Sunday, 12 May 2013

ATP Rome: Preview and Predictions

This is the crazy stage of the season and I am struggling to keep up! Here is my preview for the ATP Masters 1000 event, which begins this morning in Rome.  Note - the top eight players have byes in round one.

QUARTER 1 - N.Djokovic (1) v T.Berdych (6)
Tomas Berdych
Novak Djokovic arrived in Rome early following his surprise exit from Madrid at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov.  Madrid was a disappointment but I fully expect him to be back to his best this week.  His first match will be against a qualifier or Martin Klizan.  He could have to deal with Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round, who has been playing some superb tennis during this clay court season; however he has played so much tennis lately, I do not anticipate him to be much of a threat this week.

Another Madrid semi-finalist, Tomas Berdych is in this section and opens up his account against either Denis Istomin or John Isner.  Isner is pretty useful on the clay so if Berdych is still feeling a hangover from a wasteful loss to Wawrinka in Madrid, this could be a tough early match.  Marin Cilic, who has suffered two consecutive first round losses in Munich and Madrid, will be hoping to avoid another one in Rome.  His draw begins with a quallifer and then either Jurgen Melzer or Kevin Anderson in round two.  Anderson has been playing very well lately, but has a 0-3 record against Cilic including a straight sets loss in Monte-Carlo.

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Djokovic v Berdych

QUARTER 2 - D.Ferrer (4) v R.Nadal (5)
Once again, David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal have been drawn into the same quarter and Ferrer will probably be dreading the prospect of playing Nadal again.  Ferrer will play Horacio Zeballos or Fernando Verdasco in the second round.  An interesting first rounder in this section to keep your eyes peeled for is Milos Raonic against Philipp Kohlschreiber.  Raonic lost in a third set tiebreak to Verdasco in Madrid, but did win his only match with Kohlschreiber at the Australian Open this year.

Nadal will definitely play an Italian in the second round as Jelena Jankovic drew fellow drawmakers, Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi against each other.  Seppi had a heroic run in Rome last year, but he has lost his last two matches to Fognini so a big points drop could be on the cards.  Janko Tipsarevic continues to disappoint, but I fancy him to nab at least one win this week with fellow Serb, Viktor Troicki up first.  Jarkko Nieminen could await in round two and he has certainly proved his credentials this year, making a stunning quarter-final run in Monte-Carlo.

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Ferrer v Nadal

QUARTER 3 - J.M. del Potro (7) v A.Murray (3)
Andy Murray
Juan Martin del Potro makes his return to the tour having missed Madrid through illness.  He was well below his best in Monte-Carlo and I have a feeling he will fall early in Rome.  He should get through his first match, but is likely to face a tough third round match with Nicolas Almagro his first projected seed.  Almagro takes on Julien Benneteau in the first round and meets the winner of Juan Monaco and Benoit Paire in round two.  Almagro has always been a very consistent performer on the clay and he is the only player I see upsetting the top eight seeds before the quarters.

There were improvements from Andy Murray in Madrid, but he is still struggling to find his mojo on the clay following a quarter-final loss to Tomas Berdych.  He will play Marcel Granollers or Nikolay Davydenko in his first match in Italy.  Roger Federer's conqueror, Kei Nishikori is a potential third round opponent, but one I would expect Murray to get past.

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Almagro v Murray

QUARTER 4 - J.W.Tsonga (8) v R.Federer (2)
Roger Federer suffered an early exit in Madrid, but it was not much of a surprise having missed eight weeks on the tour.  Rome though will be a crucial tournament for the Fed and will give a strong indication of his chances on the clay for Roland Garros.  It's very likely he could meet Radek Stepanek for the second time in two weeks.  In round three, he might have to play the in-form, Tommy Haas. Haas won their last match on the grass courts of Halle, but I still feel its too early to write off Federer despite an in-different season up till now.  Haas opens against Mikhail Youzhny and is likely to meet Gilles Simon in round two.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga headlines an interesting section that also features Richard Gasquet and Grigor Dimitrov.  Tsonga's first match will be against Jerzy Janowicz or a qualifier.  An all-French third rounder with Gasquet is a possibility, but Gasquet has a tough draw and didn't make it through his first match in Madrid, losing to Daniel Gimeno-Traver.  In the first round, Gasquet plays Sam Querrey today and if form is anything to go by, Dimitrov will await in the second round.  The Bulgarian plays Marcos Baghdatis in the first round and will remain a threat following his taking out of a labouring world number one in Madrid.

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Tsonga v Federer

Final Prediction - Novak Djokovic d. Roger Federer
Madrid saw a lot of upsets, which leads me to believe this week will be more predictable; hence I have not gone for many surprises at all.  I think Djokovic will be very strong this week, taking out Nadal in the semi-finals and Federer in the final.  I am still wary of Fed this week, but I think he will find a way to beat through the rust and make the final with a much better draw than the one he had in Madrid.

You can view my full predictions for Rome HERE

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