Italian Open Wednesday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day
These are the two must-see matches on the fourth day of the Italian Open in Rome.
Wednesday is a great day to have a ticket to see the tennis in Rome, with an absolutely jam-packed schedule. The players taking to the courts on Wednesday combine for a total of 47 major singles titles. You know it’s a stacked card when Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Caroline Wozniacki are scheduled on Stadio Pietrangeli, the third court at Parco del Foro Italico. With so many high-profile matches on the schedule, here’s my best guess as to what will be the most intriguing contests to watch on a busy day in Rome.
Simona Halep vs. Naomi Osaka
This will be the first match of the day on Stadio Pietrangeli, one of the favorite courts in the world of fans and players alike. It’s a rematch from just two months ago at Indian Wells, a semifinal where Halep curiously won just three games and lacked the fight we’ve seen from her so often in the past year. Simona had previously defeated Naomi rather easily in Australia back in January. Halep has struggled since that bizarre Indian Wells match, failing to advance to another semifinal in Miami, Stuttgart, and Madrid. Meanwhile, I doubted Osaka’s chances against Victoria Azarenka in Rome on Monday, but she had no problem at all, dropping just three games. If Halep loses this match, she also loses her number one ranking. She’d also arrive in Paris with no momentum whatsoever, so this is a big match for Simona. I would expect Halep to fight her way through this one, but both Halep and Osaka have surprised me recently in different ways. Regardless, their contrast in styles should make for a good match.
Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas
Later in the day on the same court, a beloved 29-year-old faces a red hot 19-year-old. A few months ago, Del Potro asserted himself as the player to beat on the ATP tour, with back-to-back titles in Acapulco and Indian Wells, and a semifinal run in Miami. But doing so on clay is a tougher task for the big man. After giving his body a rest in April, Del Potro returned to play last week in Madrid, where he was upset in the round of 16 in a final set tiebreak by Dusan Lajovic. Juan Martin will look to get some clay momentum this week ahead of Roland Garros, where he’s a former semifinalist. Tsitsipas has been the breakout player of this clay court season, where he advanced to his first ATP final in Barcelona. That run included victories over three top 20 players. He immediately followed that up the next week in Estoril, making the semifinals there. He’s now come through qualifying in Rome for his first meeting against Del Potro. It should be interesting to see how this one unfolds, especially in front of a late-afternoon crowd on this outer court.