Rome tennis predictions & betting tips

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The Italian Open in Rome is one of the most important stops for players during the clay-court season and takes place from 20-26 September 2020 with nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and 2019 winner Karolina Pliskova leading the field.

Rome 2020 Predictions

Originally scheduled to take place in mid-May, two weeks before the French Open, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia was rescheduled due to the global health crisis.

The European clay-court season as a whole has been compressed and moved to September. Rome, the only ATP Masters 1000 Series tournament to take place on clay in 2020, will take place from 14-21 September at the Foro Italico.

King of Clay Rafael Nadal makes his return to competition after a six-month absence as he eyes a tenth Rome Masters title, while world no. 1 Novak Djokovic tries to rebound from his shock US Open exit.

With Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev not playing after their run to the US Open final, Stefanos Tsitsipas looks for his first Masters 1000 Series title while Matteo Berrettini shoulders home hopes.

On the women’s side, the players who sat out the US Open return in force, led by top seed Simona Halep, two-time champion Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Belinda Bencic, while Sofia Kenin and defending champion Karolina Pliskova look to make the transition from hard courts to clay.

Rome Masters Men’s Tips: Top Half

One of the big questions coming into this Rome Masters: What kind of form will Novak Djokovic be in? The world no. 1 won his fourth title at the Foro Italico in 2015, and has been in three of four subsequent finals, but he’s got to make a very quick transition from hard courts to clay after playing the US Open. More seriously, he has to try to rebound from his shock US Open default.

Djokovic hasn’t got long to find his feet on clay, thanks to the draw. He opened with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Salvatore Caruso, but will face Filip Krajinovic or Marco Cecchinato in the third round; Krajinovic is in great form while Cecchinato has beaten Djokovic on clay before. Gael Monfils and Kei Nishikori are among potential quarterfinal opponents, although Stan Wawrinka went out in a shock defeat to little-known Lorenzo Musetti.

The good news for Djokovic is that if he can get through that, he will be playing well; and potential semifinal opponents are much less threatening. Matteo Berrettini played well at the US Open until running into Andrey Rublev in the last 16, but with tricky opponents Cristian Garin, Jan-Lennard Struff and Borna Coric all falling before him, it’s a soft draw for the Italian through to the quarterfinals; David Goffin fell to Marin Cilic in the second round, and Cilic is 2-17 vs Djokovic. Although Djokovic has some dangerous players in his quarter, it’s not like any of them are in good form (apart from Krajinovic) or have played a lot of tennis recently to be at the pitch they would need to be to defeat the world no. 1.

Rome Masters Men’s Tips: Bottom Half

Rafael Nadal already knows who his first opponent will be when he takes the court for the first time since winning Acapulco in February: Compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, fresh from a run to the US Open semifinals.

Given how drained Carreno Busta was by the end of that run, and the quick turnaround, I would be surprised if he can offer much resistance to Nadal. There wil understandably be issues re-adjusting to competition for Nadal, the physical probably a bigger concern than the technical or mental, but his draw is at a nice level of challenging but not too difficult. Milos Raonic, or out-of-form 2019 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters runner-up Dusan Lajovic, are likely third-round opponents.

Diego Schwartzman is Nadal’s projected quarterfinal opponent, but Schwartzman hasn’t been playing well since returning to competition. Could Andrey Rublev, one of the form players of 2020, be a more legitimate threat? Rublev is much better established as a hard-court player, but his ferocious power works on any surface.

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will be desperate for a good run to shake off the lingering memories of having allowed six match points to slip by in his US Open defeat to Borna Coric, but the Greek, a semifinalist in 2019, has some tough opponents. Italy’s rising teenage star Jannik Sinner could be his opening opponent, with Grigor Dimitrov potentially awaiting in the third round. Fabio Fognini, who has never played well in Rome and got three games from a player ranked outside the top 300 in his only post-shutdown match, is unlikely to meet Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals; Denis Shapovalov, who had a very good win over Guido Pella 6-2, 6-3 in the first round and made the quarterfinals of the US Open, could be the man.

Rome Masters Men’s Tips: Nadal to triumph?

Nadal is, traditionally, a player who needs a lot of matches to find his absolute best tennis. But he’s also a player who doesn’t need his absolute best tennis to beat a lot of others.

Andrey Rublev is certainly an intriguing candidate for a dark-horse run to the quarterfinals, but the Russian doesn’t tend to thrive against players whose defense is strong as Nadal’s is. Stefanos Tsitsipas has beaten Nadal on clay before (once, in Madrid, where the conditions tend not to be so good for the Spaniard), and with Tsitsipas so much more match-fit than Rafa, I could see that semifinal being a tough one for Nadal. But the Greek’s got a tricky draw and may well not make it to the final four, and I don’t see who else is playing well enough to beat Nadal right now.

A final against Djokovic would be a different story – and the perfect way for the world no. 1 to rebound from the US Open and stake his claim to being considered a huge threat for Roland Garros. Ultimately I think playing in the US will prove to have served Djokovic well, despite its sub-optimal ending; he is so much more match-fit than the dangerous players who throng his quarter. Nadal and Djokovic should meet in the final, and if they do, Djokovic will snap his three-match losing streak in clay-court matches against Nadal.

WTA Rome Tips: Top Half

After winning Prague a few weeks ago and sitting out the US swing, top seed Simona Halep should be the woman to reckon with in this quarter and she has a good record in Rome, having made back-to-back finals in 2017-18 although she suffered a shock defeat to Marketa Vondrousova early in the tournament last year.

