2019 Rome Masters Quarter Finals: Novak Djokovic vs Juan Martin del Potro, Preview and Prediction
The two have met each other nineteen times before this, and the head to head result is stacked in favor of the Serbian. Djokovic has won fifteen of those matches and has won their last four matches.
More importantly, the two have met three times on clay and the Argentine has been able to take only one set off Djokovic, at the 2011 French Open. Their other two matches have come exactly at the same stage in this tournament, in 2009 and 2017. Both those matches were pretty one-sided where del Potro failed to challenge Novak.
Will things be any different this time? It seems unlikely. Because after a string of unexpectedly poor performances after the Australian Open triumph, Djokovic has roared back to form on clay. He won the Madrid Masters and looked in top form in the first two matches at Rome.
His first match against Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov was expected to be a tricky one, but the experience and class of Djokovic shone through the match which he pocketed in quick time, in straight sets. He had an even more commanding performance in his second match of the day, against Philipp Kohlschreiber. He broke his opponents’ serve six times in total, without himself being broken even once.
Del Potro, on the other hand, is making a return to competitive tennis after a familiar long injury lay-off. His first tournament after the break was at Madrid Masters, where he lost in the first match itself to Laslo Dere.
But at Madrid, he has looked good so far. Both his matches, against David Goffin and Casper Ruud, were pretty straightforward straight set encounters. He broke his opponents seven times, though he lost his serve once each in those matches. But what must have been especially encouraging for him are two things: his high first serve to win percentage and his fitness level that saw him get two back to back wins against quality opponents on the same day.
However, del Potro is running into an inform Djokovic and it is unlikely he will be able to mount a significant challenge this time too. Their third encounter at the quarter-final stage at Rome Masters is most likely to follow the same script as before: a facile win for the Serb.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in Straight Sets