ATP Rome Day 3 Predictions Including Ben Shelton vs Alexander Bublik

Ben Shelton ahead of ATP Rome

After the first two days of unseeded action, we now get the Top 32 players in the draw involved at ATP Rome. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. Which seeds are primed for an early exit?

ATP Rome Day 3 Predictions

Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Alexei Popyrin

Head-to-head: Popyrin 1-0 Auger-Aliassime

Auger-Aliassime kicked off his season with a loss to Popyrin in Adelaide and has had inconsistent result throughout 2023. The Canadian reached the Indian Wells quarterfinals and Australian Open fourth round but rook early exits in Dubai, Miami, and most recently Madrid. After the Adelaide win, Popyrin went on to reach the quarterfinals there as a qualifier, beat Taylor Fritz to make the Australian Open third round and has had a mix of mostly mediocre results at ATP and Challenger events since. The Australian managed to qualify past Riccardo Bonadio and Andrea Pellegrino before taking out his countryman Christopher O’Connell. Popyrin will be an interesting challenge but I believe this slower clay will allow Auger-Aliassime to get into his groove and maybe put a deep run together.

Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 2
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Karen Khachanov vs Gregoire Barrere

Head-to-head: Khachanov 1-0 Barrere

While Khachanov has suffered some early exits this season, the Russian has had some of his best results, reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and Miami. He also had a good week at Madrid, beating Andrey Rublev to reach the quarterfinals with the two teaming up to win the doubles title. Since winning the Quimper Challenger at the end of January, Barrere got a couple more runs on indoor hard, beat Cameron Norrie to reach the third round of Miami, but has struggled on clay. The Frenchman was 2-4 on clay coming into Rome, only beating Hamad Medjedovic and Emilio Nava before besting Brandon Nakashima in his opener. This is a good first round for Khachanov and he should advance.

Prediction: Khachanov in 2
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Sebastian Baez vs Alexander Shevchenko

Head-to-head: first meeting

Baez won his second ATP title in Cordoba in February but the Argentine has continued to struggle on hard, going 1-5 in 2023 and this time has struggled to bring his form to European clay courts as well, 3-3 coming into Rome. Baez beat Juan Pablo Varillas in his opener but will not come up against a breakthrough prospect in Shevchenko. The 22-year-old first showed his potential with a Challenger title in Bratislava last summer but this season, he has been able to achieve far better results on hard courts, winning the Tenerife Challenger and beating Matteo Berrettini to reach the final of the Phoenix Challenger as a qualifier. After an initial stumble in Italy, Shevchenko has continued his form with a Madrid Challenger title before going on to reach the third round at the Madrid Masters as a qualifier. The Russian enters as a lucky loser, beating Oleksii Krutykh before losing to Arthur Fils.  I expect a very good and even match that could truly go either way.

Prediction: Shevchenko in 3
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Ben Shelton vs Alexander Bublik

Head-to-head: first meeting

Shelton has absolutely speed ran his career over the past 11 months, his rampage across the US Challenger tour fast tracking him to the main tour in 2023. His Australian adventure ended better than he would have ever hoped with a quarterfinal in Melbourne. The American’s wins have been spare since but he has committed to getting play on red clay, playing five events on the surface before Rome. Shelton’s learning curve on clay has been impressive over the spring, beating Fabian Marozsan and Giulio Zeppieri to reach the quarterfinals of the Cagliari Challenger. The 20-year-old’s game has potential on clat and the match-up against Bublik is an interesting one. The Kazakh lost his first eight matches of the season before reaching a semifinal in Marseille. Clay is Bublik’s worst surface but has has been able to push the best, going a set up on Alexander Zverev in Monte Carlo and pushing Holger Rune to 11-9 in the third-set tiebreak in Madrid. I expect an entertaining match of varying quality with Shelton winning out.

Prediction: Shelton in 3

Main Photo Credit: Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK