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Rome Masters: Rafael Nadal vs Dusan Lajovic preview, head-to-head & prediction | Italian Open 2020

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
ANALYST
Modified 17 Sep 2020, 22:59 IST
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Match details

Fixture: Rafael Nadal vs Dusan Lajovic

Date: 18 September 2020

Tournament: Italian Open 2020

Round: Third round (Round of 16)

Venue: Rome, Italy

Category: ATP Masters 1000

Surface: Red clay

Prize money: €3,465,045

Match timing: 7 pm CEST, 10.30 pm IST

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Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Sony Six

Rafael Nadal vs Dusan Lajovic preview

Rafael Nadal looked like a man on a mission when he breezed past Pablo Carreno Busta in his opening match at the 2020 Rome Masters. Now, the King of Clay will face Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic in the third round on Friday.

Being away from tennis for six-odd months can have an impact on any player, but not Rafael Nadal. Barring a few minor hiccups in the first two games, the Mallorcan absolutely annihilated Carreno Busta in what was a claycourt masterclass.

Dusan Lajovic, on the other hand, has conjured up some of his best tennis to knock out Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Milos Raonic. This is the Serb’s best run at the Italian Open, and he’ll be incredibly pleased with his performance so far regardless of the result against Rafael Nadal.

Dusan Lajovic
Dusan Lajovic

Several fans and experts believed that Rafael Nadal would face problems against Carreno Busta in the opening round due to his long absence from competitive tennis. But those worries were unfounded as the Spaniard’s non-stop practice on clay over the last few months seems to have paid dividends.

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While Nadal wasn’t exactly at his peak, he was operating at a level good enough to blow his compatriot away. The nine-time Rome champion found great success on his serve and forehand, both of which left Carreno Busta utterly bamboozled. On his way to a 6-1, 6-1 victory Nadal dropped a mere eight points on serve, reminding everyone of his potency on clay.

Needless to say, Dusan Lajovic will be in for an unbelievably tough test tomorrow. The Serb, however, can take solace from the fact that he dealt well with Raonic’s serve on Thursday; he could ask a few questions of Nadal's delivery too.

Rafael Nadal vs Dusan Lajovic head-to-head

Rafael Nadal leads Dusan Lajovic by 2-0 in the h2h.
Rafael Nadal leads Dusan Lajovic by 2-0 in the h2h.

Rafael Nadal leads Dusan Lajovic 2-0 in the head-to-head. The Mallorcan has never dropped a set against Lajovic, and was also the winner of their only encounter on clay - in 2014 at Roland Garros.

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Rafael Nadal vs Dusan Lajovic prediction

Defeating Rafael Nadal on clay is a virtually impossible task if the Spaniard is fully fit. And the task is a thousand times tougher if he is motivated and hungry the way he is right now.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal has his sights firmly set on winning a record 13th French Open title, which will help him equal Roger Federer’s record Slam tally. As such, he will be extremely keen to make the best use of the ongoing Rome Masters and get himself ready.

Dusan Lajovic may present a tougher challenge than Carreno Busta, but is highly unlikely to make a dent in the King of Clay's armor.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.

Published 17 Sep 2020, 22:03 IST
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