Halep should not make a similarly early exit this year. With a 15-2 record in 2020, she opened with a straight-sets win over Italian wildcard Jasmine Paoini. Amanda Anisimova, who ended Halep’s French Open title defense in straight sets last year, could await in the third round, but Anisimova is not playing well at the moment; Dayana Yastremska and Camila Giorgi are other potential opponents.

In the quarterfinals, Halep could face Petra Martic in what would be their first clay-court encounter. Martic has been a tricky opponent for Halep before and plays well on clay, and could avenge her US Open last-16 defeat to Yulia Putintseva in the second round in Rome, but Ekaterina Alexandrova lurks. The Russian looks likely to upset Elena Rybakina in the first round, and although she is better established as a hard court player, is a danger on all surfaces; she also beat Halep in Beijing last year in straight sets, although Halep was struggling for any wins at the time.

The quarter bracketed by Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and 2019 Rome runner-up Johanna Konta – both looking to improve on their US Open results – is all about the dangerous lurkers: Kenin’s first opponent in Rome will be Venus Williams or US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka with Angelique Kerber potentially awaiitng in the third. Meanwhile, former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza opens against former French Open finalist Sloane Stephens with the winner to face Coco Gauff or Ons Jabeur and the winner of that likely to face Konta. Stephens is on no form, but matches up well against Muguruza; she might win that one only to go down to Jabeur (Gauff is just a total unknown on European clay at this point). A Kenin-Jabeur quarterfinal would certainly mean advantage Kenin, as she leads the head-to-head 5-1: Halep and Kenin to face off in the semifinals, with Alexandrova and Azarenka as dark horses?

WTA Rome Tips: Bottom Half

This half is all about the WTA top players who love clay returning to action ahead of the French Open and could give us some crucial information.

Two-time Rome champion Elina Svitolina is an obvious contender based on her record at the Foro Italico alone, but the Ukrainian hasn’t played since February and with her path packed with dangerous power players – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round, and Anett Kontaveit, Caroline Garcia or Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third – I can see Svitolina making an early exit.

That would clear the path for Kiki Bertens, also playing for the first time since February and a magnificent clay-courter who won Madrid in 2019. Polona Hercog and 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova are in her path, but the Czech is on no kind of form and Bertens should be headed to a quarterfinal clash with the in-form Kontaveit.

Defending champion Pliskova, the second seed, was knocked out of the Western & Southern Open by Veronika Kudermetova; could she avenge that defeat if they meet in the second round in Rome? If Pliskova can negotiate that one, she could face Jil Teichmann – a rising player, who has beaten Bertens on clay – in the third round.

It’s tough to know what to expect from sixth seed Bencic, another player who hasn’t competed since February. Bencic has not quite established herself as a threat on traditional European clay (although she did make the semifinals of Madrid last year) and she could open against hard-hitting Julia Goerges, but the real threat could be Elise Mertens. The Belgian has been playing some great tennis lately, making the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open and the quarterfinals of the US Open, and if she can adjust from hard to clay, I could see her making a dark horse run to the semifinals and perhaps beyond.

WTA Rome Tips: Halep’s to lose?

Simona Halep does look well-placed to take this title, or at least to reach the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final for the third time. The Romanian has a good combination of having played more recently than lots of her rivals, having won the Prague title post-shutdown, but not having to deal with the fallout of having made the trip to the USA or needing to make the transition of surfaces.

Apart from Anisimova, who is not on good form, I don’t see another player in Halep’s quarter the Romanian isn’t capable of beating, and should she meet Sofia Kenin in the semifinals, it would likely be a lengthy, intense battle – but still one Halep should win; Kenin also has to contend with some dangerous players in her quarter, like Victoria Azarenka, Venus Williams, Ons Jabeur and Coco Gauff, to name a few.

In the bottom half of the draw, Anett Kontaveit is a great clay-court player and on very good form and fortunately for the Estonian, she will not this time have to face Naomi Osaka, who ousted her at the Western & Southern Open and US Opens. Kontaveit could feasibly beat both Bertens and Svitolina to make the semifinal, where Elise Mertens or Karolina Pliskova look likely to await.

Rome 2020 tournament information

Name: Internazionali BNL D’Italia, also known as the Rome Masters

Location: Rome, Italy

Venue: Foro Italico

Category: ATP Masters 1000 Series/WTA Premier 5

Surface: Outdoor clay courts

Draw size:
Men’s Draw- 56 singles/24 doubles
Women’s Draw- 56 singles/ 28 doubles

Most titles:
Men – Rafael Nadal (9 titles)
Women – Chris Evert (5 titles)

Reigning champions:
Men’s singles – Rafael Nadal
Women’s singles – Karolina Pliskova

Main-draw play at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia begins on Sunday 20 September, with men’s and women’s finals taking place on Saturday 26 September.

Rome player performance

Who are the best-performing male players at the Rome Masters?

PlayerYears playedTitlesFinals2019 resultWin-loss
Rafael Nadal1592Champion61-6
Novak Djokovic1345Runner-Up50-9
Alexander Zverev411R211-3
Stan Wawrinka141R122-14
Dominic Thiem5R28-5
Stefanos Tsitsipas2SF3-2
Daniil Medvedev2R10-2

Who are the best-performing female players at the Italian Open?

PlayerYears playedTitleFinals2019 resultWin-loss
Serena Williams164R244-8
Elina Svitolina62R211-4
Venus Williams1511R334-14
Karolina Pliskova51Champion7-4
Simona Halep82R215-8
Garbine Muguruza6R310-6
Kiki Bertens5SF7-5

Rome betting tips

Check back for the best Rome betting tips when odds are released closer to the tournament, where main-draw play begins on Sunday 20 September.