Staged two weeks before the start of the French Open, the Italian Open in Rome is one of the most important stops for players during the clay-court season, a huge event in the build up to the clay-court Slam: The 2020 Rome Masters has been cancelled due to the global COVID-19 outbreak.
The 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia has been cancelled due to the global coronavirus outbreak.
The ATP and WTA have issued a joint statement clarifying that all tournaments are suspended until 8 June 2020, with the European clay-court swing entirely cancelled and the French Open having rescheduled itself for 20 September-4 October.
The Rome Masters will return in 2021 and is sure to feature the best players in the world once more as they look to fine-tune their games and test themselves against their biggest rivals ahead of Roland Garros.
In the meantime we’ll leave these predictions up so that you can see how our experts thought the 2020 Italian Open would have unfolded.
Rome 2020 Predictions
Nadal once again the favourite on clay
For more than a decade, Rafael Nadal has been the favourite in virtually every clay-court tournament he has entered, and the 2020 Rome Masters will be no exception. The King of Clay has dominated this tournament over the years, amassing nine titles and a 61-6 record in his 15 previous visits to the Foro Italico.
Nadal has won the Rome title in each of the last two seasons, beating Novak Djokovic in last year’s final in what was his first title of the year. Prior to that Rome success, the world No. 2 has surprisingly fallen in the semi-finals in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, raising concerns over his readiness for the French Open, but the great Spaniard got back to winning ways in Rome, and went on to win his 12th French Open crown.
A successful campaign also included titles in Montreal and the US Open, and the year-end world No. 1 ranking. Nadal is already up and running in titles column in 2020, winning Acapulco in February, and will again be hard to stop on clay.
Djokovic the main challenger
World No. 1, Novak Djokovic will again be Nadal’s biggest challenger in Rome, as the Serbian bids for a sixth title at the Italian capital. Djokovic has been a consistent force in Rome all through his career, and has reached at least the final in five of the last six years. However, the 32-year-old has not won the title since 2015.
Djokovic has also been title-shy on clay in recent seasons- since his French Open success in 2016, the Serbian has added just one more clay-court title (Madrid 2019) to his collection on the dirt. He has definitely not been shy of winning titles on other surfaces! The world No. 1 has racked up a perfect 18-0 start to 2020, leading Serbia to ATP Cup glory, and winning the Australian Open and Dubai.
Thiem eyeing first Rome title
Dominic Thiem has arguably been the second best player behind Nadal on clay in recent seasons, having made the French Open final in each of the last two years, but the Austrian has exactly been setting Rome alight in recent seasons. In fact, Thiem enters the 2020 tournament on a three-match losing streak at the venue, having suffered successive opening round exits in 2018 and 2019 (beaten by Fabio Fognini and Fernando Verdasco respectively).
He started well enough at the Foro Italico, reaching the quarter finals in 2016, when he defeated Roger Federer, and taking down Novak Djokovic en route the semis in 2017, but he’s lost his way at the tournament in the last two years and will be looking to get back on track in 2020.
Thiem has since graduated from being just a clay-court specialist, as he is now a genuine force on quicker surfaces. Under coach Nicolas Massu, he has improved sharply on hard courts, and recently made his maiden Grand Slam final on the surface at the Australian Open, falling just short against Djokovic in a thrilling five-set final. Thiem has had problems with overplaying in the past, and it remains to be seen whether his consistently deep runs on hard courts will have an effect on his clay-court form and results.
Best of the rest in the men’s draw
The young guns will again be out in force, with former champion, Alexander Zverev, Nitto ATP Finals champion, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Russia’s Daniil Medvedev leading the charge.
Zverev was champion in 2017 and finalist in 2018, but he crashed to an opening round loss to Matteo Berrettini in 2019, a defeat symptomatic of a below par season for the German. The 22-year-old made a slow start to 2020, going 0-3 in singles matches at the ATP Cup, but he was back to his best at the Australian Open, where he made his first Grand Slam semi-final. Can he reproduce that form and make another deep run in Rome?
