The ATP Rome Masters has been eventful, to say the least. While five out of the top eight seeds managed to reach the quarterfinals, it has been a bumpy ride for most. Who will make the semis?
ATP Rome Masters Quarterfinal Predictions
Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head to head: Djokovic 4-2 Tsitsipas
After a shaky opener against Taylor Fritz, Djokovic quickly dismissed the in-form Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-1 on Thursday. The Serbian needed a breather ahead of a potential murderer’s row of opponents this weekend. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas defeated Marin Cilic and Madrid finalist Matteo Berrettini at the Foro Italico. The matchup versus the Italian had two very distinct phases. Early on, Tsitsipas couldn’t get anything going on return, but the momentum shifted in the first set tiebreak, especially after a controversial double bounce no-call.
Djokovic and Tsitsipas typically deliver high-quality tennis in direct duels. The 2020 Roland Garros semifinal comes to mind. The World No. 1 was phenomenal out of the gates, but the 22-year-old evened the match in scintillating fashion before he cramped out in the fifth set.
Tsisipas’ early loss in Madrid was probably a blessing in disguise. At a Major, I’d probably be leaning Djokovic, but Tsitsipas has clearly been playing better ball throughout this clay campaign, so I’ll take the World No. 5.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 2
Lorenzo Sonego vs Andrey Rublev
Head to head: Rublev 2-0 Sonego
Sonego doesn’t go on many deep runs at tour level, but when he does, he makes sure he is noticed. After his inconsistent debut against Gael Monfils, few would have guessed the Italian would be capable of elevating his level enough to upset none other than US Open champion Dominic Thiem.
Rublev appears to be back on track after a couple of iffy performances in Barcelona and Madrid. On Italian soil, the Russian overcame an inspired Jan-Lennard Struff and the ever-dangerous Roberto Bautista Agut. It’s hard to see the underdog Sonego upending Rublev following his 3-hour 24-minute marathon against Thiem.
Prediction: Rublev in 2
Federico Delbonis vs Reilly Opelka
Head to head: first meeting
If you correctly predicted this quarterfinal when the draw came out, please tell me which number will win the next Powerball jackpot. Fine, Delbonis had been picking up steam of late with nine wins in his previous three tournaments, but he’s shattered expectations by defeating Karen Khachanov, David Goffin and Felix Auger-Aliassime back-to-back-to-back. Impressive stuff, sure, but not nearly as unexpected as Opelka’s run. Not only did the 6’11” American enter the Rome Masters riding a 6-match losing streak, but he had only collected two career wins on clay prior to this week. Opelka has fired 59 dingers en route to straight sets wins over Richard Gasquet, local favorite Lorenzo Musetti, and the streaking Aslan Karatsev. When two players full of confidence are clashing, the margins should be razor thin.
Prediction: Opelka in 2
Alexander Zverev vs Rafael Nadal
Head to head: Nadal 5-3 Zverev
Merely a week after their last meeting, Zverev will attempt to beat Nadal for a second time in consecutive weeks on clay. That achievement has only been unlocked once, back when Djokovic had his breakthrough season in 2011. Ten years ago, the relentless Serbian stopped the King of Clay precisely in Rome and Madrid.
In the previous round, Zverev proved too strong for an inspired Kei Nishikori, prevailing 4-6 6-3 6-4. For his part, Nadal had to dig deep against fellow lefty Denis Shapovalov, surviving a myriad of extreme situations, including two match points, on the way to a 3-6 6-4 7-6 win. The 13-time French Open champion has yet to find his usual groove and the fact Zverev has won their previous three meetings doesn’t help his cause. Doubting Nadal’s ability to turn it up on clay is admittedly a worrisome sign, but I believe he will be packing his bags back to Manacor earlier than expected. That being said, a potential loss here would mean next to nothing ahead of Roland Garros.
Prediction: Zverev in 3
Main Photo from Getty.