After thrilling ATP Masters 1000 events on clay at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the Mutua Madrid Open, the ATP Tour heads to Rome for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with another 1,000 ATP Rankings points up for grabs for the titlist.
ATPTour.com looks at five first-round matches to watch:
For the first time since the 2016 BNP Paribas Open, Stan Wawrinka and David Goffin will meet on the ATP Tour. The 34-year-old Wawrinka leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-1, but the pair will be facing each other for the first time on clay at the fifth ATP Masters 1000 event of the season.
The Swiss will be aiming to build on his run to the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals with a strong showing in Rome, where he reached the championship match in 2008 (l. to Djokovic). Wawrinka owns a 22-13 record at the clay-court Masters 1000 tournament.
Goffin will be hoping to get back to winning ways after a first-round loss to Marton Fucsovics in Madrid. The Belgian, who has reached the quarter-finals in three of his past four visits to Rome, advanced to his second semi-final of the year at the Millennium Estoril Open (l. to Tsitsipas) earlier this month.
Brace yourselves. Two of the most imaginative players on the ATP Tour are set to go head-to-head in the first round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
World No. 14 Daniil Medvedev and Acapulco titlist Nick Kyrgios will face off at the Foro Italico for the first time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, in a match which promises to entertain the crowds at the start of an exciting week in the Italian capital. Medvedev and Kyrgios will both enter the first-round match with cause for optimism, having each lifted silverware already in 2019.
Medvedev captured his fourth ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open in February (d. Fucsovics) and has also advanced to championship matches in Brisbane (l. to Nishikori) and Barcelona (l. to Thiem). The Russian owns 25 victories from 34 tour-level matches this season.
Kyrgios clinched his fifth tour-level trophy at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in March. The Australian defeated Rafael Nadal, Wawrinka, John Isner and Alexander Zverev en route to the title.
A meeting between two of the most exciting young talents on the ATP Tour. Borna Coric and Felix Auger-Aliassime both have a bright future ahead of them, but only one will make it past the first hurdle at the Foro Italico.
Both men have enjoyed impressive starts at Masters 1000 level this year, which was highlighted by their quarter-final clash at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March. In their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter, it was the #NextGenATP Canadian who progressed to the final four. But Coric will be encouraged by his reaction to that loss, another Masters 1000 quarter-final run at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Fognini).
Auger-Aliassime has also proven his credentials on the clay this year. The 18-year-old reached his first ATP Tour final on the surface at the Rio Open presented by Claro in February and has only been beaten by Top 10 opposition in his three previous European clay swing appearances this year.
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There aren’t many first-round matches that will excite fans around the grounds more than this encounter. Fabio Fognini and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will contest the sixth chapter of this FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, which has seen both players push each other to the limits.
Tsonga may lead their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 4-1, but Fognini enters the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in the form of his career after capturing his maiden Masters 1000 crown at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Lajovic) last month. The Italian will be able to rely on the passionate support of his home crowd, which provided Fognini with great energy en route to victories over then-No. 1 Andy Murray in 2017 and Dominic Thiem last year.
Fognini will be confident of securing his second straight win over the Frenchman, who he defeated for the first time in their most recent meeting at the 2017 BNP Paribas Open. Tsonga will be making his first appearance at an ATP Tour event since the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, when he retired from his first-round match against Taylor Fritz with a back injury.
Last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Alex de Minaur will face a tough opening-round test against 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato. The Sydney International winner, who has struggled with injuries since reaching the Acapulco quarter-finals (l. to Zverev) in February, enters the match searching for form after an opening-round loss to fellow 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz at the Mutua Madrid Open.
In their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at the All England Club last year, the #NextGenATP Australian defeated Cecchinato in four sets to reach the second round. But the prospect of defeating the Italian on his favourite surface, in front of a lively Italian crowd, is a very different challenge.
Cecchinato has already clinched a clay-court title this year. The Palermo native did not drop a set en route to the Argentina Open trophy (d. Schwartzman) in February and also reached the BMW Open by FWU semi-finals (l. to Garin) earlier this month.