Tsitsipas was a semi-finalist in Rome last season in just his second appearance, while Medvedev is yet to win a match at the tournament, having suffered first round defeats in each of the last two seasons.
Other players to look out for include former finalist, Stan Wawrinka, home hopefuls, Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini, and the in-form Gael Monfils. However, Monfils has a very curious record in Rome- he was a semi-finalist in 2006, but has only featured in five editions since then, winning just one match at the venue within the period.
Monfils, like everyone else, is playing catch-up behind the great Rafael Nadal, who is the firm favourite to once again walkaway with the title.
Wide-open women’s draw
The women’s draw in Rome is typically wide open, with a host of top players going into the tournament with a good chance of winning.
Serena Williams has four Rome titles, just one shy of Chris Evert’s all-time record of five, but the American’s participation isn’t set in stone as she continues to manage the latter stages of her career. Williams pulled out of the tournament last season ahead of a second round meeting with big sister, Venus.
World No. 1, Ashleigh Barty showed her prowess on clay by winning Roland Garros last season, and will be looking to make her first significant impression in Rome when she competes at the Foro Italico in May. Barty has only made two previous main draw appearances in Rome, with her best effort being her third round run last season. The Aussie has again been in fine form this season, carrying on from where she left off last year. She already has a title from Adelaide, while she reached semi-finals in Melbourne and Dubai.
Karolina Pliskova is not exactly renowned for her clay-court expertise, but the Czech compiled an impressive week at the Foro Italico last season, picking up her biggest career title on the surface. Pliskova started 2020 with a title run in Brisbane, but results have not quite gone her way since then. She was beaten by Elena Rybakina in the quarter finals in Dubai, but lost out before the last eight at the Australian Open and Doha.
With her serving prowess and devastating power off the ground, Pliskova is very capable of finding form during a tournament, and is definitely right up there among the favourites to win Rome this year.
Of all the current top players, Romania’s Simona Halep is arguably the most comfortable on clay- it is therefore a bit of a surprise that she hasn’t won the Rome title. The former Roland Garros champion was Rome finalist in 2018 and 2019, losing to Elina Svitolina on both occasions, but she fell to Marketa Vondrousova in the opening round last year. She will hope to get back to winning ways this season, and possibly go all the way for the first time. Halep has made a very positive start to the season, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open and winning the Dubai title. This could be the year that she adds Rome to her very impressive collection.
Two-time champion, Elina Svitolina is definitely in the mix! The Ukrainian is clearly very comfortable in Rome, having claimed the title in 2017 and 2018. Her winning streak at the tournament came to an end when she suffered an opening round defeat to Victoria Azarenka last season, but she will be keen to make amends this year as she targets another deep run in the Italian capital. Svitolina should also be feeling very confident having recently snapped a 14-month title drought. The 25-year-old won the Monterrey crown in February- her first title since the 2018 WTA Finals.
Right up there among the favourites is Kiki Bertens, a two-time Rome semi-finalist. The Dutchwoman is a genuine clay-court force (she’s also branched out to other surfaces in recent seasons) and produced a special week in Madrid last season to win her maiden Premier Mandatory title. The former French Open semi-finalist got off to a confident start this year, and already has a title from St. Petersburg.
Look out for Garbine Muguruza, the former Roland Garros champion and two-time Rome semi-finalist who is having a resurgent season, while Australian Open champion, Sofia Kenin should be feeling very good about herself heading into the clay court season after recently adding the Lyon title to her Melbourne success.
There are so many potential titlists in the women’s draw, which makes the tournament very unpredictable and exciting at the same time!
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
Men’s Draw- 56 singles/24 doubles
Women’s Draw- 56 singles/ 28 doubles
Men – Rafael Nadal (9 titles)
Women – Chris Evert (5 titles)
Men’s singles – Rafael Nadal
Women’s singles – Karolina Pliskova
Main-draw play at the BNP Paribas Open begins on Sunday, 10 May for the men and Monday, 11 May for the women.
Both men’s and women’s finals are played on Sunday 17 May.
Rome player performance
Who are the best-performing male players at the Rome Masters?
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Who are the best-performing female players at the Italian Open?
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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, 10 May.