 56-6 record (8-2 in finals) at the tournament. The Spaniard has advanced to the quarter-finals or better in 13 of his 14 previous visits to the Italian capital. Nadal will attempt to become the first player on the ATP Tour this year to defend a title from last season.
2. No. 1 Novak: World No. 1 Djokovic is aiming to hoist the Rome trophy for the first time since 2015, after losses in the final in 2016 (to Andy Murray) and 2017 (to Zverev), and a semi-final loss to Nadal last year. Last Monday, the Serbian started his 250th week at top spot in the ATP Rankings.
3. Roger’s Return: Federer, who is yet to win the Internazionali BNL d'Italia title, comes back to Rome for the first time since a third-round loss to Dominic Thiem on 12 May 2016. That loss to Thiem was the Swiss star’s last clay-court match at any event until he competed in last week’s Mutua Madrid Open, where he reached the quarter-finals before falling to Thiem in three sets.
4. Fabio Eyes Top 10: Top Italian Fabio Fognini is tied for his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 12. Fognini is 10-11 lifetime in Rome, with last year’s quarter-final as his best result. The last Italian in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings was Corrado Barrazzutti on 22 January 1979. Fognini claimed his first Masters 1000 trophy at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
5. Home Hopes: The last Italian man to win the most prestigious title in Italy was Adriano Panatta in 1976. Six other Italians join Fognini in the main draw: Marco Cecchinato, Andreas Seppi and wild cards Matteo Berrettini, Lorenzo Sonego, Andrea Basso, and Jannik Sinner. Earlier this year, 17-year-old Sinner became the youngest-ever Italian to win a Challenger title.
6. Milestone Men: Stan Wawrinka, the 2008 Rome finalist, comes in with 497 career wins. Wawrinka is trying to become the ninth active player to collect 500 tour-level victories. Kei Nishikori is attempting to become the 17th active player to win 100 Masters 1000 matches. Nishikori has a 99-57 record in play at the elite level, with four runner-up finishes.
7. Sascha’s Pursuit: Zverev brings momentum into Rome after reaching the Madrid quarter-finals, where he fell in three sets against eventual finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas. The German is 11-2 at this tournament, and he has reached the final in two straight years, including a triumph in 2017.
8. Dominic In Form: Thiem has won eight of his past nine matches, including a run to the Barcelona title without dropping a set — and a win there against Nadal — as well as advancing to the Madrid semi-finals. The Austrian also claimed his maiden Masters 1000 crown earlier this year at the BNP Paribas Open.
9. Greece is the Word: Tsitsipas comes into Rome as the leader of the ATP Tour in wins, earning his 27th victory of the season in Saturday’s semi-final triumph over Nadal in Madrid. Tsitsipas was ranked No. 43 in Rome last year, and he had to qualify for the main draw.
10. Doubles Duty: Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah picked up their first Masters 1000 crown at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia last year, and the Colombians will be back in Rome to try to defend their title as the third seeds. Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo are the top seeds.