Back To Red: Can Nadal, Djokovic Regain Their Form In Rome?
by Sean Randall | May 12th, 2012, 4:30 pm

The tour is back on the red clay tomorrow in Rome, and for many players it’s a welcome return to tradition. Leading that charge are the top two (for now) players in the world and 2011 finalists Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. After a virtually wasted week in Madrid, Nadal and Djokovic will try to get back on track in Rome where a year ago the Serb won his second straight over Rafa on the clay.

While I think Nadal returns back to the Sunday final (and wins it), Djokovic remains a big question mark. Novak hasn’t done well in title defenses throughout his career and given his form I don’t think he gets it done this week either. Although his draw is again quite agreeable (like the surface). Djokovic could get Bernard Tomic in his opener, then perhaps the injury-laden Juan Monaco before a big showdown with Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals. And I think I’m taking Del Potro to finally get that big, signature win this year (and he’ll likely prove me wrong again!).

The surging Roger Federer is located in the second quarter and after a rough road in Madrid he’s got an ready-made easy one in Rome. Roger could meet Gael Monfils in the third round before a rematch with Janko Tipsarevic in the quarterfinals. I’ll take the Serb over Stan Wawrinka and John Isner in that section so Federer shouldn’t have much of a problem unless he runs into Isner.

On the bottom, after skipping the blues in Madrid with an alleged back injury, Andy Murray returns and he won’t have it easy. David Nalbandian could be first then Richard Gasquet followed by David Ferrer. Murray was a semifinalist last year and I think he gets back to that spot again.

Nadal, who beat Murray in that epic final four encounter in 2011, might draw the rising Milos Raonic in his opener. Then Felicano Lopez followed by a quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych. It’s a difficult path but after the week he had in Madrid I think Rafa has a lot to prove and he gets back on track.

So my semifinals look like Del Potro-Federer and Murray-Nadal. And in the end I like Nadal to beat Federer in the final.

Also, Rome will determine the final seedings at the French Open, so we’ll keep an eye on that No. 2 ranking race between Federer and Nadal. My guess is if Federer wins Madrid and stays a round even with Nadal in Rome he’ll be the two seed in Paris.

The tournament starts Sunday with Roanic playing Florian Mayer. Tennis Channel’s coverage begins on Monday.

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32 Comments for Back To Red: Can Nadal, Djokovic Regain Their Form In Rome?

jane Says:

“Novak hasn’t done well in title defenses throughout his career”

He has definitely improved in the last couple years. So far this year, Nole has defended the AO and Miami. He also has a three-peat at Dubai, and he’s defended Bejing too. That’s not horrible.

I’ll be totally surprised if you’re right about Tipsy, Sean. I think Wawa gets through (don’t forget he is great on slower clay, it’s his best surface, and he’s been in a Rome final, whereas Tipsy is better on grass and hard courts), and I think Fed meets Isner. Isner is due to back up his move up to a top ten ranking, and I feel like he is going to make a little run in Rome. But this is more on hunch than history.

I agree that Nadal will win. Not sure if Muray gets past Ferrer though; Ferrer has always beaten Muzz on clay thus far.

I am also unsure about Nole’s form, but I think he can beat Delpo, if Delpo gets there; I feel like JMDP might have a letdown in Rome and really surge again on grass. But again that’s just hunch too.

Kimberly Says: join group tennis-x fans. Brando, Raquet, Wog Boy you have expressed interest and we would love to have you. All others too even Dave (real and fake) and Michael (real and fake) are welcome and wanted.

serbian hammer Says:

What makes you think Del Potro or anyone else can beat Djokovic like he is some low class player,we are still talking about n1 player in the world here.Boy ill be very happy when he proves you haters wrong again.Write off Djokovic at your own peril.If anyone can take out Del Potro ,its Djokovic or Federer ,you would know if you watched tennis more and their matchup.But suit yourself,its much more satisfying when Djokovic wins and everybody write him off.

sheila Says:

well being totally honest, i hope someone other than nadal & djokovic make it 2 final in rome or any other tournament 4that matter. respect their game, but simply not a fan of either of them.

Steve 27 Says:

Why sheila, another fed fan? is not good for you if fed no t reach the final? Hopes doesn’t matter in tennis

Brando Says:

@kimberly: thanks, I will join asap. By the way, is there a deadline for the Rome draw?I wouldn’t want to miss that draw. Thanks

Brando Says:

I’m expecting a rafole final for this one. Rafa SHOULD make the final here. I also expect nole to give a performance here. The court suits him more than delpo or fed.

jane Says:

Brando, you have to get your picks in tonight basically, but I think the technical cut off is 6:00 am eastern standard time tomorrow morning – see you on the brackets bracketeer. :)

Brando Says:


Thanks- i have just registered and MADE my picks:-)

Hope wog boy and others join also.

As far as my picks go, let’s just say the 2 who whinged in madrid, should be SMILING by the end of Rome IF my picks play out right :-)

jane Says:

You’re fast Brando – welcome to the fray. It’s good fun.

Brando Says:

@jane: LOL, I don’t mess around:-) seemed pretty straightforward to me, I’m expecting normality to return in Rome.

trufan Says:

Since the US Open, Federer has been BY FAR the hottest player on tour, except the loss to Nadal at the AUS open. Don’t write him off at Rome, where the clay is faster than at RG! You can be sure Nadal will complain again if he loses.

Steve 27 Says:

The clay could be faster, but is until now his worst tournament. Only two finals, for his standards, very poorly. Fed fans could be so predictable, like trufan, you need a medicine for your envy problems.

RZ Says:

I’d love to see a Raonic-Nadal match. Milos probably learned a whole lot from his close-but-not-quite match with Fed a few days ago.

