The world’s top players arrive at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for the third and final clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event of the season in Rome.
Ten-time champion Rafael Nadal and five-time champion Novak Djokovic headline the field at the Foro Italico, while Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Carlos Alcaraz are also strong contenders in the Italian capital.
ATPTour.com looks at 10 things to watch this week.
1) Rafa Defends Crown: Nadal hit the ground running on his return after six weeks out with a rib injury at the Mutua Madrid Open, but the legendary Spaniard’s run was halted by countryman Alcaraz in a thrilling quarter-final clash. Nadal will look to up his level further at a tournament where he has the most titles (10) and most match wins (68), a record that still makes him the man to beat in the Italian capital.
2) Novak Shoots For Six: Djokovic may have suffered disappointment at the final hurdle against Nadal in 2021 but the World No. 1 is a five-time champion himself in the Italian capital. The Serbian was back to somewhere near his best in Madrid after a stuttering start to the season, and he will be aiming to improve an outstanding 59-10 match record in Rome as he chases a maiden title of 2022.
3) Alcaraz To Make Debut: The red-hot 19-year-old has hit milestone after milestone this season. The Spaniard notched a first Masters 1000 crown in Miami in March, with another trophy in Barcelona helping to push him into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on 25 April.
Although a debutant in Rome, Alcaraz will arrive in the Italian capital a fully-fledged title contender and may also by then have already become a two-time Masters 1000 champion, with the Spaniard playing in Sunday’s championship match in Madrid.
4) Zverev To Rule In Rome?: Second seed Zverev has plenty of fond memories from Rome to motivate him at the Foro Italico, with the World No. 3 having won his maiden Masters 1000 title there in 2017. The big-serving German comes into the tournament having recaptured some of his best form in reaching the semi-finals in Madrid this week after a difficult start to 2022.
5) Tsitsipas 2019 Finalist: Zverev’s semi-final opponent in Spain is Tsitsipas, and the Greek will be seeded fourth as he heads to Rome. The Greek has already enjoyed Masters 1000 success on clay this year, having triumphed at April’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, and the World No. 5 will hope his impressive form on the red dirt allows him to better his 2019 run to the semi-finals in the Italian capital.
6) Sinner Leads Italian Charge: Local fans will have some strong contenders to get behind despite the absence of Italian No. 1 Matteo Berrettini. Jannik Sinner has had a solid 2022 so far, reaching four tour-level quarter-finals, but the 10th seed has never been past the third round in Rome. Meanwhile Fabio Fognini reached the last eight at the Foro Italico in 2018, and the 34-year-old remains a threat to anyone on Tour on his day.
7) Sonego To Shine Again?: Lorenzo Sonego had only reached one Masters 1000 quarter-final prior to the 2021 event in Rome but upset Gael Monfils, Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev on the way to the semi-finals. The World No. 28 has struggled at times this season and owns a 10-13 match record for the year, and he will look to home support for inspiration once again as he faces Denis Shapovalov in the opening round.
8) Ruud & Rublev Threat: Fifth seed Casper Ruud has won just four matches in a disappointing clay season so far after reaching his maiden Masters 1000 final in Miami in March, but the Norwegian enjoys the Rome clay. He reached the third round as a qualifier in 2019 before a run to the semi-finals a year later was only stopped by eventual champion Djokovic. In contrast Andrey Rublev’s brutal baseline hitting has lit up the red dirt this year, but the sixth seed is yet to lift a Masters 1000 title. Could his time come in Rome?
9) Mektic/Pavic Defend Doubles Crown: Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic won nine tour-level titles in 2021, one of which was a third Masters 1000 crown of the year in Rome, but the third seeds are yet to lift a trophy in 2022. Top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury seek to back up their maiden clay-court title together won in Monte Carlo in April, while second seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos look to replicate their 2020 title run at the Foro italico.
10) Stars Pull Double Duty: A host of singles stars join the doubles draw with Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov set for a blockbuster opener against No. 1-ranked pairing Ram and Salisbury. Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul, John Isner and Diego Schwartzman, and Grigor Dimitrov and Hubert Hurkacz make up other strong pairings taking to the doubles court this week in Italy.