The Rome Masters men’s draw has been announced, and it looks sure to be a good event given the line-up.
And while the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem will, as usual, receive byes in the first round, four first round fixtures catch the eye.
Kei Nishikori v Fabio Fognini
Nishikori has only won two clay titles in his long career, both in Barcelona, but has reached the semi-final of Rome before. Having recently come back from injury, the 31-year-old has been finding his form again and is starting to show signs of the old Nishikori back on court.
Meanwhile Fognini has several clay titles to his name including the 2019 Monte-Carlo Masters. However he has never reached further than the quarter-finals in Rome.
You can never write the 33-year old Italian veteran off, though, as he is anything but predictable.
Nishikori is 2-1 ahead in their head to head meetings, and won their one match on clay court in Madrid.
Hubert Hurkacz v Lorenzo Musetti
Musetti has been turning heads lately with many saying he has the makings of the next Roger Federer.
The 19-year-old reached the semi-final of the Mexican Open beating Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov earlier this year, and had an excellent run to the last 16 in Rome last season.
Hurkacz was the surprise winner in Miami this year winning his first Masters 1000 title and moving into the top 20 world rankings for the first time. The young Polish ace beat both Dan Evans and Andrey Rublev in Rome in 2019.
Jannik Sinner v Ugo Humbert
The 19-year-old Italian has had an impressive season so far, reaching his first Masters 1000 final in Miami, the Barcelona semi-final and the quarterfinals in Madrid while also breaking into the Top 20 rankings.
Meanwhile 22-year-old Humbert is capable of beating anyone having previously won against Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. In his one meeting with Sinner so far in 2018, Humbert was the victor.
Casper Ruud v Denis Shapovalov
Ruud is in top form at the moment, reaching three consecutive semi-finals on clay-court Masters.
He has reached the semi-finals in his last two events this year – Monte-Carlo and Munich, and says he is playing the ‘tennis of this life’ this season.
Meanwhile Shapovalov, although struggling so far this season, had an impressive 2020 Rome campaign reaching the semi-finals and the big Canadian can never be ruled out.
This will also be the first head-to-head fixture between the players, who are both 22-years-old.
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