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Isner, Robredo In Sunday Rome Action

Rome, Italy

IsnerGetty ImagesJohn Isner opens his campaign against Jurgen Melzer.

• SPOTLIGHT ON ROME: The Internazionali BNL D’Italia, the fifth ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the season, is headlined by 18 of the top 20 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 56-man field is led by world No. 1 and seven-time champion Rafael Nadal, who returns to the Italian capital for the 10th time. World No. 2 and two-time titlist Novak Djokovic is the other former winner in the draw. Nadal and Djokovic have accounted for the past nine titles since 2005.

• DAY 1 PREVIEW: John Isner and Tommy Robredo headline the action on the opening day of play at the Foro Italico. No. 9 seed Isner, who is set to drop out of the top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday, goes up against Jurgen Melzer for the fourth time with the Austrian leading their FedEx H2H series 2-1. No. 16 seed Robredo will look to overturn a 3-2 H2H deficit when he takes on Juan Monaco. There are a total of six main draw singles matches on Sunday’s schedule, while the final round of qualifying will also conclude today. 

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• NO.1 SPOT UPDATE: The coveted world No. 1 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings could change hands this week. If Nadal repeats his title in Madrid on Sunday, he will have 12,900 points and be guaranteed to stay No. 1 after Rome. If he’s runner-up in Madrid, however, he would then need to reach the SF in Rome to remain at No. 1. If he doesn’t reach the SF and Djokovic wins the title, then the Serb will return to the summit of the rankings. This week marks Nadal’s 32nd week in a row at No. 1 (since Oct. 7, 2013) and the 134th overall.

• NO.1 SPOT IN MAY: The last time the No. 1 ranking changed hands in May was in 2003 when Lleyton Hewitt took over the top spot from Andre Agassi. The Aussie would hold onto it for five weeks, before going on to spend 80 weeks in total at the summit, which is the 10th most. 

• KEY TO REACHING NO. 1? In the past four years (and six of the last eight), the year-end No. 1 has won the most ATP Masters 1000 matches during that season. Here’s a look at the year-end No. 1 players and their ATP Masters 1000 win-loss record those years:

Year Year-End No. 1 W-L Titles
2013 Rafael Nadal 35-3 5
2012 Novak Djokovic 34-6 3
2011 Novak Djokovic 33-1 5
2010 Rafael Nadal 29-5 3
2008 Rafael Nadal 32-6 3
2006 Roger Federer 34-3 4

• DEFENDING CHAMPION: This is Nadal’s 10th straight appearance in Rome. He has reached the final eight times, winning the title a record seven times (2005-07, ‘09-10, ‘12-13). He was runner-up to Djokovic in 2011 and the only time he didn’t reach the final was in 2008 (l. to Ferrero in 2R). Nadal has a 41-2 career record in Rome. This is the third time he arrives here as world No. 1 (‘09, ‘11). Ahead of the Madrid final, the Spaniard has a 13-2 record on clay this year. The last time he lost more than two matches on clay in a season was 2004 (14-3). For the past nine years (2005-13), he has won at least two European ATP World Tour clay court titles coming into Roland Garros.

• FEDERER CHASING ELUSIVE CROWN: Last year’s runner-up Roger Federer returns to action after he and wife Mirka welcomed twin sons (Lenny and Leo) into the family on May 6. Rome is one of three ATP Masters 1000 titles missing from Federer’s collection (along with Monte-Carlo and Shanghai). The Swiss is making his 14th appearance in the Italian capital (27-13). He has reached the final here three times: 2003 (l. to Mantilla), 2006 (l. to Nadal) and 2013 (l. to Nadal).

• DJOKOVIC RETURNS FROM INJURY: The No. 2 seed, who withdrew from Madrid last week with a right wrist injury, is back in Rome for the eighth straight year. The Serb has a 24-5 career record here, reaching the QFs or better every year. He won the title in 2008 (d. Wawrinka) and 2011 (d. Nadal). Three of his losses have come to Nadal (2007 QF; 2009, 2012 final). He is 13-1 in ATP Masters 1000 events this season, winning titles in Indian Wells (d. Federer) and Miami (d. Nadal).

