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Italian Open: Nadal and Co. Set for Final French Open Tune-Up


Italian Open: Nadal and Co. Set for Final French Open Tune-Up

Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2019

The clay-court season is in full swing, and the second Grand Slam of the season — the French Open — creeps ever closer. The best male tennis players in the world have just one more tournament to tune up for that Grand Slam, and that will be at the Italian Open.

All the big names — Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer — will be in the draw as they get ready for Roland Garros. Djokovic and Nadal, in particular, are the clear-cut tournament favourites, according to the Italian Open 2019 betting odds.

But they are by no means guaranteed of victory as several other contenders are fully capable of knocking them out.

Talking Points

Nadal’s clay-court slump

At this point, it might be time to say World No. 2 Rafael Nadal is in a full-blown clay-court slump. The once-untouchable king of clay has been a mere mortal on his preferred surface this season. He’s been unable to get past the semi-finals in all three of his clay-court tournaments thus far.

Nadal was initially stunned by Fabio Fognini at the Monte Carlo Masters. He then lost again in straight sets to World No. 4 Dominic Thiem. And again, Nadal was upset by 20-year-old upstart Stefanos Tsitsipas last time out at the Madrid Masters.

After reaching the final of the Australian Open, Nadal has yet to claim a title this season, which is a tad concerning. But he should like his chances of ending that drought in Rome, where he has enjoyed a lot of success through the years.

 And if Nadal can gain some valuable momentum in Italy, he should once again be considered the man to beat at Roland Garros.

Federer clay comeback continues

After a three-year break from clay, Roger Federer has finally made his return to the surface this year. The Swiss master recently announced he would be coming back to Rome to further prepare for the French Open.

Federer has opted not to play in clay for the past few years in order to prolong his career, which is why he says he didn’t miss it all that much. You’d have to go back to 2016 for the last clay-court tournament Federer played in prior to this season.

Curiously enough, that was also at the Rome Masters, where he went out in the round of 16 against Dominic Thiem. Federer got a little further in his first clay-court tournament back in Madrid. He beat veterans Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils but once again fell to Thiem in the quarter-finals.

Clearly, Federer still has some rust to shake off heading into the French Open. And after a long hiatus, it remains to be seen whether Federer can still be one of the top contenders on clay. Although, he can certainly go a long way toward silencing those doubts if he can deliver some Italian Open 2019 highlights.

The Tsitsipas train keeps rolling

Stefanos Tsitsipas has been the toast of the ATP Tour this season. The young Greek is having a breakout campaign, which began with a semi-final run at the Australian Open wherein he knocked out Roger Federer in the round of 16.

Federer had his revenge, though, as he beat Tsitsipas in the final in Dubai. Tsitsipas has since gone to two more finals — both on clay. He claimed the title in Estoril before going on another terrific run at the Madrid Masters.

Tsitsipas took out both World No. 5 Alexander Zverev and Nadal en route to the final, where he succumbed to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Tsitsipas was a mere qualifier in Rome last season and fell in the second round to Juan Martin del Potro. But he will be one of the top-10 seeds this time around and will look to make an already impressive season even better.

History

As mentioned earlier, Nadal has had a lot of success in Rome over the course of his career. He has won the tournament a total of eight times, the most in tournament history.

He also holds the records for most finals (10), most consecutive titles (3), and most consecutive finals (6). The Spaniard finally broke a four-year winless drought in Rome when he won the title last year.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic also has quite an impressive resume in Rome. The Djoker has reached the final of the Italian Open in eight of the last 11 years, with four wins. One of those was against Nadal back in 2014.

What are the odds?

Despite his recent struggles, SBOBET odds still have Nadal installed as the overall favourite to win in Rome. The Spaniard is priced at 2.20, with Djokovic not far behind at 3.00.

But don’t sleep on Alexander Zverev. The World No. 5 has not had a particularly impressive clay-court season thus far, but there’s something about the Italian Open which brings out the best in him.

Zverev has reached the final of this tournament in each of the last two years. He beat Djokovic in straight sets in 2017 but fell in last year’s final to Nadal. Priced at 15.00, he is certainly a value bet that has the potential to pay out in a big way.

 

 


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