Big 3 Of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer Headline Rome Field
by Sean Randall | May 13th, 2019, 12:10 am

The final tune-up before the French Open is already underway (for some reason) in Rome where virtually the same field as we saw in Madrid is assembled (just replace a few Spaniards with Italians!).

Eight-time champ Rafael Nadal is again the favorite despite still searching for his first title of any kind this season. Madrid winner Novak Djokovic has won Rome four times and 2017 titlist Alexander Zverev is also in the mix.

Roger Federer is again a big story. He returns for a second clay warm-up after a decent week in Madrid. Fed’s never won Rome and I don’t think he ever will. So with that, to the draw…

With the mojo back and a nice draw, you have to like Djokovic’s chances in his quarter. PCB or Shapovalov can be tricky and so too can Daniil Medvedev or Stan Warwinka in the quarters, but otherwise I don’t think Novak will or should have any issues here. Juan Martin Del Potro is also in there but after a bye he could open against Wawrinka. Coming off a knee issue to playing clay is tough, especially for someone so fragile like Delpo. The Medvedev-Nick Kyrgios could be a good first rounder but in the big picture it shouldn’t matter.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic

The good news for 2018 finalist/2017 winner Zverev is he finally won back-to-back matches for the first time in two months last week in Madrid. The bad news is is that is not fake news. So that’s how bad it’s been for the German who’s been the biggest disappointment of 2019. That said, he’s got the best draw of the top seeds. He’ll open against the tough home standing Mateo Berrettini, then Gael Monfils followed by either Marin Cilic or Kei Nishikori for a semifinal spot. He should be favored in all those matches and I’m actually going to lean his way here to break out of that slump in the city in which he won his first big title.
The Pick: Alexander Zverev

As I said, Fed made a good return last week in Madrid before Dominic Thiem wore him down. I think Borna Coric or Stefanos Tsitsipas plays that role in Rome. Roger will open against either Frances Tiafoe or Joao Sousa (two tough opponents), then likely Coric who will battle Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round. If Fed gets through the Croat, I think Tsitsipas takes him out. The Greek’s won Estoril, finals in Madrid where he beat Nadal. BEAT NADAL! That’s pretty good. And of course he’s already beaten Federer before and after a good draw out to the quarters, on his better surface I think he does it again. The kid’s very level-headed, very poised and he’s got the game to hurt Roger on clay. And he’s beating these top guys!
The Pick: Stefanos Tsitsipas

What do we make of Rafael Nadal this year? He’s getting older, he’s wearing down, he’s not as formidable as he once was and now he’s losing weekly on the clay. Does that continue in Rome? I’m not sure. It’s easy to pick Rafa to breakout and win one just because of history, but looking at the results on paper, things are different these days. Luckily, at least early for Rafa, he has a great draw which leads to a Friday quarterfinal with Thiem who also has a very nice road. So between Rafa and Thiem, I think Rafa is the call because he’s won this event eight times and after missing Monte, Barcelona and Madrid, it’s getting desperate.
The Pick: Rafael Nadal

Djokovic d Zverev: Rematch of the 2017 final goes the other way.
Nadal d Tsitsipas: Altitude not a factor, better conditions for Rafa and he gets his revenge on the Greek who may be tiring after a great few weeks.

Djokovic d Nadal: I think Novak now has that confidence, avenges a semifinal loss to Nadal last year. For Rafa, at least he gets to a clay final but his title defense comes up just short. So that’s progress, no?

While Federer’s return was the headline entering the clay season, who saw Rafa come up short in three events leading into Rome trumping that? No one. And so here we are in uncharted waters wondering if the King of Clay is dead.

I don’t know. He doesn’t know and we won’t know for a while. He’s healthy, he’s motivated and still shows flashes of power, but he’ll be 33 in less than a month and after years of physical tennis – I know a lot of people never thought he’d last this long – maybe it’s catching up.

Or maybe not.

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19 Comments for Big 3 Of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer Headline Rome Field

Daniel Says:

Just don’t agree that much on Tsisi here. He player 9 matches in 12 days (2 finals) and said himself he was gassed for Madrid final. He will have to return to court on Wednesday. Let’s see if fatigue will get to him, he may loses earlier than Fed’s QF match.

Zverev also a big toss up, but eventually he will get back on track rigth?!

If its Djoko vs Nadal final agree with Djoko winning (if he avoid some long matches, specially semis). With Nadal low on confidence last thing he want is Djoko across the net after AO 19′ and Djoko high on confidence after Madrid.

j-kath Says:

Daniel: Re. Rafa: Might have agreed with you had there not been personal undertones – i.e. his proposed marriage makes me think his thoughts are on his future as a married man rather than tennis. That said, I expect he’ll make at least one dedicated effort this time around. Who knows? I don’t write him off.

