Day 3 of the ATP Rome Masters sees defending champion Novak Djokovic return to the court as he starts his bid to win the title for a sixth time. It also sees the return of veteran Frenchman, Gael Monfils, who is still one of the game’s great entertainers. As ever, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for every match on the slate, including Aslan Karatsev vs Daniil Medvedev and Pablo Carreno Busta vs Kei Nishikori. But who will advance?
ATP Rome Masters Day 3 Predictions
John Millman vs Dusan Lajovic
Head-to-head: Lajovic 1 – 0 Millman
This is a very tricky match to call. Lajovic dominated their first and only meeting on clay back in 2018, but his form hasn’t been close to this recently. In fact, Lajovic is yet to win a match on clay this season. It’s a shame as we’ve seen many time how effective a player he can be. Millman has had some great results on the clay so far this season, along with a few disappointing losses. However, as form goes, Millman is looking far superior.
Neither player is at their best right now, but this should still be an interesting match. Millman’s grinding and solid tennis is suiting him much better on clay this season, and usually Lajovic’s stunning one-hand backhand and wonderful touch would’ve made for an interesting clash. Given the Serbian’s poor form, it’s hard to see him winning this one. Expect a bit of fightback from Lajovic, but Millman should take it.
Prediction: Millman in 3
Lorenzo Sonego vs Gael Monfils
Head-to-head: Monfils 1 – 0 Sonego
Gael Monfils has had an incredibly difficult time over the last year, and he hasn’t competed since the Australian Open, so it’s fantastic to see him finally back playing. He’s struggled immensely since losing to Djokovic in Duabi 2020 after having match points, and has lost all six of his matches since then. Before this, he was in some of the best form of his career, and many fans will be hoping he can bring this in Rome. Lorenzo Sonego will pose a threat though, and Monfils will have his work cut out for him.
Sonego has gathered plenty of excellent results in recent years across all surfaces, and is comfortably one of the top Italian players on tour right now. His dismantling of Novak Djokovic in Vienna last year proved just how powerful and dangerous he can be. No doubt, a highly competitive affair awaits us here, and it could go either way. We’ll give this one to Monfils, who after such a long time out will be more motivated than ever to get back to winning ways.
Prediction: Monfils in 3
Lorenzo Musetti vs Reilly Opelka
Head-to-head: First meeting
A highly thrilling match-up here as two young guns of the tour face off for what will certainly not be the last time. Lorenzo Musetti is still only 19 years of age but is quite simply an unbelievable talent who is looking to have a sensational career. Opelka, often touted as the next John Isner, is also making great strides. While his enormous serve, thanks to his 6 ft 11 frame, is a major weapon of his, his groundstrokes are excellent for someone of his height. He proved this in round one by dismantling Gasquet in straight sets, breaking him multiple times.
Musetti will have to be serving at his best, as conceding a break will invariably cost him a set. However, he has a much more versatile and effective all-court game as he can hit with plenty of power but his placement, consistency, and speed around the court is also excellent. It would be unsurprising to see this match go the distance with at least a tiebreak in there. Musetti should be good enough on the big points to win here, but it will be tight.
Prediction: Musetti in 3
Novak Djokovic vs Taylor Fritz
Head-to-head: Djokovic 3 – 0 Fritz
Novak Djokovic’s first match since his defeat to Aslan Karatsev at the Serbia Open sees him face off against Taylor Fritz, the man who came so close to knocking him out at the Australian Open this year. Djokovic has suffered a couple of disappointing defeats this clay season, and will be hoping to get his act together this week. Fritz secured an impressive victory against Dan Evans in the first round, who has been having a great season on clay. However, facing the five time Rome champion Djokovic will be an immensely tough ask, and he’s never won more than 4 games in a set on clay against him.
Fritz is definitely capable of upsetting the best players on his day. He is so deceptively powerful and when he’s in the mood he can be devastating. If he can bring this, then it could be a close encounter. However, Djokovic will be hungry for this title and knows that he has ranking points to defend, so his motivation will be very high. Even if Fritz plays well, it’s unlikely he’ll do enough to cause Djokovic big problems, so the world #1 should take this one in straight sets.
Prediction: Djokovic in 2
Main Photo from Getty.