King Federer Says:

envy problems are fine, but unfortunately there are no pills to cure stupidity of rafat@rds!

Wog boy Says:

“..seemed pretty straightforward to me…”

Thanks very much Brando:(

Wog boy Says:

“invalid login credentials” that means I probably entered something wrong last night, either my e-mail or password.
I will try it back home from my comp, to start from the beginig if it is going to let me do it again. I have to concentrate now on king prawns and Chardonnay. Mothers day is good exuse for us men to get smashed:) Cheers

jane Says:

Wog Boy, on the other thread, carlo left you detailed instructions. I am copying the instructions/post here for your reference (don’t get too smashed as you might get even more confused :)).

carlo Says:

Wog boy, we won’t give up on you ;)

1) you followed the steps to register 1st on the atp challenge home page, right?

2) I forget exactly, but maybe check your email for a confirmation of registration link from atp bracket challenge, okay.

3) go back to the home page bracket link, go to the top right hand corner and it wants your email and password to ‘log-in’

3) after you’ve logged in as above, fill out your Rome bracket

4) after you filled out the bracket, go to groups, public groups, there are 32 members now in tennisxfans (typing a dash like tennis-xfans won’t work, it has to be “tennisxfans” ; thats why for a long time i went to groups after doing my bracket and scrolled down to where I found the tennisxfans group name. took a bit longer but i’d goof up typing ‘tennisxfans’

then you should be in!! welcome in!

on second thought, no, i think with the GS bracket I had to check my email and click a link to confirm. this one I just think try your email and password. do bracket, then join our group.

May 12th, 2012 at 9:56 pm

carlo Says:
of course meant register on the bracket link, then log in each time with email and password.

but you have to fill out your Rome bracket 1st to join. You can actually join as many gro

Tennis Fan Says:

Back To Red: Can Nadal, Djokovic Regain Their Form In Rome?
Simple Answer: Well, certainly not if it were coloured blue …

carlo Says:

Wog boy. If you entered your email wrong, you’ll need to register with your real correct email, choose another username, new password, select australia…agree to terms and conditions is automatic by registering. just click ‘play now’

but you might have entered your email right last night. try it on the log in and your exact password you selected last night- log in at top right hand side.

hope to see you there. but i work in the morning so got to get to sleep. g’nite and good luck!

if you forgot your password, from last night, you can request and change that easily by going to ‘settings’

but you need your email entered right and the password to log in after registering. then you do the Rome bracket. Some of my wine influenced brackets are better than my others, lol! but smashed might not be good :D

after your bracket is complete, go to groups and there are 32 in ‘tennisxfans’ type it just like that or scroll down manually until you get to groups with 32 members and we are there; maybe 33 by now, but it’s quite a ways down.

you can join as many groups as you want. pretty sure i’ve seen some Serbian/ djokovic fan groups too.

ismaell Says:

so??? nobody think raonic could send nadal home?
i do… go raonic!!!

ismaell Says:

also i may pass watching rome, this week i watched the tennis that make me love this sport, the offensive tennis, berdych, delpo and federer played beautiful.
rome will be the old boring ping pong tennis as usual in clay.

Nims Says:

We are getting into the real tournaments now, post the exhibitions which were happening after the AO. Starting Rome, we will see the separation between Men and the Boys. The guys who are capable of winning big matches and GS.

The most important period of tennis season starts now. Let’s see who triumphs.

Wog boy Says:

To all of you that helped me, thanks. I made it, carlo, jane I am not smashed, not yet, but my Rome bracket looks like I am (was) smashed:}
Doesn’t matter ……it is mine!

Michael Says:

Why not ? I expect both to bounce back in Rome strongly. Mind you, we are talking about the No1 and No.2 in the world and you cannot discount them with just one defeat. It all happens in this sport.

Polo Says:

It will be a sad day in tennis when Roger retires. He is a very popular player who is most beloved anywhere he plays. You can tell from the number of people he draws to watch as compared with other players. The crowd cheers for him more even when playing against an unknown underdog. The lights will dim when he leaves the room.

WTF Says:

“You can be sure Nadal will complain again if he loses.”

Why would he complain about an event he’s managed to win 5 or 6 times? Are they dying it blue as well?

El Flaco Says:

Karlovic bageled Petzschner in their 1st set in qualies yesterday. How is that possible? Most 16 year old juniors could hold serve a couple times in a set against Dr Ivo.

Michael Says:


Sure Tennis will become poorer when Roger calls it a day. Such a great Champion and Ambassador of Sport who commands respect from all quarters. But he cannot continue forever. I hope Roger continues playing till 35 and go on to win some more majors.

suhale arif Says:

If u tke a few years ago, it was the time Federer concentrated only in grandslams & he plays worst in other tournaments. Bt nw thts nt the case. May be he is nt reaching all grandslam finals like before bt for sure he is nt done yet. The recent triumphs in Dubai, Rotterdam, Indianwells & Madrid proves tht. To be frank, i dnt think Nadal can win Rome this year. Neither does Djokovic. Bt for sure we’ll see an other Rafa whn it cms bck to the red clay. If i’m being asked to rate the chances on those players who hve chance to win rome, it wud be like this: Roger(35%), Rafa(25%), Nole(15%), Delpo(10%), Ferrer(8%), Berdych(5%), Murray(2%)

CM Says:

It is so interesting to see so many good players in ATP now. So interesting that nothing is for sure now.

skeezer Says:

WTF Says

“Why would he complain about an event he’s managed to win 5 or 6 times?”

That….is an excellent question, and why would he complain about any court that is either Clay or Slow?

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