Daniel Says:

Yeah JK, forgot to mnetion that ref getting married. On a subconscious level, it may be affecting him and his mental “sharpinees”. Many of the mistakes he is making seems a bit of lack of focus or keeping the same level and edge all match. Maybe its just too many matches and mileage, it takes a tool long run.

chrisford1 Says:

In the Be Careful What You Wish For department:

In his press interview in Italy today a reporter asked Djokovic if he was surprised Rafa is not playing his best, Djokovic responded.
After declaring Rafa the best ever on clay and always the favorite because of that. Then Djokovic added he wants Rafael Nadal to rediscover his best form so the pair can meet in the French Open final.

If Rafa is in his best form, and Novak is in his best form, odds are Rafa wins.

Wog Boy Says:

Since I am pretty much internet illiterate, can anyone post link for TX thread after Miami final or explain how to go back to TX old threads, thanks?

Wog Boy Says:

^^ Don’t bother, I got it.

Andy Mira Says:

Hi WB….Ermm…on top of this article,u will see a words “Home,xblog,Players,Event etc”…just click the ‘xblog’,it will take u the page where it contained all the blogs in the past…

Scroll to the bottom to the last article,there u will find the word ‘Previous’…click that again & again until u find what u’re looking for okay?

Andy Mira Says:

Hahahaha…Oppss!…i’m a little bit late!Sorry!

Wog Boy Says:

Hi AM,
Good to read you again, thanks very much for taking the time to explain it, my way of finding the articlr was much harder :)

j-kath Says:

Andy Mira: Have you just returned from a world tour? Back home in time for Ramadan? Then off again for Rafa’s wedding?

Andy Mira Says:

Hi back WB…Oh,u’re very much welcome WB!….your way was much harder?Hahaha…sorry,i was late to your rescue WB but i’m happy u find it nonetheless :)

JK….Hahahaha…not world tour…more to hibernate actually…
Btw…how r u JK?Hope everythings fine in your world…
Hey!….i read today that Andy start practicing at Wimbledon…can’t wait to see him play again…when he ready to return of coz!

j-kath Says:

AM: In the middle of chaos – waiting, waiting and waiting for workmen – painters, electrician, plumber, joiner…..and patience is not one of my few virtues.

Andy – am a bit torn – he’s looking so well and happy right now – if he returns to tennis don’t think I’ll be able to watch.

I note Sasha continues his downward dip …..maybe he should do something else with his hands – take up knitting……?

Andy Mira Says:

JK…Oh!…hehe…that’s okay!…i’m sure whe n everythings is all will be worth the wait..and u can smile again…

Bout Andy…yeah!…he seems happy(with new teeth of cozzzzz)…and still very eager & passionate about tennis…I also read many experienced players gave a very positive words about Andy..and i gotta admit,it’s really soothing & calming to hear a players who have an inside knowledge of playing tennis at a high level & have a serious injuries themselves can be so reassuring when give a verdict about Andy…so,that’s a good news i guess…

Bout Sascha….yeah!…he & Dimi share the same boat atm….and the similarities between them is that,both r having the slump just after won ATP final…But,i think Sascha will come back soon…He still got age on his side….

skeezer Says:

Z out yet again to a WC like…..early. How early? Like his first match this tournament (2nd rd).
This dude does not deserve his ranking atm, WTH?
10 Tournies entered so far this year, made only one semi’s and one finals ( Mexico ). Losing to well known players Stuff, Munar, Jarry, Garin and now Berrettini.
Where is this guys head? Surely not on his neck.

Daniel Says:

Ok, Now is official, Zverev is on a mental walkabaout! I am a bit Coria like scared for him. Too young to be going through this patch with no particular reason (injury, heartbrekaing loss, etc…)

Depending on Tissi and Kei’s results Zevrev can get down to #7. At least he is no longer top 4 seed which would make any draw he is in loopsided, as he is actually a top 20 at this point (his race ranking shows, #15).

skeezer Says:

^thanks for that D, was wondering whre is ranking are/going, etc.
Meanwhile, heard Nick started his match by serving his first serve underhand.

j-kath Says:

Yes AM agree with comments re. Grigor – he’s too busy playing Casanova and not getting any younger (and with Skeezer/David’s remarks re. Zverev – even if he is younger)- I just think these guys with so much talent rely on it and believe that potential alone, without the hard training work, will give them the results they believe they are entitled to. They simply ignore the need to build up their stamina, etc. etc.

Anyway, I’m mouthing off – so better go and follow the latest Brexit news which will give me a lot more to complain about.

chrisford1 Says:

I wouldn’t say where Rafa is in the draw is favorable. He may have ease at first, but his path is likely Thiem, Tsisipas, Djokovic if he wants the title.
Maybe, aside from Fabio Fognini, the last 3 guys Rafa wants to face in a row

Andy Mira Says:

Okay JK!…Good luck with your house moderation okay?All the best to u!

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