Unpicking the draw at the Italian Open: who wins each quarter?
A sixth Italian Open final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could be on the horizon, with the nine-time champion on the opposite side of the draw to the World No 1.
However, top 10 stars including in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev will be keen to book their own places in the Masters 1000 final after an impressive European clay swing.
First quarter-final prediction: Novak Djokovic (1) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (5)
Top seed and reigning champion Novak Djokovic faces a tough start to his Italian Open campaign as he awaits the winner of Taylor Fritz and Dan Evans.
Should the Serb prevail as expected, he will likely face Grigor Dimitrov who has been gifted a generous draw to face two qualifiers in the opening two rounds.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the likely opponent for the five-time champion in the quarter-finals, with the Greek facing Alexander Bublik or Marin Cilic in his opener before a potential clash with Matteo Berrettini in the round of 16.
Predicted quarter winner: Novak Djokovic
Second quarter-final prediction: Dominic Thiem (4) vs Andrey Rublev (7)
Dominic Thiem, who made an encouraging return to action at the Madrid Open, will face a tough opener in Rome against either Guido Pella or Marton Fucsovics.
If the Austrian prevails, he will likely face Australian youngster Alex de Minaur for the second time in the space of a week, after beating the 22-year-old 7-6(7) 6-4 in the Madrid round of 16.
In the quarter-finals, Andrey Rublev is expected to await the reigning US Open champion, though may have to overcome Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round.
Predicted quarter winner: Dominic Thiem
Third quarter-final prediction: Aslan Karatsev vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
The third quarter is extremely difficult to call. In terms of seedings, you would expect third seed Daniil Medvedev to meet World No 9 Diego Schwartzman at the quarter-final stage.
However, Medvedev has continued to stutter on the surface, whilst Schwartzman has failed to replicate his 2020 form on his favourite surface.
Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev could meet Daniil Medvedev in the second round before a possible clash with home favourite Lorenzo Musetti in the round of 16.
Auger-Aliassime has struggled to find form on the clay, though admittedly has been handed tough draws in the form of Cristian Garin and Casper Ruud in two of the three tournaments.
Should the Canadian beat Filip Krajinovic in the first-round, he will face last year’s Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman before a possible clash with David Goffin for a place in the quarter-finals.
Predicted quarter winner: Aslan Karatsev
Fourth quarter-final prediction: Alexander Zverev (6) vs Rafael Nadal (2)
Predicted quarter winner: Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal will be sick of the sight of Alexander Zverev after losing his last three matches to the German straight sets. However, it looks very likely that the pair will meet once again in the Italian capital.
Nadal could face a tough opener against Jannik Sinner before a potential round of 16 clash against the in-form Casper Ruud, who has reached three consecutive Masters 1000 finals on the clay surface.
Zverev on the other hand has a much easier route to the Italian Open quarter-finals, facing either Adrian Mannarino or a qualifier in his opener before a possible clash with Pablo Carreno Busta.
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