Day 4 of the ATP Rome 1000 brings us some more Round 2 action. We’ve seen some exciting tiebreaks and top seed upsets already. But who will move on to attempt to unseat 10-time champion and defending crown-holder Nadal? We share our thoughts on the day’s matches.
Rome Day 4 Predictions
Pablo Carreno Busta vs Karen Khachanov
Head-to-head: Carreno Busta 3-4 Khachanov
Pablo Carreno Busta is having a decent year, and has picked up his game even more since the start of the clay season, having made the finals at Barcelona last month. Khachanov, meanwhile, has been mediocre this year in general, and no better on clay. To make matters worse for the Russian, despite his owning the H2H, he has lost both matchups on clay. Khachanov wins by overpowering his opponents, but the mobile and powerful Carreno Busta should be able to handle the big forehands and serves coming his way, without the quickness of a hard court to augment the Russian’s game. I feel a bit like I’m slighting Khachanov to pick this one in two, but I like Carreno Busta right now.
Prediction: Carreno Busta in 2
Tommy Paul vs Alex de Minaur
Head-to-head: Paul 0-1 de Minaur
Prior to 2022, Alex de Minaur did not appear to be a fan of clay, winning far less than on either grass or hard. But he has acquitted himself well on the surface this season, including a semifinal run in Barcelona. This to go along with an otherwise decent season, too. Neither he nor Tommy Paul have much experience or success here in Rome, though, and their H2H was on hard court. Additionally, both are relatively inexperienced on clay at the ATP level. Paul has had a fair season overall, though he hasn’t played well this last month. (Maybe he’s bored? He’s the only person I’ve ever seen yawning in his ATP profile.) But to balance these stats even more, Paul has a higher career win percentage on clay. But I like how de Minaur is playing better than how Paul is playing at the moment, and I don’t know that the American has the power or strategy to break through the Aussie’s speedy defenses.
Prediction: de Minaur in 3
Fabio Fognini vs Jannik Sinner
Head-to-head: first meeting
Sinner has been his usual mechanical self, though strangely compiling a 22-5 record on the year without having played in even a semifinal. He is not known as a clay court specialist, and yet he has a higher win percentage on the surface than some who are considered specialists. Fognini has eight clay titles in his career, but has faded these last couple of years, and has been merely mediocre this season. He has extensive experience in Rome, though with mixed results, the best of which being his demolition of world #1 Andy Murray in 2017. I want to give Sinner the match on the basis of thinking that his style will bore Fognini, and will bring out the version of the veteran that smirks at his errors and shoots off a quick handshake at the net before going on to do something more exciting with his life. But I wonder whether the match being in Italy may spur Fognini on to a greater effort. With a little trepidation I call this in two rather than three, on the basis of Sinner’s robotic efficiency.
Prediction: Sinner in 2
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Grigor Dimitrov
Head-to-head: Tsitsipas 4-1 Dimitrov
Dimitrov feels how Tsitsipas would feel if the latter saw Carlos Alcaraz in the draw again. The unfortunate Bulgarian has already lost to the Greek twice on clay in the last month, and both times handily. Tsitsipas captured their only other clay meeting as well. It’s too bad, because Dimitrov has otherwise been playing well this last month. Tsitsipas has been bulldozing just about everyone except the aforementioned Spaniard, en route to 27 wins already, and for a career has a win percentage on clay 17 points higher than Dimitrov’s. He has been very consistent this year, and should manage this one the same as the last two.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 2
Main Photo from Getty.