Date: 16 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €3,465,045
Match timing: 12:30 pm CEST, 4:00 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Sony Six
Novak Djokovic vs Salvatore Caruso preview
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic begins his clay-court campaign against Salvatore Caruso in the second round of the 2020 Italian Open on Wednesday.
The Serb comes into this tournament fresh off his shocking disqualification from the US Open. Djokovic has admitted to the incident playing on his mind lately, but will look to register some impressive performances at Rome to help him get over the mishap.
Djokovic’s opponent, Italy’s Salvatore Caruso, overcame the challenge of Tennys Sandgren from a set down in the first round. Caruso spent almost three hours on court to outlast the big-hitting American, with a terrific display of counter-punching tennis.
Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, will likely have more than Rome in his mind. The Serb must be hurting at not being able to win the US Open, where he was the overwhelming favorite for the title. He would be desperate to prepare himself in the best way possible and launch a serious assault on the French Open, which begins later this month.
Caruso will provide a decent enough workout for the 17-time Grand Slam champion. The Italian has a pretty impressive range of shots and is comfortable off both wings; he also prefers plying his trade on clay.
That said, he will be playing the man who has made nine finals at this event, winning four of them. Djokovic was the runner-up at this event in 2019, and will be looking to at least match that effort if not better it this year.
Novak Djokovic vs Salvatore Caruso head-to-head
Novak Djokovic leads Salvatore Caruso by a margin of 1-0 in the head-to-head. The duo played each other at the French Open last year, with the Serb emerging victorious in three easy sets (6-3, 6-3, 6-2).
Novak Djokovic vs Salvatore Caruso prediction
Novak Djokovic is by far the most in-form player on tour right now. If not for his default at the US Open, the Serb would in all probability have had a spotless W-L record coming into Rome.
Needless to say, Salvatore Caruso will have his hands full in this match. The Italian will have to fight exceptionally hard for each point, and take even the smallest of openings that comes his way.
Caruso could take a leaf of the book of Pablo Carreno Busta or Roberto Bautista Agut, who have recently given Djokovic some trouble with their solid games. One of the very few ways to counter the Serb's strengths is to play a measured game with controlled aggression, and at the same time not hit too many short returns.
The Italian tends to hit deep off both wings, and has a decent topspin forehand as well. But his serve could be a weak spot, and we can expect Djokovic to attack it with gusto.
Carruso will need to start well, but even if he does he is unlikely to stretch Djokovic too much.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets.Published 16 Sep 2020, 02:01 IST