The Italian Open in Rome is one of the most important stops for players during the clay-court season and takes place from 9-16 May 2021, with defending champions Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep leading the field.
Rome 2021 Predictions
After an unusual autumnal edition in 2020, when it was the only one of the big European clay-court events outside the French Open which managed to be successfully held, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia – also known as the Italian Open and the Rome Masters – returns to its regular calendar slot in 2021 and will be played from 9-16 May at the Foro Italico.
Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep lead the field in 2021, with nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, Elina Svitolina, Alexander Zverev and Karolina Pliskova among the players who will be hungry to retake the trophy in Rome.
The last big event before the French Open, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia is a key battleground at the heart of the European clay-court season and the battles at the Foro Italico will certainly be fierce when the tournament returns in 2021.
ATP Rome Masters 2021: Men’s Tips
As expected from a clay-court event, the Rome Masters has been won by Rafael Nadal more times than by any other player – and by some margin. Thomas Muster’s Open Era record of three titles in Rome has long since been surpassed by Nadal, who has won the title nine times between 2005 and 2019; the Spaniard went for four years without winning the title in 2014-17, with defeats to Novak Djokovic (twice), Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem, but returned to form with back-to-back titles in 2018-19.
Nadal suffered a shock loss to Diego Schwartzman in the Rome quarterfinals in 2020, but the circumstances were exceptional; it was the first tournament Nadal had played since Acapulco in February due to the global health crisis. Under anything like usual circumstances, it’s almost as difficult to beat Nadal in Rome as it is to beat him at Roland Garros, Barcelona or Monte Carlo and he will be the overwhelming favourite to win the title again in 2021.
Rome is also one of Novak Djokovic’s most successful Masters 1000 Series events, which is saying something considering it’s on clay; among the nine Masters tournaments, only Miami and Paris have been won as many or more times as Djokovic has won Rome. In addition to five titles, most recently in 2019 when he beat Schwartzman in the final (he has rarely had a softer draw), Djokovic has finished runner-up five times; he has never lost before the quarterfinals in Rome when playing the main draw, and not that early since 2013. It would be very surprising if he is not among the semifinalists, at least, in 2021.
The only player outside the Big Four to have captured the Rome Masters title since 2004 (!), Alexander Zverev cannot be entirely discounted; the German won the title in 2017, beating Djokovic in the final, then returned to the final in 2018, losing to Nadal. An early defeat for Zverev in Rome to Matteo Berrettini during his troubled 2019 season does not erase a very strong record there.
Diego Schwartzman was able to reach his first Masters 1000 Series final in Rome in 2020 after pulling off a huge shock win over Nadal, and he had reached the semifinals in 2019, so clearly this is a tournament where he plays well. The Argentine is a great competitor and played the finest tennis of his life in 2020, but his lack of outright weapons will always mitigate against his chances.
Dominic Thiem has no lack of outright weapons whatsoever, but since reaching the semifinals in Rome in 2017 he hasn’t won a match. This can be explained by the fact that he’s usually gone deep in Madrid the week before, and the turnaround is brutal – but that won’t change in 2021.
WTA Rome Open 2021: Women’s Tips
Defending champion Simona Halep will lead the list of favourites to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in 2021, and rightly so. The Romanian, a French Open champion in 2018, has been in the final in Rome three of the past four years, only an early defeat to Marketa Vondrousova (who went on to reach the French Open final the same year) in 2019 interrupting her run, and won the title in 2020 defeating Karolina Pliskova in the final.
Pliskova will also be among the favourites for the WTA Rome title; the Czech won in 2019, beating Johanna Konta in the final, and only fell short to Halep in 2020, forced to retire during the final. Pliskova doesn’t often dazzle at Grand Slams but these WTA Tour titles are the type she excels at winning and she has won nine of her last ten matches in Rome.
Elina Svitolina captured back-to-back Internazionali BNL d’Italia titles in 2017-18, defeating Halep in both finals. A knee injury contributed to an early defeat to Victoria Azarenka in 2019 and the schedule disruption to a quarterfinal loss to Vondrousova in 2020, but Svitolina plays beautifully in Rome and on clay as a rule and should certainly not be disregarded coming into the 2021 tournament.
Vondrousova is another player who could well be a favourite for Rome in 2021. The Czech’s run to the French Open final in 2019 was overshadowed by serious injury problems which followed soon after and blighted the rest of her season, and she ended 2020 with an 8-10 record – but four of those eight wins did come in Rome, where she made the semifinals, and she is a very effective clay-courter. The last two French Open champions, Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek, could also be forces in the field. Swiatek is still an unknown quantity – we don’t really know how the kind of dazzling tennis she played to win Roland Garros in 2020 will translate to the week-in, week-out WTA Tour – but Barty should be absolutely raring to go in 2021 after being largely kept off the court in 2020, and although her record in Rome is an unimpressive 2-3, she’s had some tough draws. As one of the top seeds, if not the top seed, at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in 2021, Barty should do much better.
Speaking of former French Open champions, Garbine Muguruza has made the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia three times in the past five years and showed signs of resurgence in 2020 despite her earliest exit from Roland Garros in a while. She is another player who clearly enjoys the conditions in Rome almost as much as she does those in Paris and who should be a real force in the draw.
Serena Williams has won the title in Rome four times, most recently in 2016, but she has only played the tournament once since then and that ended in withdrawal after one match. With the Internazionali BNL d’Italia’s proximity to the French Open, and Williams’s chronic injury problems, she is not a good bet to win the title in 2021. Halep, Muguruza, Pliskova and Svitolina are all reliable performers at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and Barty and Vondrousova should be added to the list of players who can be expected to be in the mix at the closing stages of the tournament in 2021.
Rome 2021 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 1000
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 – Novak Djokovic
Women’s singles – Simona Halep
Main-draw play at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia begins on Sunday 9 May, with men’s and women’s finals taking place on Sunday 16 May.
Rome player performance
Who are the best-performing male players at the Rome Masters?
|Player||Years played||Titles||Finals||2020 result||Win-loss|
|Rafael Nadal||16||9||2||QF (lost to Diego Schwartzman)||63-7|
|Novak Djokovic||14||5||5||Champion (d. Diego Schwartzman)||55-9|
|Alexander Zverev||4||1||1||Did not play||11-3|
|Diego Schwartzman||5||–||1||Runner-up (lost to Novak Djokovic)||9-5|
|Stan Wawrinka||15||–||1||R1 (lost to Lorenzo Musetti)||22-14|
|Dominic Thiem||5||–||–||Did not play||8-5|
|Stefanos Tsitsipas||3||–||–||R2 (lost to Jannik Sinner)||3-3|
|Daniil Medvedev||2||–||–||Did not play||0-2|
Who are the best-performing female players at the Italian Open?
|Player||Years played||Title||Finals||2020 result||Win-loss|
|Serena Williams||16||4||–||Did not play||44-8|
|Elina Svitolina||7||2||–||QF (lost to Marketa Vondrousova)||13-5|
|Venus Williams||16||1||1||R1 (lost to Victoria Azarenka)||34-15|
|Karolina Pliskova||6||1||1||Runner-up (lost to Simona Halep)||11-5|
|Simona Halep||9||1||2||Champion (d. Karolina Pliskova)||20-7|
|Garbine Muguruza||7||–||–||SF (lost to Simona Halep)||14-7|
|Kiki Bertens||6||–||–||R2 (lost to Polona Hercog)||7-6|