After a rain-affected day, let’s hope that Wednesday brings brighter skies and more thrilling clay court ATP tennis in Rome. Amongst today’s headlines include Cameron Norrie’s quest to win his 20th match of the season. However, the Brit has a tough test in Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Elsewhere, Denis Shapovalov is looking to improve his clay court form and after a straight forward opening round win, he’ll be continue this form against home favourite Stefano Travagila. Here are my predictions for four matches taking place on Wednesday.
Federico Delbonis vs David Goffin
Head to Head: 1-0 Goffin
This match that was scheduled for Tuesday, but was moved to Wednesday due to weather. David Goffin made a solid start to his clay court season by reaching the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo last month. The Belgian had to come through a tough opening round match against Marin Cilic that week, before recording wins over Marco Cecchinato and Alexander Zverev before falling to the British number 1 Dan Evans. Unfortunately, in Barcelona, Goffin was forced to withdraw against Cameron Norrie in the second round and missed the Madrid Open last week. However, despite not being at his vintage best in his opening round win over Salvatore Caruso on Sunday, Goffin is always a threat on the clay and will be looking to build momentum heading into Roland Garros.
Federico Delbonis will not be an easy opponent for Goffin. The Argentine has built some momentum in recent weeks defeating home favourite Dusan Lajovic in Belgrade, recording a remarkable come-from-behind win against Pablo Carreno Busta in Madrid and followed that up with a straight sets win over Estoril champion Albert Ramos Vinolas. The Argentine came through qualifying this weekend, defeating Frances Tiafoe in his final qualifying match, and in the opening round, he came from a set down to defeat Karen Khachanov, with the Russian winning only seven points in the decider.
The Belgian’s game is easier on the eye and he possesses one of the best backhands on the ATP Tour, with the ability to change direction effectively. Delbonis has one of the most unconventional serves, but it can be effective and he is a great mover on the clay. However, I think the Belgian is more consistent and his ground-strokes are less likely to break down from the back of the court. I’m predicting a tight straight sets win for the Belgian.
Prediction: Goffin in 2
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina vs Cameron Norrie
Head to Head: 1-0 Davidovich Fokina
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina has been having a breakthrough season on the ATP Tour. The Spaniard has had a great clay court season so far reaching the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo and the semifinals in Estoril. In the opening round, Davidovich Fokina recorded an impressive straight sets victory against Grigor Dimitrov. The Spaniard does have areas of his game that he needs to work on, such as his serve, as well as maintaining consistency. However, Davidovich Fokina is a player to keep an eye on for the rest of the season.
Cameron Norrie is having the best season of his career so far. The Brit has won 19 matches this season and has been effective on both the hard and clay courts. After a successful Australian Open that saw him reach the third round, Norrie has built on that run, reaching his second ATP final in Estoril, where he was just edged out by Albert Ramos Vinolas in straight sets. In his opening round win over Carballes Baena, Norrie started the match well before his usually reliable forehand let him down. However, he mentally showed few signs of frustration and got the win in straight sets. The Brit’s combination of an accurate serve with a heavy topspin forehand and flat backhand means he is a difficult opponent to break down.
Both men will be high on confidence and I think this will go to three sets. However, I think the Brit has more variety that will suit him on this surface. The pair met at the US Open last year, with the Spaniard getting the win, however Norrie’s forehand will generate more bounce and spin on the clay and he can also generate more kick on his serve.
Prediction: Norrie in 3
Gianluca Mager vs Lorenzo Sonego
Head to Head: First meeting
This is an all-Italian clash that promises to be an intriguing encounter. Gianluca Mager received a wildcard into the tournament and has made the most of the opportunity to play this week, getting his first main draw Masters 1,000 win over Alex De Minaur in the opening round. The Italian has recorded impressive results this clay court season, winning the Andalucia Challenger event and he reached the quarterfinals 0f Belgrade last month having come through qualifying. There will be no pressure on Mager so he can swing freely and try and assert himself early on in the match.
However, Lorenzo Sonego will not be an easy opponent. The Italian recorded a stunning victory over Novak Djokovic in Vienna last season. Although the world number 1 wasn’t at his best that day, Sonego showed impressive composure under pressure and won in straight sets. Sonego has had a solid season so far, with the highlight undoubtedly winning the clay court title in Sardinia in the first week of the clay court season. On his day, the Italian possesses impressive firepower and is a good mover on the clay.
I think this will go to three sets, as both men have been playing well this clay court season and Mager is not to be underestimated. However, I think Sonego will cope with the pressure better and he has more tools in his game, so I think he will get the win.
Prediction: Sonego in 3
Denis Shapovalov vs Stefano Travagila
Head to Head: First Meeting
Denis Shapovalov has not been having the best of seasons so far on the ATP Tour. The Canadian is undoubtedly incredibly talented and has the game to be in the Top 10. However, he has struggled under pressure and failed to produce a consistent run of form.
In many ways, his opening round defeat to Corentin Moutet in Estoril was a microcosm of his season so far. Despite leading the opening set, the Canadian could not keep the unforced errors down and lost it. After bouncing back to take the second set, the Canadian lost the match. However, in the opening round, Shapovalov made light work of Kamil Majchrzak, winning in straight sets for the loss of only four games. Let’s hope this week is the start for an improvement in the Canadian’s fortunes because on his day, he is one of the most exciting players to watch on the ATP Tour.
Stefano Travagila is one of a long list of Italian’s competing in Rome this week. After reaching his first ATP Tour final at the start of the season at the Great Ocean Road Open, Travagila has failed to win a main-draw match before this week and has mainly had to play qualifying for tour events. However, in the opening round, he was able to record a straight sets victory over Benoit Paire. Despite the Frenchman’s well known off court issues, it is still a good win for the Italian. This should give him some confidence. However, the fact that there are no fans in the stadium to cheer him on is a huge blow.
Despite his lack of form, I think the Canadian has too many weapons that can hurt the Italian. I’m expecting Shapovalov to play well this week as he has a point to prove and will be determined to gain some sort of momentum heading into Roland Garros. I think he gets the win in straight sets.
Prediction: Shapovalov in 2
Main Photo from Getty.