In a jam-packed Friday at Foro Italico, all third round matches will be played.
On the men’s side, the heavy favorites are the two men who have combined to win this event 13 out of the last 15 years: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. While the women’s side feels much more wide open, the two most recent champions, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, are two of the top three seeds remaining in the draw. But the slight favorite is a two-time Rome finalist, and recent champion in Prague: top-seeded Simona Halep.
Johanna Konta (7) vs. Garbine Mugruza (9)
This is the only third round singles match between two top 10 seeds. Muguruza advanced to this stage with noteworthy victories over Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff. Konta had a bye in the first round, and dropped just four games yesterday to Irina-Camelia Begu. Konta’s serving prowess has been well-documented, which propelled her to the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open a few weeks ago. Historically a weak performer on clay, that changed dramatically for Konta last year. Jo reached the final both here and in Rabat, and the semifinals at Roland Garros. Still, her clay resume does not compare to that of the 2016 French Open champion. They’ve split four previous meetings, which have all been tight three-setters. There’s no evidence to support a lopsided affair today. But Konta has been the better player since the tour restart last month, and spent significantly less court time this week. If she continues to win a high percentage of first and second serve points today, that may apply more pressure than Muguruza can handle.
Grigor Dimitrov (15) vs. Jannik Sinner (WC)
Dimitrov looked stellar against an outmatched Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday, losing just one game and winning 96% of first serve points. His opponent today should provide much more resistance. Sinner is a fast-rising 19-year-old Italian who two days ago dismissed another ATP Next Gen champion, Stefanos Tsitsipas. Jannik displayed perseverance in doing so despite dropping the second set tiebreak 11-9. Dimitrov was a semifinalist here six years ago, but in more recent years has won as much as he’s lost on this surface. In an event where Italian men have shined, Sinner will be inspired by the play of his fellow countrymen. And the Italian’s firepower off both sides may be enough to secure himself another big win on home soil.
Other Notable Matches on Day 5:
Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Dusan Lajovic. The 30-year-old Serbian reached two clay finals last year, but the king of this surface he is not.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Filip Krajinovic. Filip has only managed to wrestle four total games away in four previous sets played against his countryman.
Simona Halep (1) vs. Dayana Yastremska. Halep has never lost a third round match in Rome. 20-year-old Yastremska is making her debut in the round of 16 of this event.
Defending champion Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Anna Blinkova (Q). The 22-year-old Russian won 48 matches at all levels last year.
Two-time Rome champion Elina Svitolina (4) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time Major champion. Svitolina leads their head-to-head 3-1, though they’ve never met on clay.
Victoria Azarenka (SE) vs. Daria Kasatkina (Q). Azarenka steamrolled Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin yesterday 6-0, 6-0. Kasatkina was a top 10 player just two years ago, but is now ranked 74th in the world after going 13-21 last year.
Italy’s top-ranked player Matteo Berrettini (4) vs. Stefano Travaglia (WC), an Italian veteran who defeated Taylor Fritz and Borna Coric this week.
Italy’s newest star Lorenzo Musetti (Q) vs. Dominik Koepfer (Q). The 18-year-old Musetti has already upset Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori, while Koepfer has defeated Alex de Minaur and Gael Monfils.
Full order of play is here.
Jelena Ostapenko cruises into the second round with a straight-set win over Petra Martic in Ostrava
Former Roland Garros champion and world number 44 Jelena Ostapenko cruised past number 5 seed Petra Martic 6-3 6-1 after 57 minutes to reach the second round at J&T Banka Ostrava Open.
Martic won her previous two head-to-head matches against Ostapenko at Indian Wells in 2018 and in Birmingham in 2019.
Ostapenko has scored her milestone 20th career over a top-20 rival. The Latvian player hit 30 winners to 15 unforced errors.
Martic got an early break in the first game and consolidated it with a hold of serve to take a 2-0 lead. Ostapenko saved two break points and held serve for 1-2 before breaking serve with a forehand passing shot in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. The Latvian player reeled off five consecutive games to open up a 5-2 lead. Martic held serve to claw her way back to 3-5. Ostapenko served out the set at love. Ostapenko hit 20 winners to 10 unforced errors.
Ostapenko got an early break with a forehand crosscourt winner. The 2017 French Open champion went up a double break and hit a series of forehand winners to race out to a 4-0 lead extending her winning streak to five consecutive games. Martic held serve in the fifth game to close the gap to 1-4. Ostapenko held serve easily to build up a 5-1 lead with a crosscourt backhand winner. In the next game Ostapenko earned two match points, as Martic hit the netcord with a dropshot and closed out the match with a forehand down the line.
“I think I played really well well today. I just got used to playing the first couple of games, but then I played really well and I did not give her any chances to play her game, and I made so many winners. I played very smart and also used dropshots and mixed it up a little bit, which helped me, but in the deciding moments I was still aggressive. I knew Martic was going to make a lot of balls in play and I would have to be very focused and very consistent to beat her”, said Ostapenko.
Maria Sakkari reaches her third quarter final of the season in Ostrava
Maria Sakkari got through to her third quarter final of the season after beating Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 at the J&T Banka Open in Ostrava with five breaks and 32 winners.
Sakkari has already reached two quarter finals in 2020 in St. Petersburg and at the Western and Southern Open in New York and scored the fourth win of her career against a top 5 player.
Sakkari went up a 3-0 lead with a double break. Svitolina pulled one of the two breaks back in the fourth game to claw his way back to 1-3. Sakkari converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the first set 6-3.
Svitolina earned her first break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Sakkari battled to deuce four times and converted her third break points in a marathon fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Sakkari earned another brek to open up a 5-3 lead to close out the match after 1 hour and 16 minutes.
“Obviously winning against a player like Elina, the way I played I think that made me happy today. I think playing like me gives me a lot of confidence. Getting another top 5 win is very important for me. When I was starting my career, I had people telling me that I cannot play indoors. I think it was a big mistake listening to them. I have beaten very good indoor players in St. Petersburg and here in Ostrava. I have developed my game in a way that I can now be dangerous indoor sas well. My serve is big, and I am playing a little bit more aggressive. So I am super happy. I have proved these people wrong”, said Sakkari.
Grigor Dimitrov rallies from one set down to beat Pablo Andujar in Antwerp
Grigor Dimitrov came back from one set down to beat Pablo Andujar 4-6 6-3 6-4 at the European Open in Antwerp.
Andujar earned the break in the ninth game to win the first set 6-4. Dimitrov went up an early break in the second game to take the second set 6-3. The Bulgarian player raced out to a 4-1 lead with a double break in the decider. Andujar pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Dimitrov saved four match points in the eighth game to hold serve at deuce and converted his first match point in the 10th game to win the third set 6-4.
Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat this year’s US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta 5-7 6-3 6-4 after 2 hours and 33 minutes Humbert earned an early break in the second game of the opening set to build up a 5-2 lead. Carreno Busta fought back by winning five consecutive games with two breaks in the ninth and eleventh games to win the first set 7-5.
Humbert saved four break points in the fifth game before breaking serve in the eighth game to win the second set sending the match to the third set. Humbert fended off four break points at 2-3 in the third set and broke serve to love to take a 5-4 lead, when Carreno Busta made three consecutive groundstroke errors. Humbert has improved his win-loss record to 18-11 and won the ASB Classic title in Auckland last January. The Frenchman scored the biggest win of his career when he beat Danil Medvedev in the Hamburg quarter final.
Humbert will face either US Taylor Fritz or South African qualifier Lloyd Harris. Fritz dropped six of his first service points in his 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 win over his compatriot Reilly Opelka.
Milos Raonic beat Aljaz Bedene 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in 86 minutes setting up a second round match against Cameron Norrie. Bedene fended off two match points, when he was serving at 5-6 15-40 to force the second set to the tie-break. Raonic rallied from 1-3 down to win the tie-break 7-4. The Canadian player reached the final at the Western and Southern Open in New York and lost to Borna Coric in the semifinal in St. Petersburg.
Daniel Evans saves a match point to beat Karen Khachanov in Antwerp
Alexander Zverev moves one step closer to win his second Cologne title
Maria Sakkari fights from a set and a break down to reach her second semifinal of the season in Ostrava
Jannik Sinner digs deep to beat Gilles Simon in the Cologne quarter finals
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