• BOUNCING BACK: Stanislas Wawrinka will be looking to bounce back this week after losing to youngster Dominic Thiem in his opening match in Madrid last Tuesday. The Swiss won his first ever Masters 1000 crown in Monte-Carlo last month (d. Federer in F). In the 36 Masters 1000 tournaments before Monte-Carlo, Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray had accounted for 34 titles (28 of the past 29 since 2011). The only exceptions over the last four years had come in Paris-Bercy in 2010 (Soderling) and 2012 (Ferrer). Wawrinka, who reached the final here in 2008, is 6-0 vs. top 10 opponents this season. 

• HISTORY MAKER: Kei Nishikori is set to crack the top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings at the expense of John Isner this week. The 24 year old will become the first player from his country to break the top 10 after a final run in Madrid. The last Asian player to rank in the top 10 was Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan on March 29, 2004 at No. 10. The Japanese No. 1 is attempting to become the first Asian to win an ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid later today. 

• HOME HOPES: Fabio Fognini is the No. 1 Italian in the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 15. The 26 year old has a 3-6 career record in his home country tournament, reaching the 2R three times. The Italian No. 2 Andreas Seppi was a quarter-finalist two years ago, while wild card Filippo Volandri is set to make his 14th straight appearance (14-13 record). His best result was a SF outing in 2007 (l. to Gonzalez). Overall there are six Italians in the main draw, not including possible qualifiers. The last Italian winner was Adriano Panatta in 1976 (d. Vilas in F).

• 2014 MATCH-WIN LEADERS: Nadal, who will be bidding for his 30th win of the season when he takes on Nishikori in the Madrid final, leads the way in terms of match wins this season. Federer remains on 28 wins after withdrawing from Madrid last week. It took the Swiss until Hamburg in July to reach 28 wins last season. 

Rank Player 2014 W-L
1 Rafael Nadal 29-5
2 Roger Federer 28-5
T3 Kei Nishikori 27-4
T3 Marin Cilic 27-9
T5 Tomas Berdych 26-7
T5 Fabio Fognini 26-9

• CLAY MATCH-WIN LEADERS: Nadal, who has the best ever career match-win percentage on clay (.930), became the 11th player in the Open Era to win at least 300 matches on clay in Monte-Carlo last month. Countryman Carlos Moya was the last player to win at least 300 career matches on the surface in 2007. Federer is just six wins from hitting the 200 surface milestone. Here’s a look at the active win leaders on clay:

• CLAY-COURT TITLE LEADERS: Nadal is three clay-court titles away from equaling Guillermo Vilas’ all-time record of 46 crowns on the surface. He could move to within two of Vilas’ haul after today’s final in Madrid. The top five all-time title leaders on clay are Vilas (46), Nadal (43), Thomas Muster (40), Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes (both 30). 

• HOT STREAK: World No. 1 Bob and Mike Bryan are closing in on 100 Tour-level titles. They were attempting to capture their 99th title together on Sunday in Madrid (Mike has 100 overall, Bob 98). IF they win on Sunday, they will enter Rome on a 25-match unbeaten run. They compiled a career-best winning streak of 25 last year. Since a runner-up finish in Memphis (l. to Butorac/Klaasen) in February, they have won titles in Delray Beach, Indian Wells, Miami, Houston and Monte-Carlo. They are three-time winners in Rome (2008, ‘10, ‘13).

DAY 1 FEDEX ATP HEAD 2 HEADS

CENTRALE


Pablo Andujar (ESP) vs Radek Stepanek (CZE)

FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

[9] John Isner (USA) vs [PR] Jurgen Melzer (AUT)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Melzer leads 2-1

[16] Tommy Robredo (ESP) vs Juan Monaco (ARG)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Monaco leads 3-2

GRANDSTAND

Robin Haase (NED) vs Jeremy Chardy (FRA)

FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) vs Joao Sousa (POR)

FedEx Head 2 Head: First ATP World Tour meeting

Jerzy Janowicz (POL) vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Janowicz leads 1-0

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