In the match of the second round, Roger Federer will get his first look at the young phenom Alexander Zverev Wednesday at the Rome Masters. The 19-year-old German, who is ranked No. 44 after starting the year No. 83, has never beaten a Top 10 player before. But he did just dominate a player who plays just like Federer in Grigor Dimitrov.
“It’s always something that I dreamed about, playing against Roger,” Zverev said. “Mischa played here against him in a quarterfinals once, so obviously it’s going to be great and I’m really looking forward to it.
“He was always my idol growing up. Playing against your biggest idol, and I think he’s the best tennis player that ever played the game, so going to be obviously something really big for me and something great. Hopefully we can have a great match and have a, you know, have a tough match and we’ll see how it goes.”
After suffering a back injury last week forcing him out of Madrid, it’s been all quiet in the Federer camp this week in Rome igniting speculation that the Swiss might not be ready for competition.
Fellow Big 4 members Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are also in action on a jam-packed Wednesday schedule.
Four-time champion Djokovic meets French qualifier Stephane Robert in first meeting. Seven-time winner Nadal faces Philipp Kohlschreiber. Rafa has won 12 of the previous 13 meetings (5-0 on clay) against the German including a 6-3, 6-3 victory last month in Barcelona.
“If Rome is not a special place for the players, I don’t know which place can be special,” Nadal said. “It’s one of the most historic events on our tour and one of the most important tournaments in our tour. I think everybody has a special feeling here. For me especially because I have a lot of success in the past.
“He’s playing great,” he said of the German. “He won in Munich couple of weeks okay and played semifinals in Barcelona too. He’s playing well and he’s a very good player on clay. So that’s my — I am worried about that now.”
And the Mauresmo-less Murray takes on Russian qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin.
David Ferrer and Dominic Thiem are also on court. And Nick Kyrgios collides with Milos Raonic in maybe the best match of the session.
Earlier today, Stan Wawrinka shrugged off an opening set loss to coast in a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 win over good friend Benoit Paire.
“I’m really happy with that win,” Wawrinka said. “There were some really good rallies. It was a good atmosphere out there.
“A few points changed a lot for me,” he added. “First set I think we were both playing well, but I was a little bit nervous, quite a lot nervous. I was looking for my confidence.”
Kei Nishikori also dropped the first set before coming back to deny Viktor Troicki 5-7, 6-2 ,6-3.
Tomas Berdych and David Goffin were also straight set second round winners, and David Ferrer held off Italian veteran Filippo Volandri in three sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
WEDNESDAY ROME SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 12:00 noon
ATP –  R. Federer (SUI) vs A. Zverev (GER)
ATP –  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] S. Robert (FRA)
WTA – J. Konta (GBR) vs  R. Vinci (ITA)
Not Before 7:30 pm
ATP – P. Kohlschreiber (GER) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA –  P. Kvitova (CZE) vs M. Keys (USA)
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
WTA – E. Makarova (RUS) vs  G. Muguruza (ESP)
Not Before 12:00 noon
ATP – J. Sousa (POR) vs  D. Thiem (AUT)
ATP – [Q] M. Kukushkin (KAZ) vs  A. Murray (GBR)
WTA – D. Gavrilova (AUS) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs  D. Ferrer (ESP)
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