2012 ATP Rome Preview
by Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Internazionali BNL d’Italia
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
May 14-May 20 2012
Prize Money: € 2,427,975
Things will attempt to return to normal on the ATP World Tour this week as the final tune up for many of the top players before the French Open, the Rome masters event on red clay. Novak Djokovic tries to defend his title from last year, Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer seek to build off their success in Madrid on the blue clay, Andy Murray returns after pulling out of Madrid last week with injury and Rafael Nadal hopes to start up another winning streak after a disappointing 3rd round loss in Madrid.
Top 8 Seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Rafael Nadal
3: Roger Federer
4: Andy Murray
5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6: David Ferrer
7: Tomas Berdych
8: Janko Tipsarevic
1st round matchups to watch:
(9) John Isner vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Isner seeks to recover from a tough 2nd round loss to Marin Cilic in Madrid and will face an intriguing match-up with Munich champ Kohlschreiber. Both guys have had some good wins on clay this year and It should be interesting to see how they both perform in what is likely their final tune up before the French.
Fernando Verdasco vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov
Verdasco, fresh off a shocking upset of Nadal in Madrid to reach the quarters, will take on Dolgopolov, who reached the quarterfinals himself. Both players are very close in ranking and recent results and it should be a fun match to watch style wise as well. It is a match befitting a later round of the tournament.
Marin Cilic vs (12) Nicolas Almagro
Cilic, who notched a good win over top 10 player and fellow big man on campus John Isner in Madrid, is slowly climbing his way back to the top (he was also a finalist in Munich). He takes on the steady Almagro, who keeps grinding away himself.
(16) Richard Gasquet vs. Jurgen Melzer
Two ATP vets who still notch good results on occasion will battle in out in a battle of backhands (1 hander vs 2 hander) and clay court games.
Fabio Fognini vs. Marcos Baghdatis
Fognini, a wild card and ATP Bucharest finalist, will take on Baghdatis, who always seems to have a trick or two in the bag on home clay. It should be an exciting match.
Top seed Novak Djokovic seeks to defend his title and recover from a quarterfinals loss to countryman Janko Tipsarevic in Madrid. He will start off with either Bernard Tomic or a qualifier before a possible 2nd round match up with the dangerous 14 seed Juan Monaco. It does not get any easier in the quarters as Juan Martin Del Potro, the 10 seed, or 5 seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga are likely match ups.
Tsonga will start off with either Viktor Troicki or Italian wild card Filippo Volandri before a likely 3nd round match up with Del Potro. Del Potro will face veteran Michael Llodra in the 1st round and then either Mikhail Youzhny or Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil. While Tsonga is seeded higher, Del Potro has had better recent results and will likely be favored to advance.
3 seed Roger Federer, Madrid champion, has peformed beyond many expectations after a hiatus. He starts off his efforts in Rome against either Carlos Berlocq or a qualifier before a likely 3rd round match up with 13 seed Gael Monfils, 8 seed Janko Tipsarevic (who he dispatched in the semi finals of Madrid) is a possible quarterfinals match up.
Tipsarevic will seek to build on his upset of Novak Djokovic in Madrid last week, starting off against Stanislas Wawrinka or a qualifier before a 3rd round match up with either Isner, Kohlschreiber, home favorite and top ranked Italian Andreas Seppi or Denis Istomin.
2 seed Rafael Nadal, who is certainly still smarting from his shocking loss to Fernando Verdasco last week in Madrid, will try to return to form against either the dangerous Milos Raonic or Florian Mayer of Germany. From there, he could face fellow Spaniards Feliciano Lopez (15) or Marcel Granollers, Fognini or Baghdatis before a likely 3rd round match up with the man of the moment and 7 seed Tomas Berdych.
Madrid Finalist Berdych starts off against either Lukasz Kubot or Italian wild card Potito Starace before a probable 2nd round match up with either Almagro (some bad blood there), fellow big man Marin Cilic or Jarkko Nieminen (or a qualifier). If he reaches the quarters and gets Nadal, that could also be a very testy match.
4 seed Andy Murray will seek to recover from a back injury that kept him out of Madrid. He starts against either David Nalbandian or a qualifier before facing either Gasquet, Melzer, WC Paolo Lorenzi or Nikolay Davydenko. He could later face David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Alexandr Dolgopolov or Gilles Simon in the quarters. All difficult match ups.
Ferrer, the 5 seed, will start off with either countryman Verdasco or Dolgopolov before a likely match up with 11 seed Gilles Simon. A very difficult draw for him.
Dark Horse: Gilles Simon
Simon, the 11 seed, who last took the title in Bucharest, will start fresh against the slumping Donald Young before a likely 2nd round match up with Pablo Andujar. If he can get through that, he will be the underdog in a likely match up with David Ferrer, but like Ferrer, he has performed well on clay this year and will have more than a puncher’s chance. If he can pull off the upset in that one, he gets the recently inconsistent Andy Murray or Richard Gasquet and, like Ferrer, he would be favored in both match ups.
Djokovic d. Federer (a possible world no 1 vs. world no 2. match up)
Nadal d. Ferrer (could be another of their classic battles this year)
Nadal d. Djokovic
Rafa should be fighting hard to recover from his loss in Madrid and to prepare himself for another French Open run while Djokovic seeks to do the same.