Scouting Report: Top Stars Battle For Rome Title
Clay-Court Circuit Continues In Rome: The fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year is in Rome, where 17 of the Top 20 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings will descend. The Internazionali BNL d'Italia first took place in 1930 and has been held every year since 1950. Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal looks for another title in Rome and is joined by fellow former winners Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Murray is the top seed, with Djokovic seeded second, Stan Wawrinka third and Nadal fourth.
10 THINGS TO KNOW IN ROME
1) Title Trio: Murray, Djokovic and Nadal return to Rome, where they have combined for the past 12 titles here. Including Roger Federer, the Big Four has won 36 of 39 ATP Masters 1000 titles since 2013 (92%), 74 of 84 since 2008 (88%) and 95 of 111 since 2005 (86%). Nadal would boost those stats by winning Sunday’s Madrid final.
2) Murray to Defend Title: World No. 1 Murray won his first of nine titles in 2016 at Rome, finishing the season on a 61-4 run after arriving at Foro Italico with a 17-5 record. Murray, who turns 30 on Monday, has played the same number of matches entering Rome this year (16-6, 1 title at Dubai).
3) Same Half for Djokovic, Nadal: Djokovic, a four-time Rome champion, is on the same half of the draw as Nadal for the fourth time in as many ATP Masters 1000 appearances this year. His seven-match and 15-set win streaks against the Spaniard ended in the Madrid semi-finals on Saturday.
4) Remarkable Rafa: Nadal, a seven-time Rome champion, enters Sunday’s Madrid final against Dominic Thiem or Pablo Cuevas with a total of 29 ATP Masters 1000 titles, one shy of Djokovic’s all-time record 30. The 30-year-old lefty is 14-0 in matches and 28-2 in sets on clay this season.
5) Former Finalists: Three other former finalists are in the Rome main draw. Tommy Haas, the 2002 runner-up, makes his final appearance in Rome before retiring later this season. World No. 3 Wawrinka, the 2008 runner-up, and former No. 3 David Ferrer, the 2010 runner-up, are also back.
6) Major Milestones: Ferrer and No. 12 seed Tomas Berdych are on the verge of major milestones. Fifteen years after his ATP debut, Ferrer is one win from 700 for his career. The Spaniard would join the likes of Djokovic and Nadal as the 13th player to reach 700 victories. Berdych is two wins from becoming the 25th player to earn 600 victories. His coach, Goran Ivanisevic, had 599 wins.
7) #NextGenATP Watch: No. 16 seed Alexander Zverev leads the Emirates ATP Race to Milan. Zverev is joined in the main draw this week by 21-year-old Rome native Matteo Berrettini, the top Italian in the Race to Milan. Fiera Milano hosts the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals November 7-11.
8) Wild Cards: Berrettini is one of four Italian wild cards, joining 32-year-old Andreas Seppi and 22-year-olds Gianluca Mager and Stefano Napolitano. Seppi is making his 12th Rome appearance.
9) Doubles Field: Four-time champions Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan and Daniel Nestor headline the doubles draw. The Bryans have not won a final since 2016 Rome (18 events), the longest drought of their 112-title run that began at 2001 Memphis. Nestor won his first Rome title 20 years ago.
10) First-Round Showdowns: Haas, 39, faces Ivo Karlovic, 38, in the oldest ATP match since Luis Ayala, 49, met Ricardo Cano, 30, at 1982 Vina del Mar. Ferrer seeks his 700th win against fellow 35-year-old Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, Berrettini makes his ATP debut against No. 1 Italian Fabio Fognini, Juan Martin del Potro meets No. 10 seed Grigor Dimitrov, and the highest-ranked unseeded players, No. 20 Nick Kyrgios and No. 21 Roberto Bautista Agut, go head to head.