It’s only the fourth day of action at the ATP Rome Masters and there are already some mouth-watering matches at stake. We have the gritty Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, taking on 2018 French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, whilst this year’s Monte Carlo champ, Andrey Rublev, will do battle with underrated lefty Alex Molcan. We’ve looked to predict these exciting matches and more on Day 4 in Rome.
We split all 16 of the day’s matches between four articles. Our other three articles feature Carlos Alcaraz vs Albert Ramos Vinolas, Daniil Medvedev vs Emil Ruusuvuori, and Alexander Zverev vs David Goffin. Who do you think will win on Saturday?
ATP Rome Day 4 Predictions
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Marco Cecchinato
Head-to-head: Bautista Agut 2-0 Cecchinato
It’s never been his favorite surface but that’s not to say Roberto Bautista Agut can’t flourish on clay. He likes to find his potent forehand after playing patient cross-court backhands–that backhand is just less likely to draw a central ball from his opponent than it would on a hard-court. Nonetheless, there’s enough raw power in the Spaniard’s strokes to keep his opponents on their guard.
Marco Cecchinato will know he’s got more than a fighting chance here. There’s a reason 17 of the last 23 French Open finals have featured a one-handed backhand–they are extremely heavy, can be used to break that ad-court dynamic and aren’t as exposed on return on this surface. We fancy Cecchinato in a tight match here.
Prediction: Cecchinato in 3
Hubert Hurkacz vs J.J. Wolf
Head-to-head: First meeting
When Hubert Hurkacz started winning matches on clay last year, many assumed he’d cleaned up his forehand. That’s not entirely the case. His service numbers bloated, an indication his serve has gotten to the point of being universally good, a weapon at each and every tournament of the calendar season, at any given moment of any given match.
The better returners in the world might be able to put Hurkacz under some pressure in Rome. Unfortunately, J.J. Wolf doesn’t fit the billing. His return numbers fit the archetype of many American players before him, great behind his serve but fairly woeful on return. It’ll probably be close as it always is on this surface for the Pole but he’s got to be the favorite on pure service-hold-ability alone.
Prediction: Hurkacz in 3
Jason Kubler vs Bernabe Zapata Miralles
Head-to-head: First meeting
Jason Kubler isn’t a lover of clay. It’s not a surface particularly associated with Australia and it shows in Kubler’s record. He’s played four matches against Top 50 opponents, lost every set he’s played and broken serve only once in those four matches.
Bernabe Zapata Miralles may be a Top 50 player but he’s not in the same league as Kubler’s previous Top 50 meetings (Lajovic, Musetti, Norrie, Tiafoe). Kubler will be able to keep up with the rally temperament for sure but it still remains unlikely he does enough to take the win given his clay court history.
Prediction: Zapata Miralles in 2
Andrey Rublev vs Alex Molcan
Head-to-head: Rublev 1-0 Molcan
Alex Molcan and Andrey Rublev only met last month in Banja Luka. It went 6-2 6-4, but it was much closer than the scoreline suggests, Rublev doing far more with his opportunities than Molcan. The Slovakian remains one of the most underrated players on clay–his 27-12 record on clay at ATP level more than speaks for itself.
Rublev can play well anywhere and actually should have fared better in Rome than he has in previous appearances. Though his serve is slowed down, his forehand more than makes up for that, giving him free points on serve where others might not get them. It’s really just a question of where his mind is. Molcan will put up a stern test but we think he’s well rested enough after an early exit in Madrid to come through.
Prediction: Rublev in 3
Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports