The top seeds in the ATP Rome Masters 2020 look on course to making it to the final after both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal registered straight-set wins in their first two matches in the competition. Nadal, however, looks like a bankable favourite to lift the trophy.
While Djokovic was made to stretch a tad in his third round match, he does have an easier draw hereon till the final. Nadal, on the other hand, has barely been on court, taming both his opponents so far with the kind of ease you would expect from a clay-courter of his pedigree.
And despite having a couple of potential toughies in the quarterfinals and semifinals, bookmakers have Nadal pegged as a heavy favourite to win his 10th title in Rome. Even before going into his quarterfinal against Diego Schwartzman, Nadal starts at 1/2 to go the distance at the Italian Open, odds which are whopping short but hardly surprising.
This is despite Schwartzman been a clay court specialist and a possibility of playing Denis Shapovalov or Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinal round.
It doesn’t come as a major shock either. The only worry for Nadal starting out in Rome was he hadn’t played a competitive match in 200 days as compared to most of his other competitors who had been around for exhibition tournaments and the New York hard court swing.
And Nadal’s reassuring presence on the court against Pablo Carreno Busta and Dusan Lajovic dispelled any such potential issues.
Djokovic is a four-time winner at the Italian Open as well, but hasn’t done that since 2015. He has a qualifier lined up against him in his last eight encounter in the form of Dominik Koepfer, and if he wins that, there’s one of Matteo Berrettini or Casper Ruud. He is 2/1 to win the title.
If both these players do make it to the final, it’s worth looking at their records.
Djokovic and Nadal have a rivalry which goes back to 2006 where the Spaniard was leading by two sets in a French Open match and the current world number one retired from it. It’s come a long way with Djokovic now leading 29-26 on head to head.
It’s a tad more one-sided in Nadal’s favour on clay who leads 17-7 against Djokovic on this surface but the biggest change in the Serb’s game has been the vast improvement on red dirt. All seven of Djokovic’s wins have come in their last 15 matches, making it a more interesting rivalry in recent times.
They have met eight times at Rome as well, with Nadal edging ahead 5-3. This includes their last meeting on clay that came last season, Nadal dropping a set but bagelling Djokovic in one of the other sets.
Behind Nadal and Djokovic, the third favourite is Matteo Berrettini who starts off at 25/1 while Denis Shapovalov and Diego Schwartzman are 28/1 to capture their respective maiden Rome Masters title. Grigor Dimitrov (33/1), Casper Ruud (40/1) and Dominik Koepfer (80/1) are the others left in the draw.