Rome Open: 5 things you need to know
Join Tennishead as we give you the lowdown on the Rome Open, one of the biggest professional clay court tennis tournaments in the world and find out why it’s so special.
1. When and Where
The Rome Masters, also known as the Italian Open and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, is scheduled to commence from the 2nd to the 15th May, with the tournament usually at the start of May. However because of Covid-19 in 2020 it took place in September.
It is the fourth oldest ATP Masters 1000 event after the Canadian Open (1881), Monte-Carlo Masters (1897) and the Cincinnati Masters (1899).
After 80 years of being separate events, the men and women’s tournaments were eventually combined in 2011. Although the women’s tournament is a WTA 1000 event, it is non-mandatory but in this year’s event it is expected to be a stacked field with all of the top 20 female players confirmed to be on the entry list.
The tournament is held in the Foro Italico sports complex, which was built in 1928. The tennis centre has 11 clay courts, eight of which are used for tournaments and three for training.
It now has three show courts, with the new center court the Campo Centrale being opened in 2010, holding up to 10,400 spectators. The other two main courts are named Supertennis Arena and Stadio Pietrangeli.
2. Lack of Italian Success
Throughout the entire history of the tournament, the home crowd have had very little to cheer in terms of home-grown successes and title winners.
Former French Open Champion Adriano Panatta was the last Italian to win the men’s tournament all the way back in 1976 whilst Raffaella Reggi was the last Italian woman to win the event in 1985.
Former top five player Sara Errani, did finish runner-up to Serena Williams in 2014, with last year also seeing one of the best Italian success stories in the men’s tournament as Lorenzo Sonego became the first Italian man to reach a semifinal in Rome since Filippo Volandri in 2007.
Now and new era of Italian success may be on the horizion thanks to quality stars like Jannik Sinner, Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Sonego all aiming to get their hands on the Italian Open trophy.
3. Roger Federer’s empty trophy cabinet
With 103 ATP titles to the Grand Slam legend’s name – you would have expected him to have won it all. However one of the few trophies which alludes the Swiss maestro is the Rome Masters title.
Despite having won the Madrid Open title three times, Roland Garros once and being a fantastic clay court player himself, he has always come up short at the Foro Italico. He has reached the final on four different occasions with his first final appearance in Rome coming in 2003 when he lost to Spaniard Felix Mantilla.
His other three final losses came against the other two of the ‘Big three’ with two losses against Rafael Nadal and one against Novak Djokovic.
4. Rafael Nadal and Chris Evert dominance
As previously mentioned, Rafael Nadal’s title win in 2021 was his tenth Rome Open title, making it the fourth time that Nadal had won a tournament on 10 or more occasions – the only man to complete this feat. To put this into context he has won the title 10 times in the last 17 years, including three times in a row from 2005 to 2007.
Similarly, Grand Slam legend Chris Evert holds the record for the most amount of WTA titles at the Rome Masters. The American has won the title a record 5 times, including a hat-trick of titles from 1980-1982.
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