Fixture: Grigor Dimitrov vs Gianluca Mager
Date: 14 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €3,465,045
Match timing: 1 pm CEST (4.30 pm IST)
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Sony Ten 2
Grigor Dimitrov vs Gianluca Mager preview
World No. 20 Grigor Dimitrov will be one of the big names to step out on the Centre Court on Monday for Day 1 action at the 2020 Rome Masters. The Bulgarian, seeded 11th in this year's tournament, hasn't had the best results ever since his return to tennis action following an unfortunate bout with COVID-19.
Dimitrov would be looking to regain his form and generate some momentum ahead of the French Open. However, it will not be an easy outing for the Bulgarian as he has been handed a potentially tricky first round opponent in the form of Italy's Gianluca Mager.
Mager scored his breakthrough result on tour earlier this year. Playing in the Rio Open, the relative greenhorn upset seasoned claycourters Casper Ruud and Dominic Thiem to reach his first ATP tour final.
While he went on to lose to Chile's Cristian Garin in the summit clash, Mager gave enough evidence of his abilities as a claycourt specialist himself.
The Italian's movement on the surface is sublime, but it's his powerful backhand that caught the attention of many in Rio. Mager used that shot particularly well to finish off big points with huge down-the-line winners.
The Italian has a very compact swing on his backhand and makes great use of it in longer rallies to fend off powerful attacks. That, put together with his aforementioned affinity for clay, would likely give Dimitrov a lot to think about.
Grigior Dimitrov vs Gianluca Mager head-to-head
The two men have never crossed paths on tour before, so their current head-to-head stands at 0-0.
Grigor Dimitrov nonetheless enters this contest as a firm favorite based on the huge difference in rankings as well as the difference in experience at the highest level.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Gianluca Mager prediction
This will only be the second time that Mager faces a top 20 opponent, but the young Italian has shown a knack for handling the big stage well. And while Dimitrov does have the edge when it comes to variety, how much of it will help him on the slower clay in the Italian capital remains to be seen.
The rough losses against Marton Fucsovics at both the Cincinnati Masters and US Open will also be weighing heavily on him. Dimitrov will need to take initiative from the get-go and try and keep the rallies short; if he starts to engage in the long energy-sapping rallies, there's a good chance that Mager will eventually wear him down.
Prediction: Grigor Dimitrov to win in two tight sets.