Italian Open Preview: Denis Shapovalov Looks To Continue His Momentum In Rome

Ubitennis previews the two stand out matches taking place at today's Italian Open.

Denis Shapovalov (zimbio.com)

In both the men’s and women’s draws this week in Rome, almost all of the top 20 players are entered. In the 64-player draws, with only 16 seeds, top players start to run into each other rather quickly. Here’s a look at the most intriguing match from each side of the draw on Tuesday’s schedule.

Tomas Berdych vs. Denis Shapovalov

Berdych may have 13 years more experience than Shapovalov, but the 19-year-old actually has five more wins than Tomas in 2018. Denis went on a tear last week in Madrid, advancing to the semifinals with victories over Kyle Edmund as well as the number one Canadian, Milos Raonic. Berdych meanwhile is on a three-match losing streak, dating back to Miami where he was upset by Frances Tiafoe in a final set tiebreak. Will the youngster have enough left to defeat another higher seed today in Rome? In their only previous match, Berdych prevailed at Queen’s Club last year in a tight match, 7-5 in the third. That was one of the first signs of things to come for Shapovalov. Denis has only gotten better since that match last June. However, I’m concerned Shapavalov will be a bit burnt out after last week’s run, and wouldn’t be surprised to see Berdych pull this one out.

Elina Svitolina vs. Petra Martic
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While Svitolina already has two titles in 2018, she’s stalled a bit on the clay. She went just 2-2 in Stuttgart and Madrid. But perhaps that will bode well for her Roland Garros chances, as Svitolina’s pattern has been to win titles in the lead-up tournaments, yet fail to advance passed the quarterfinals at a major. Her opponent on Tuesday has quietly put together very solid results over the past 12 months. Martic has made it to the fourth round at three of the last four majors, which included getting through qualifying at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon last year. The 27-year-old first advanced to a major fourth round back at the 2012 French Open, but in the coming years the Croatian battled injury and saw her ranking plummet. She was outside the top 600 just over a year ago. Martic and Svitolina met at Roland Garros last year, where Svitolina squeezed out a victory 7-5 in the third. In that third set, Martic squandered a 5-2 lead, losing the last five games and a chance to advance to her first major quarterfinal. I’m sure she’ll be motivated to avenge that loss, but she may also have some demons from that match in Paris.

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