Rome Men’s Draw: Djokovic Returns, Big 4 Together For First Time This Clay Season
by Sean Randall | May 8th, 2015, 11:14 pm

After a much-deserved few weeks of rest, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic returns to action next week in Rome for what will be his final tune-up before the all-important French Open. Joining Djokovic are his Big Four colleagues Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and even Roger Federer who decided to play the event following a disappointing showing in Madrid.

On to the draw.

First Quarter
The way Djokovic’s has been playing of late – sweeping all the top-tier events the last six months – he doesn’t need a good draw, but as defending champion they gave him one anyway. Spaniards Nicolas Almagro in the second round, Roberto Bautista Agut in the third before things get interesting with Kei Nishikori in the quarters. But if Nishikori continues his run in Madrid, might he be tapped out by that Djokovic meeting? I have to think so. Before then, Kei could meet the entertaining 20-year-old Nick Kyrgios in the third round. But the youngster has quite a draw with Feliciano Lopez to start then maybe a showdown with countryman Bernard Tomic in the second.
The pick: Novak Djokovic

Second Quarter
Andy Murray and David Ferrer are the strong favorites in the second quarter, the weakest of the three sections. Marin Cilic is in there as are Jeremy Chardy and JW Tsonga, but I don’t see anyone standing in the way of a Andy-David duel, unless Lukas Rosol actually fights Murray in the second round! Wow! And should Andy and David meet, I’ll take Murray’s variety over Ferrer’s clay experience. Murray’s done well this clay season while Ferrer just isn’t getting those wins like he was before. Maybe age is finally catching up with him.
The pick: Andy Murray

Third Quarter
We’ll see how Rafa goes this weekend in Madrid, and if things go well I think that should carry over to Rome. Nadal has a decent draw with Adrian Mannarino a likely opener, then some danger with John Isner before a quarterfinal encounter perhaps with friend Juan Monaco who I think beats the struggling Stan Wawrinka. So it’s a really nice section for Rafa who depending on Madrid, might be fighting for his French Open seeding life. Maybe Isner gets hot and steals a set, but otherwise Nadal should coast to the semifinals.
The pick: Rafael Nadal

Fourth Quarter
Now the fun begins. With Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer, Fabio Fognini, Phil Kohlschreiber and Grigor Dimitrov, this is the most competitive quadrant of the draw. Right now I like Berdych. He’s playing solid, consistent tennis while Federer just doesn’t seem to have “it” on the clay anymore. So I think the big Czech takes out the languishing Grigor and then gets Federer in the quarters. Roger though has a tough draw with perhaps Pablo Cuevas then Phil Kohlschreiber. So no certainty the Swiss even makes it that far.
The pick: Tomas Berdych

My semifinals: Djokovic d. Murray (not Nishikori!); Nadal d. Berdych
Murray can’t beat Novak on hardcourts anymore, so how is he going to do it on clay? Nope. Then it’s a toss-up between Rafa and Tomas. I originally took Tomas but deleted it and went with Rafa.

Final: Djokovic d. Nadal
Until he consistently shows me that Rafa of old – deep balls, pop on the serve, few errors – I have to take Novak.

So while the Big Four return, there are notable absentees. There’s no Milos Raonic who’s got a foot problem. Gael Monfils is also not in the draw and Juan Martin Del Potro is nowhere to be found. Looks like the Argentine will sadly miss another clay season.

Matches begin on Sunday. Tennis Channel will have the coverage starting Monday. And remember, for the players Rome is their last chance to adjust their French Open seedings! Can Rafa stay in the Top 4?

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54 Comments for Rome Men’s Draw: Djokovic Returns, Big 4 Together For First Time This Clay Season

Šuškica Mala Says:

Noleeeee! The new King of Clay!! Šuškiceeee javiiiii seeee!!!

Matador Says:

LOl and 9 lols. The new king of clay with ZERO Roland Garros. Vamos Nole, vamos!

courbon Says:

What are you smoking Sean? ( send me some! )
Novak can defeat Nikishori but that is in quarter final-what about second quarter with Murray? That is player with semi-final spot.

courbon Says:

Also, how Novak got cushty draw?
Of very young guys ( Thiem,Koki… ), who was hotest in Madrid?-Kyrgios
Of new young generation ( Raonic, Dimi…) who was the hotest?-Nikishori
Of the Big 4, who is playing very well? Andy Murray
All this people are in Novak’s path to the final…

Margot Says:

You’ve done a vanishing act with Andy, Sean.

Ron Smith Says:

Nole doesn’t have a good draw. Kei is the most dangerous player in the draw outside the big 4…

Giles Says:

Expect innumerable joker trolls on this thread. We already have one who thinks joker is the KOC! LMAO!

Nirmal Kumar Says:

More and more I watch Nishikori, this below article looks more convincing. Yeah, he lacks the physique which is going to hamper him, but skill wise he looks to be very good.

Giles Says:

Who is the writer of the article posted by NK? Is he for real? Lol

jalep Says:

That article definitely is a bit biased and overy the top, Giles.

And I’m a Kei fan-impressive game he has.Maybe a GS winner. Definitely has earned his ranking. Better than Nole?

jane Says:

those comments – that kei is better than novak and rafa – were made by someone formerly on kei’s team or his mentor or some such.

sean, novak could play kei in the quarters, andy in the semis and rafa in the finals. in other words 3 top 5 opponents in a row. how that’s a good draw, i dunno. i’d love to hear more analysis about why you think it is. i mean, in some ways it’d be good for him to play all the in form players prior to roland garros, and see how he matches up versus them on clay. but that said, we have to see how the draw plays out.

of course it’s one of the most difficult things, to beat rafa on clay (all this talk of decline was obviously premature as we watch him plough through the madrid draw), but i do think his quarter is the softest of all the “big 4” players’ draws.

Wog Boy Says:

Only an idiot can say that Kei is better then Nole or Rafa and the bigger idiot can post the article as serious one on TX, but you can’t expet anything better from the troll with multiply monikers.
He is talking about the player who is yet to win major title (GS, WTF, masters) against players who have won 41 (Rafa) and 35 (Nole) major titles, and he is only 2 (3) years younger than them.

Markus Says:

Hahaha! That was some delusional fantasy article.

Giles Says:

NK jinxed Kei. Lol

Travis Bickle Says:

Nishikori is way overrated the same way Wawrinka was the last couple of years. What is common here – they both beat the legend in a Major!
It goes to show how the media is petrified by Novak Djokovic. They hope and hope that someone beats him and when it occasionally happens at an important event, they rush to declare that person the next big thing. Happened to Wawrinka, happened to Kei, if Raonic did it in an important match they would declare him the next big thing.
It’s all media hype – even some true Murray fans were under this influence and were expecting Kei to beat Murray today – how many GS has Kei won? How many 1000 Masters? Zero and zero!
Compared to Murray, that is not even close. And it’s not as if Murray is a “has been” in his thirties like you know who… I had no doubt that even this tired Murray would win easily. Murray belongs to the great players elite, a notch below Big 3, but still miles ahead of “OK players brigade” such as Nishikori, Wawrinka, etc…

Travis Bickle Says:

Regarding the Rome draw, I think Novak has a decent one. It would be much tougher if Murray comes to Rome well rested, but Murray will either destroy himself by constant playing until Rome semi, or more likely, pull out of Rome entirely and save himself for RG.
So, I see Nishikori as the only semi-serious obstacle for Novak on his road to Rome finals.
Rested Novak will use Rome to fine-tune his game for RG and will not care too much if he even loses in Rome, assuming it is not in the final against Nadal – that would be great for Rafa’s superstitions and OCD, and Novak will not let that happen.

So, it will be either experiment with few things and don’t overexert himself in Rome and lose before the final, or if he can see that matches are relatively easy and the place in final is there – use 100% effort to win, assuming Nadal makes it. Otherwise, no biggie, Novak has several Rome titles and it is not that important to win if the cost is being tired or even slightly injured prior to RG.

Sean Randall Says:

Travis Bickle, “way” overrated? How so? He’s ranked No. 5, which seems about right. I might put him behind Berdych maybe. That’s it. Should he be what, No. 6, 7, 10, 15?

When Wawrinka beat Novak, was Stan labeled the next big thing? Were people talking about him being a guy that would win multiple slams, reach No. 1? I don’t recall that. Nishikori is a different case. Different player.

Travis Bickle Says:

Sean Randal,

Nishikori’s ranking is quite right but media is overrating his abilities. As I said, he is an OK player deserving his Top 10 rating, but he is way below Murray’s level and ever farther below the level of the Big 3. And he is not that much younger than Novak, so “young and upcoming” shtick (media still uses for him) is pretty lame.
So, he is overrated in a way that media genuinely expect him to beat Djokovic/Nadal/Murray when they meet and the reality is that his chances in those scenarios are slim at best. After his comical performance in the USO 2014 final, I don’t think he’ll ever win a major – there won’t be better chance than that in the future…he simply lacks an ingredient to do it, be it endurance, height, power, or a combination of those.
On the other hand, I expect Djoker, Murray, Nadal (and possibly even Fed) to win a major in the future.

skeezer Says:

The media had Wawa and Cilic “over rated” at times with their abilities in a time of Novak, Fed, Murray and Rafa. But each has won a Slam in the weak era. We are in different times Taxi driver.

Markus Says:

I missed the taxi driver’s comment about Nishikori, hence my comment about Kei being overrated that sounds like his echo. But he truly is overrated and not really young anymore in reference to Novak. Talking about age difference, Federer is really a generation ahead of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.

chris ford1 Says:

Skeezer – are you saying Stan and Cilic won a Slam in the Weak Era of 2002-2007?
I mean, wasn’t it tough enough on Fed that he had other great rivals?
Like the fearsome runt Leyton Hewitt? The clumsy footwork and bad backhand of Roddick overwhelmed by his serve and forehand. Marat Safin barking at squirrels. Tommy Haas injured all the time or he’d be a rival…and Andre struggling. But Stan as a teen and Cilic as a young teenager

danica Says:

Nishikori better than Nole is wishful thinking. Matsuoka obviously didn’t hear even American commentators saying that Nishi is a lesser version of Djokovic. Maybe similar in style but still lesser. Matsuoka should know better and be objective. He was a decent player in the age of Becker, Edberg and such. If that’s the same guy, a former player, I was too lazy to check because the article (I read it when it first came out) was so ridiculous to me, then he is delusional. Nishi is good but he lacks at least one quality that will hamper his success: height.

As for draw, I really don’t see how is it that Nole has a good draw. He has it tough from the very beginning. I wouldn’t underestimate the Spanish player that possibly await in round 2 and three.

Good luck Nole.

Daniel Says:

Wow Murray, excelent star so far.

Daniel Says:

Nadal with a bunch os errors.

sienna Says:

Nadal will be ranked 7 as of monday.
can he drop out of top 8 before garros?

if he cant even beat Murphy on clay. the dude who gets schooled by fed and djoker.

jalep Says:

Rome qualifying ended today. Coric lost to older more experienced Dusan Lajovic and last years’ jr. FO champion Rublev lost to Italian T. Fabbiano– never heard of him. So much for 2 young guns I follow.

Dolgopolov made it through easily. Sad to see he’s dropped in rankings so low. Good luck Dog!

Can’t wait to see what happens in Rome!

Wog Boy Says:

Nole enjoying Roma, I doubt I would pay to hear him singing:)

Brando Says:

Probably go with a Monte Carlo repeat here:

Novak v Tomas or Novak v Rafa maybe.

jalep Says:

Omg. I love Nole. Hahaha…listened to it twice…can’t understand a word but it’s too cute. Got to be an anthem…sports thing ? Wog.Boy?

Anyways, thanks for posting that!

Wog Boy Says:

It is apparently opera, I didn’t know myself, “Voglio fare il Gentiluomo”, there is similarity between Nole and original;)

Markus Says:

Hey, jalep. Good to catch you to thank you for some nice words you said earlier.
And about that my post which sounded irrelevant to the thread, I really intended to be in line with it. I wanted to start with something stupendous then put some witty twist to it but I somehow I lost my way and got completely lost. Then I hit the submit button and the rest was history. My stupendous turned into stupid. Hahaha! Then Murray beat Nadal so convincingly which only multiplied the stupidity of my comment. But I’m happy to be stupid if that means Murray would win.

jalep Says:

Wog.Boy- it’s wonderful sung by Andrea Cencetti. Leoporello. Love Italian Opera but I thought Nole was singing in Serbian lol…he certaily is charming the Romans for sure! “I want to be a gentleman!” :D

jalep Says:

Oh Markus I’m the one embarrassed by my post last night. Not many of us stay on topic. It’s impossible. I meant my apology. Keep posting what inspires you in the moment.

Some forums are rigid about staying on topic. Thank god tennis-x isn’t one of them!

jalep Says:

That’s actually from Don Giovanni- Mozart.

He’s having fun and looks so happy. Win or lose – enjoying the time of his life.
Good Luck Nole!

Wog Boy Says:

Well, I am not an opera man, but that is what I found on another forum.

As for him enjoying the life and Rome, he certanly does, maybe too much after I saw some photos of him and Pennetta that won’t make Fognini and Jelena very happy:)

I have to be honest, how can anybody not enjoy Rome, Italy and Italians, you have to be there to experience the vibe.
I’ll give you next link just to feel the vibe of Rome regardless of one of my favorite Italian singers, actors and showman performing in such a stunning ambient with fans that adore him, and in this video he is over seventy years of age, have a look, you will recognize the place:

Nirmal Kumar Says:

Looks like mama has not changed the nappies yet. the idiot still barking around.

jane Says:

ha ha, wog boy – i loved the novak video. thanks for sharing. :D
jalep, thanks for i.d.-ing it!

Wog Boy Says:

No probs jane.:)

danica Says:

Don Giovanni – that’s what Jelena Gencic used to play for him when he was in her care. She was also the one who introduced Pushkin to him early (although Pushkin is a mandatory reading in Serbian high schools).

SL Says:

Djokovic will almost certainly win Rome. Nadal will almost certainly lose before the semis, given how inconsistent and low on confidence he is. After two good weeks on clay, expect Andy to play a bad match somewhere and bomb out early. Federer might make a bit of a run.

Nishikori is a really good player, but better on hard than clay, since he can flatten out and generate more power on hard courts. He may win a major (or 2) in his career especially since the generation after Novak, Andy, Rafa is so mediocre. But that’s about as far as he can go.

The Djokovic slam looks ever more likely this year. Rome will be a good warm up for bigger challenges ahead.

Michael Says:

Right now, Novak looks the most impressive and will naturally be highly favoured to win the title. Andy too may fancy his chances after winning two back to back clay court tournaments especially the one against Rafa which might zoom his confidence to peak levels. The dark horses will be Nishikori and Berdych. I think the winner of Rome will be amongst this quarret. As regards Rafa and Roger, both are looking out of sorts more especially the later who has lost his moorings on clay disadvantaged by his age.

Noonen Says:

Can’t you give Novak his due? He is No. 1 and has earned it. It is strange to me how certain ones are venerated.

calmdownplease Says:

`the dude who gets schooled by fed and djoker..`

I think you will soon find that you have had your fun dear
Andy will NOT be getting schooled by anybody now..
So why don’t you take the downtime you’ll soon be experiencing to attend some English classes instead, eh?
You be doing us all a favour…

Tennis lover Says:

Time and time again I warned people in this thread of hedging their bet over Rafa’s la decima in Roland Garros. But, wistful folks ranted me. Last year I warned people who wanted Novak to topple Rafa terming it as an impossible feat but that was in 2014. This year Rafa will be ousted from RG before semifinal, djokovic may not have to face him in final. I am not saying Novak will win RG this year.

jane Says:

for novak fans, an interesting list below. but it’s also interesting, because, for example, berdych is number 3 in the race but he has just 2 top 10 wins this year. i guess he’s either had better draws than others or it’s simply because of his consistency; he has been going deep in almost all the events he’s played.

Top 10 wins in 2015 #ATP
Novak – 11
Roger – 4
Andy – 5
Rafa – 2
Kei – 2
Milos – 2
Tomas – 2
David – 2
Stan – 3
Marin – 0
Grigor – 2

jalep Says:

Yes, exactly about Berdych. He goes deep thus collects points and a handsome paycheck but when he faces Nole, Rafa…usually Andy and even Federer in a final, his brain shuts down. People keep saying how good he is and he is consistently good…but not a threat to win, even if he makes it to a final in a GS.

Markus Says:

That is precisely the Berdych conundrum. He can beat just about anyone decisively then he gets into the finals or meets any of the Big 4 (yes, Murray is now back permanently in my Big 4), and he starts playing like a qualifier.

jalep Says:

It’s true, Markus. So Berdych should be at his best tomorrow against 20 yr.old wild card Italian, Matteo. Donati. Ranked 200 something.

Early round matches are under-rated, imo.
We have:
Stan v Monaco. Rerun from Monte Carlo.
Nole v Almagro
Cilic v GGL.
F.Lopez v Kyrgios
Ferrer V Gasquet
Goffin. v qualifier Andrea Arnaboldi. (gee I love Italian names)
Tomic v Troiki.
Bellucci v Schwartzman
Kohls v Anderson
Dolgopolov v Klizan
Roberto Bautista-Agut v Granollers.

jane Says:

lots of good round match ups for sure jalep; thanks for the round-up.

jane Says:

^ *first round

jalep Says:

Well jane, your welcome. Not sure anyone here would be interested…and the schedule is easily accessible elsewhere.

Just reminding tennis-xers. that tennis moves on…enjoy it!

Markus Says:

A couple of names there who I never want to see win anything.

jalep Says:

Not surprising to hear you say that. But I’m curious which ones.

Markus Says:


I’m not saying who but you can figure it out. Like dear old Okiegal who I’m missing as much as my two front teeth, I’m a stickler for good behavior.

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