INTERNAZIONALI BNL D'ITALIA 2012
Big Four Lead Star-Studded Rome Line-Up
by Greg Sharko|
The 77th edition of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, the fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, features a star-studded field with 23 of the Top 25 players in the South African Airways ATP Rankings at the Foro Italico in Rome.
Leading the way are reigning champ and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who won his second title (2008) in Rome last year, defeating five-time champion Rafael Nadal in the final. The No. 3/two-time runner-up Roger Federer is in the top half of the draw and could meet Djokovic in the semi-finals. Nadal is in the bottom half along with No. 4 Andy Murray, who reached the semi-finals last year.
Djokovic opens his title defence against the winner of Bernard Tomic and a qualifier; the first seed he could meet is No. 14 Juan Monaco in the third round. Monaco returns from an ankle injury he suffered in Monte-Carlo on 17 April. Monaco’s best result in Rome is the quarter-finals in 2009. Monaco could have a tough second-round match against the winner of Radek Stepanek and countryman Juan Ignacio Chela.
In the quarter-finals, Djokovic could meet No. 5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or No. 10 Juan Martin del Potro. Del Potro takes on Michael Llodra in the first round and in the second round could meet top Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci or Mikhail Youzhny.
In the second quarter of the draw, Federer after a bye, plays a qualifier or Carlos Berlocq; in the third round he could meet No. 13 Gael Monfils. The Frenchman opens with Alex Bogomolov Jr. In the quarter-finals, No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic or No. 9 John Isner are possible seeded opponents for Federer. Isner has a tough first-round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who has won nine of his past 10 opening-round matches this season. Tipsarevic will play the winner of Swiss No. 2 and 2008 Rome runner-up Stanislas Wawrinka or a qualifier.
In the bottom half of the draw (third quarter), No. 4 Andy Murray, is the highest seed and he plays the winner of a qualifier or former World No. 3 David Nalbandian, who reached the final in Rome in 2004. Murray is 4-2 lifetime against Nalbandian, winning the past four meetings but they have never met on clay. In the third round, Murray could play No. 16 seed Richard Gasquet, who plays Jurgen Melzer in first round, or former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko.
In the quarter-finals, Murray could take on No. 6 and 2010 runner-up David Ferrer or No. 11 Gilles Simon. The most intriguing first round is a first-time meeting between unseeded (No. 19) Fernando Verdasco and (No. 20) Alexandr Dolgopolov, both coming off quarter-final efforts in Madrid. The winner will play Ferrer.
In the final quarter, No. 2 Nadal has a tough opener against the winner of Milos Raonic and Florian Mayer. Nadal has a 31-2 career mark in Rome, winning a tournament-record five titles. Raonic is playing a Top 4 opponent for the third straight tournament, having beaten No. 4 Murray in Barcelona and losing last week in a third set tie-break to No. 3 Federer in Madrid.
In the third round, Nadal could play countryman and No. 15 seed Feliciano Lopez or another countryman Marcel Granollers. In the quarter-finals, No. 7 and Madrid finalist Tomas Berdych and No. 12 Nicolas Almagro are possible seeded opponents. Almagro has a tough opener against former Top 10 Marin Cilic.