Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rome Masters Preview

World number one Novak Djokovic makes his return in Rome after sitting out Madrid, and is the favorite to take home yet another Masters title.  Like usual it's a loaded field, and everyone will be hoping to peak leading up to Roland Garros.  While there will be lots of worthy challengers, it's hard to see anyone keeping Djokovic from holding the trophy.

The first quarter features Djokovic and 5th seed Kei Nishikori, with the dangerous Nick Kyrgios lurking in this section.  Kyrgios has been playing better on clay than was expected, and could give Nishikori a run for his money in the round of 16.  However, the more experienced Nishikori should be able to sneak past the young Australian, before falling to Djokovic in the quarters.

Andy Murray and David Ferrer headline the next quarter, with the dangerous Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Marin Cilic also present.  Murray has really had no break for the last two weeks, and is ripe for an upset based on fatigue.  Look for Tsonga to face Ferrer in the quarters, with the veteran Spaniard prevailing in a tight affair. 

The first quarter in the bottom half includes Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, and big hitting Americans Jack Sock and John Isner.  Sock has been in good form lately, and appears ready to make a big run.  Look for Sock to knock out Gilles Simon and Wawrinka on his way to the quarters.  Isner could certainly give Nadal trouble in the round of 16, but it's hard to imagine him actually pulling the upset.  Unless Nadal is gassed from his run in Madrid, Nadal should be way too much for Sock in the quarters, and should prevail over the American in straight sets. 

The bottom quarter is led by Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer, who are heavy favorites to meet in the quarters.  Dimitrov traditionally matches up well with Berdych and could trouble him in the round of 16, but Berdych has been the far superior player in 2015.  Look for Federer to top Phillip Kohlschreiber on his way to a matchup with Berdych, as the German has been finding his form of late.  In the quarters Berdych should be able to top Federer, who hasn't really looked like himself this clay court season.  Federer has lost to Monfils and Kyrgios in recent weeks, and could struggle against Berdych's power. 

In the semifinals, Djokovic should top Ferrer without much difficulty.  He hasn't lost to Ferrer since 2011, and it's unlikely that changes in Rome.  In a rematch of the Madrid semifinals, look for Rafael Nadal once again to take out Tomas Berdych.  Unless Nadal has nothing left, Berdych will likely have little confidence following his weak performance against Nadal in Madrid

In the finals, Djokovic should be able to get past the quickly improving Nadal.  This match may not mean a whole lot in terms of the French Open, as Djokovic is fresh and Nadal is coming off a long week in Madrid.  However, as far as this week goes, Djokovic is the man to beat.  It won't end up meaning much if he doesn't get it done again at the French, but Djokovic's confidence will be high after winning another Masters title in Rome.  

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