Rome Draw: Returning Finalists Nadal & Djokovic In Same Half
One year after Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in a three-set final at the 2021 Internazionali BNL d'Italia, the two most successful players in ATP Masters 1000 history have been drawn in the same half for next week's event.
Five-time champion Djokovic, who can still add to his record 37 ATP Masters 1000 titles in Madrid, is the top seed in Rome. He could face Aslan Karatsev in his opening match, where the Serbian would be looking to avenge a semi-final loss on the clay of Belgrade last year. One of the more intriguing opening-round matches could yield Djokovic's third-round opponent: 14th seed Reilly Opelka takes on Stan Wawrinka, who will be competing in his second ATP Tour match of the season as he returns from a foot injury.
Eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, a quarter-finalist in Madrid, is the next-highest seed in Djokovic's quarter. The Canadian could face Monte Carlo finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round and 2020 Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman in the third round.
Nadal, seeded third, is a 36-time ATP Masters 1000 champ. His 10 Rome titles are his most at any event at that level outside of his 11 in Monte Carlo. The 35-year-old will be competing in his second event after a six-week injury layoff as he continues his return from a rib fracture. The Spaniard could open against John Isner, with fifth seed Casper Ruud — a former Rome semi-finalist who returns after missing out on the 2021 event — a potential quarter-final opponent.
Alexander Zverev leads the draw's bottom half as the second seed, with the 2017 Rome champion set to open play against a qualifier in the second round. Madrid semi-finalist Carlos Alcaraz looms as a potential quarter-final opponent, with the seventh-seeded Spaniard possibly facing a tricky opening match against Cristian Garin.
Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov are in line to meet for the third time in as many events following wins for the Greek in Barcelona and Madrid. Dimitrov will need to get past a qualifier to set up that encounter.
Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner are also in Tsitsipas' quarter, as is Dominic Thiem, who will seek the first victory of his return from a right-wrist injury against Fabio Fognini. The winner there could face 10th seed Sinner in the second round.
The 2022 Internazionali BNL d'Italia will be played from 8-15 May at the Foro Italico in Rome. It is the fifth of the nine ATP Masters 1000 events on the 2022 calendar, and the third and final clay-court tournament at that level.