Down to the final eight players in the ATP Rome draw with the surprise absence of Carlos Alcaraz and the inclusion of Yannick Hanfmann. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. Who do you think will win?
ATP Rome Quarterfinal Predictions
Novak Djokovic vs Holger Rune
Head-to-head: Djokovic 1-1 Rune
Despite coming into Rome 2-2 on clay in 2023, Djokovic’s record in Rome has made him an instant favorite. The World No. 1 is looking to win his 7th Italian Open, 15 years on from his first in 2008. Djokovic has made the final of Rome every year since 2014 with the exception of 2018 when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, a tall order for Rune to match. It has not all been smooth sailing for the Serb, he had to play himself in the form against Tomas Martin Etcheverry while dissatisfied with the court quality. Djokovic then dropped a set to Grigor Dimitrov but the win was never really in doubt as he dominated the decider 6-1. The 35-year-old dealt with Cameron Norrie in straight sets but accused the Brit of ‘not fair play’ as Norrie hit Djokovic with an overhead at the net after he turned around and started walking back before the point finished, though the intent is questionable at best. The Serb was also displeased with Norrie’s targeted and frequent come-ons and MTO timing.
Rune started his clay season with a run to the Monte Carlo final, narrowly losing to Andrey Rublev but only had to wait a week before winning his first title of the year in Munich, getting a rematch against Botic van de Zandschulp and going all the way to a third-set tiebreak after the Dutchman had to retire from the final last year after seven games. The Dane was upset by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a tight 6-7 7-5 6-7 third round after he beat Alexander Bublik 11-9 in the deciding set tiebreak in his opener. Rune has bounced back well in Rome, the conditions suiting him more, dropping just six games each to Arthur Fils and Fabio Fognini in his first two rounds. The 20-year-old was pushed for the first time in the draw by Alexei Popyrin, Rune managing to win 6-4 5-7 6-4. Djokovic won their first meeting at the US Open 2021, Rune managing to win a set despite severe cramping at just 18 years old and introduced himself to the tennis world at large. Little over a year later, Rune beat Djokovic in the Paris-Bercy final to crown his incredible indoor hard run to finish last season. On current form, I see Djokovic winning and he still has multiple gears that he’s not yet had to access this week. I expect Rune to meet the moment and give a valiant performance but it will not be enough.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3
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Casper Ruud vs Francisco Cerundolo
Head-to-head: Cerundolo 2-1 Ruud
Ruud has reached the semifinals and lost to Djokovic in straight sets in his last two Rome appearances and the Norwegian will be looking to at least defend his points. The World No. 4 has largely struggled this season, not managing to get back-to-back wins in the first quarter, getting some much-needed matches and confidence in Estoril where Ruud won the title. He didn’t manage to carry the momentum though, going 2-3 across Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid, losing to his upcoming opponent in the second round of Barcelona in straight sets. Ruud has managed to string wins together again but with Arthur Rinderknech, Alexander Bublik, and Laslo Djere as his opponents, there are still question marks around the No. 4 going into the quarterfinals.
Cerundolo has been mostly disappointing on clay this season and had his best results on hard heading into the week with a Miami quarterfinal. The Argentine failed to advance past the quarterfinal stage in four Golden Swing events, and though he got wins over Cameron Norrie and Ruud in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, Cerundolo could not translate them into deeper runs, losing the following match from a set up on both occasions. It has not been easy for Cerundolo, coming back from a set down in all three of his wins this week over Wu Yibing, Gregoire Barrere, and Jannik Sinner, who was affected by a viral illness. Cerundolo’s Barcelona win saw him take the lead in their head-to-head after they split their first two meetings, Ruud ending the Argentine’s breakout run to Miami semifinals last year while Cerundolo pulled off the upset 7-5 in the third in Bastad. After Ruud was pushed to a third-set tiebreak by Bublik he has bounced back with a strong win over Djere and I believe he will eliminate Cerundolo as well (and lose to Djokovic in a straight-set semifinal for the third time in a row)
Prediction: Ruud in 2
Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports