Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Two of Italy’s Best Face Tsitsipas and Tiafoe - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Two of Italy’s Best Face Tsitsipas and Tiafoe

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A late afternoon shot from Sunday in Rome (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

Third round ATP singles action concludes on Monday, while all WTA round of 16 matches will be staged.

Monday provides a stellar Order of Play, with great matches all around the grounds of Foro Italico.  But the matches the Italians will be the most passionate about feature the top two men in the world named Lorenzo.  Frances Tiafoe will face Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti on what will surely be a packed Grand Stand Arena, while Stefanos Tsitsipas and Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti start off the night session on Center Court.

Other matches on Monday feature top names like two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek, Barcelona and Madrid champ Carlos Alcaraz, 2021 US Open champ Daniil Medvedev, and 2022 Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s two most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Lorenzo Musetti (18) vs. Frances Tiafoe (12) – Fourth on Grand Stand Arena

Tiafoe is 21-7 on the year, and won a clay court title last month in Houston, only the second singles title of his career.  He overcome Daniel Altmaier in a second round match that was played across Saturday and Sunday due to rain, which was his first career win in Rome after three previous first round defeats.

Musetti is only 12-11 this season, though he’s now 6-3 on European clay since last month, which includes a semifinal run in Barcelona.  He eliminated fellow Italian Matteo Arnaldi in straight sets on Sunday.  The 21-year-old is now 4-2 lifetime in his country’s capital city.

They have split four previous contests at all levels.  They went 1-1 against each other at clay court Challenger tournaments in 2020, and also are 1-1 at hard court ATP events.  Most recently they met in the finals of the inaugural ATP Cup, though an injured Musetti retired after losing the first set.  But in front of what will be a vocal Italian crowd at Foro Italico’s second biggest court, I like Lorenzo’s chances to defeat the 12th seed on Monday.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Lorenzo Sonego – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

Tsitsipas is now 22-7 in 2023, and 10-3 on clay, after beating Nuno Borges in straight sets in the second round.  Stefanos is 10-5 in Rome, having reached the semifinals in 2019, and the final just last year. 

Sonego is 12-12 this year, and 4-3 on clay.  He defeated both Jeremy Chardy and Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets to reach this third round matchup.  His best-ever performance at a Masters 1000 tournament occurred at this very event two years ago, when Lorenzo advanced to the semifinals thanks to upsets over Monfils, Thiem, and Rublev to the thrill of the Italian crowds.

Tsitsipas is 2-0 against Sonego, with both matches taking place on hard courts in 2021.  On Monday night in Rome, a third consecutive victory will be the likely result.  But if Lorenzo can keep the match close, and keep the crowd heavily invested, an upset would not be shocking.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Fabian Marozsan (Q) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (2) – Alcaraz comfortably dispatched of Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Saturday.  Marozsan is a 23-year-old Hungarian ranked 135th in the world who won a Challenger event on clay in March, and outlasted Jiri Lehecka in a third-set tiebreak in the last round. 

Andrey Rublev (6) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (27) – Both men won their opening matches in straight sets.  Rublev is 2-0 against Davidovich Fokina, though both matches were tight, with a final-set tiebreak deciding matters a few months ago in Dubai.

Marketa Vondrousova vs. Elena Rybakina (7) – Rybakina only needed to play seven games on Sunday before Anna Kalinskaya was forced to retire.  Vondrousova has already defeated Kanepi, Andreescu, and Sakkari this fortnight, and was a semifinalist in Rome three years ago.  Marketa defeated Elena in straight sets in their only prior encounter.

Bernabe Zapata Miralles (31) vs. Daniil Medvedev (3) – Medvedev earned the first Rome victory of his career on Sunday over Emil Russuvuori.  Zapata Miralles is 14-7 on clay this season, and just two weeks ago won his first matches at Masters 1000 level when he advanced to the round of 16 in Madrid.

Jelena Ostapenko (20) vs. Daria Kasatkina (8) – Kasatkina escaped on Sunday in a third-set tiebreak against Julia Grabher, while Ostapenko took out fellow Roland Garros champ Barbora Krejcikova in straights.  Ostapenko leads their tour-level head-to-head 3-2, though Kasatkina claimed their only meeting on clay.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Donna Vekic (21) – Swiatek has lost only two of 26 games played through two matches in Rome, and is on a 12-match win streak at this event.  Vekic took out 16th-seeded Liudmila Samsonova in the last round.  Iga is 3-0 against Donna.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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Matteo Berrettini Looks To Draw Inspiration From Jannik Sinner

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner ahead of his comeback to the ATP tour.

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(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner as Berrettini is continuing his recovery from his injury.

The former Wimbledon finalist has had a horrible run of injuries which has seen the Italian fall down the rankings as he is now at 124 in the world.

After suffering a horrible injury at the US Open during his match with Arthur Rinderknech, Berrettini was looking to make his return at the Australian Open as he was set to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round.

However just before the match, Berrettini withdrew as he decided to delay his comeback to the tour as he will aim to return to the court as soon as possible.

If Berrettini needed any inspiration then Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open could be that much needed spark as the Italian beat Novak Djokovic on his way to capturing a first Grand Slam title.

Speaking an interview Berrettini explained that he is still not 100% and admits he is looking to draw inspiration from Sinner’s form, “I’m better, but I’m not yet 100%,” Berrettini was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

“The goal is to play the whole season, and without these setbacks which are destroying my body and my head. Sinner did a miracle. I will also use this energy for my tennis. I was happy with what Jannik said.

“We have a good relationship, which has strengthened in recent months. We are different but similar. We are pursuing the same dream.”

Berrettini will hope Sinner’s success will have a positive influence on his recovery and quicken his return to the tour as the former world number six aims for a successful return to the tour.

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