The fifth Masters 1000 of the year, Italian Open is all set to host the best players on tour. The tournament has a rich history dating back to the 1930’s, when it was first held in Milan. After undergoing a change in location multiple times through the decades, it has remained in Rome since 1987. It is one of the most prestigious clay court tournaments and is the last masters before Roland Garros. Rafael Nadal is the most successful player in Rome, boasting a record 7 titles while Novak Djokovic has 4 titles to his credit.
Rome Masters 2017: Analysing the Italian Open Draw
The first quarter looks really tricky. It has the world number 1 Sir Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, Alexander Zverev and Tomas Berdych who are the big names featuring here. The home favorite Fabio Fognini could elate the crowd through some spirited performance. The young gun Alexander Zverev has been improving his game and continues to add titles to his name. Milos Raonic has been struggling since his injury and would look to go deep in this tournament. Big servers Ivo Karlovic and Mischa Zverev could stun the seeded players. Reigning Champion Murray who has been battling throughout the clay court season would love to regain his mojo by defending his title. Andy Murray has a lot of hurdles in his path to the semi finals, but should be able to get through.
The second quarter is interestingly and evenly poised. Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic, David Goffin, Ramos Vinolas, Fernando Verdasco and John Isner all contribute to a riveting line-up. Ramos Vinolas has been playing some inspired tennis throughout the clay court season which landed him a berth in the finals of Monte Carlo, will look to extend his good form here. The Belgian superstar David Goffin has been sensational by knocking out top 10 players like Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic in this clay court season. Both Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic would aim for their first title here at Rome. With the current form and the recent success that he has enjoyed, David Goffin would be one of the favorites to reach the semis.
The third quarter in which Nadal finds himself is a relatively easier draw. There is no stiff competition for the King of Clay until the quarter finals where he might face the athletic and in form Austrian Dominic Thiem who has made two consecutive finals which includes the Barcelona and Madrid Open. Still, the only big names in the draw are Nadal and Thiem, while Lucas Pouille and Pablo Cuevas could make a huge impact to the way this quarter progresses. Cuevas, the semifinalist at Madrid open 2017, has had good success on this surface, thereby making him a good contender in this quarter. Lucas Pouille is capable of bringing about some huge upsets. The Americans, Jack Sock and Sam Querrey would look to improve their form on clay courts. Rafael Nadal would look to extend his winning streak and should be comfortably on his way to the semi finals.
The last quarter is neither too tricky nor too easy. Four time champion Novak Djokovic headlines this quarter. Spanish sensation Bautista Agut is someone to watch out for, while players like Simon and Kyrgios are capable of very strong performances that could potentially alter the proceedings of this quarter. The Asian number one Kei Nishikori who has been plagued by injuries this season would hope to remain fit and compete for the title. Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov who held several match points yet lost narrowly in the quarters of Madrid open would try to improve his performance here. Novak Djokovic would like to his regain his form by winning his fifth title here and carry the momentum to defend his French Open title.
Some opening round matches to look out for
Tomas Berdych vs Mischa Zverev
Ramos Vinolas vs John Isner
Feliciano Lopez vs David Ferrer
Grigor Dimitrov vs Juan Martin Del Potro
Nick Kyrgios vs Roberto Bautista Agut
While the top two players Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are still trying to find their feet on the red dirt this season, Rafael Nadal is playing his best tennis on his most favourable surface and is the clear favourite to win this title for an unprecedented eighth time.