The ATP Rome, or Italian Open as it also known, is one of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, and it is played on clay.
Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic have completely dominated the event in recent years, with Nadal winning 7 of the last 11 renewals, and Djokovic 4, with the Serb World Number-one winning the last two. The pair have also beaten each other in the final twice, though they find themselves in the same half of the draw this year. Other notable runner-ups in recent years include Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and David Ferrer.
Unusually, the top-quarter is an absolute minefield for punters, as Novak Djokovic doesn’t have an easy route to the final. Lying in wait are Phillip Kohlschreiber, Nick Kyrgios, Milos Raonic – and, amazingly, Rafa Nadal. That’s a tough break for the crowd, and the players, and all we can hope for is a Djokovic/Nadal quarter-final. If that’s the case, then Djokovic has to be long odds-on to progress to the semis, as he’s beaten Nadal in their last six encounters, without dropping a set.
Federer has never won here, but his four runner-up finishes suggest he could at least make the semis this year, if in the mood, though I still feel his ageing legs aren’t suited to long rallies on clay any more. If that’s the case, then this quarter looks like a good opportunity for either Dominic Thiem or Kei Nishikori to play Djokovic in the semis. It’s also a quarter that holds Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, and Alexander Dologolpolov, so expect plenty of fireworks.
Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have shared some epic encounters over the years, and the Rome crowd could be treated to another one here. However, both tend to save maximum effort for the grand slams and, with Roland Garros just a couple of weeks away, it would be no surprise if both fell before the semis. It’s tough to pick who might oust the big two though, and Wawrinka may just try and get his eye in having not played too many matches on clay so far this season.
There’s no denying that Andy Murray has his best chance of reaching a final in Rome so far, and only Tomas Berdych looks to stand in his way of reaching the semi-finals. However, he beat him easily last week, and a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Wawrinka may await. However, it is Wawrinka who has won their last three matches, and all three of their matches on clay. He is also one of the few players who boasts a couple of final wins against Djokovic.
Favourite Backers: Novak Djokovic @ 10/11
Each-Way Backers: Stan Wawrinka @ 16/1