Italian Open 2019: The Men's seeds in action on Day 3
The Italian Open, the last Masters level tournament before the showpiece event, the Roland Garros, got off to an exciting start in the first couple of days with 14 three-set matches.
Homegrown players logging in brilliant victories has made the crowd atmosphere just top notch. Arguably the best of the Italian lot, Fabio Fognini breezed through his Round 1 match in straight sets, while the second best, Marco Cecchinato had to battle against de Minaur to get through in three sets.
Rome saw an upset of huge proportions yesterday when Matteo Berrettini beat fourth seed Alexander Zverev in straight sets as well. The rain has interrupted quite a few matches, and one player who staged an upset yesterday after a suspension of play day before will face a formidable opponent (Not before 3:50PM IST).
Jamie Chardy got the better of fellow countryman Gasquet, losing out the 2nd set after a brilliant first set just when rain played spoilsport. That moment helped Chardy as he won the match in the decider. He'll face clay royalty in Rafael Nadal, who hasn't been his usual in his dominant surface.
Nadal has exited in the semifinal on each of his three clay events in the last month, 2 of them to unlikely opponents in Fabio Fognini and Stefanos Tsitsipas, both of whom are also in action today.
There are two points that could be considered - One, Jamie Chardy stands more chance of winning than he's ever had against the Spanish star, in any surface.
Or two, Nadal will come back stronger than before after what has been a disappointing clay season by his standards so far. That probably makes this the headline act. But Roger Federer in action means there's always a confusion as to which one is the headline act.
In only his 2nd clay court tournament in the lead up to Roland Garros he will face Joāo Sousa (2:30PM) who hasn't been in great form but got in a gritty performance to beat Tiafoe in Round 1.
Federer got through to the quarterfinals of Madrid but the long break from clay was evident in his R16 match v Monfils. He eventually lost to Dominic Thiem in three sets. But he will ease in to the clay very soon and it could be in this tournament.
The Italians in action are Fognini against Radu Albot(Not before 5:05PM), and 17-year old Jannik Sinner, who on the back of a three-set victory of USA's Johnson will face the exciting Tsitsipas(Not before 6:20PM).
Marco Cecchinato, the 3rd Italian playing today hasn't had a great clay season, but his stunning victory against Wawrinka in Monte Carlo makes him a player to watch out for. He will face Philipp Kohlschreiber (Not before 7:30PM) who's form has been unimpressive to say the least.
Fognini and Cecchinato are favourites in their contest while the Sinner is the undisputed underdog. Stefanos has reached 2 finals in his last 2 tournaments, the latest in Madrid where he defeated Nadal and lost to Djokovic and one in an ATP 250 event, Estoril. That's why he is the firm favourite today.
Fognini recovered from his defeat to a player ranked outside 100 in Marrakech to clinch the Monte Carlo Masters defeating Nadal in the semis but lost in the round of 16 in Madrid against Thiem, who is in action today as well.
Yes, it's patchy form but facing Albot he'll be the likely winner, however, don't count out the Moldavian pulling off an upset. Dominic Thiem has played three tournaments on clay so far this year, winning the title at Barcelona and beating Federer in Madrid before being defeated in the semi-final by Djokovic, the top seed in action today.
The Austrian will face Fernando Verdasco (Not before 3:45 PM) who took out Khachanov in the Mutua Madrid Open, and is most likely to get through.
Novak Djokovic has just played two events, both Masters 1000, on clay in the lead up to the Italian Open, winning the Madrid Masters last week after losing to Medvedev in the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo.
In what can be an interesting contest he will face Denis Shapovalov (Not before 11:00PM) who has suffered first round exits in all of his three clay court tournaments but he has taken him to 4 sets in the Australian Open and one can expect a fight from the Canadian.
Juan Martin del Potro playing after yet another injury break will face a tough inspection against David Goffin, who took out Wawrinka (Not before 7:40PM).
Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori are the other seeds in action. Cilic will face the hard hitting Jan-Lennard Struff (Not before 5:45PM) who beat Kyrgios in Madrid but lost to the Serbian himself. Nishikori on the back of some inconsistent form will face qualifier Taylor Fritz (Not before 5:00PM).
These are the matches to be played today and select matches will be telecasted on Sony ESPN.