The good thing about the Mutua Madrid Open is that Rome immediately follows it meaning there's little time for Roger, or his fan to dwell on his loss to Nishikori earlier in the week.
The semi finals in Madrid haven't even been completed yet and the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 Draw is already out, whoop! Not only that it's a good one as far as Federer is concerned it's a good one.
Federer & Nadal in Separate Halves
The biggest surprise is that Federer and Nadal have been drawn in separate halves of the draw. Something like this is a rarity and as usual I fully expected them to be drawn in the same Quarter but whoever rigged the Rome draw this year obviously is a true tennis fan and kept them apart. This is very good news as it means a potential Djokovic Nadal semi final and Federer Murray on the other.
Federer's Potential Opponents
- 2nd Round: Stepanek / Starace
- 3rd Round: Haas / Simon
- Quarter Finals: Tsonga / Dimitrov / Gasquet
- Semi Finals: Murray
- Finals: Djokovic
Federer's Chance To Redeem Himself
After the disappointing loss in Madrid this draw gives Roger a great chance to redeem himself, he will likely start against Radek Stepanek which is a rematch from Madrid. I see the result being identical, Stepanek wasn't looking at all dangerous and on a slower surface like Rome it should be routine.
I suppose we shouldn't count out Potito Starace as he's playing in front of his homecrowd with a wild card so might rise to the ocassion. He's made the third round in Rome before which isn't a bad effort. Either way Roger owns both these guys in the H2H and has bagelled Starace twice in 6 meetings and has only ever dropped 1 set to the guy, way back in 2004 in Gstaad.
After that it could be a tricky third round against Tommy Haas or Gilles Simon. I'm expecting it to be Tommy Haas who's been playing at a crazily high level for the last couple of months and should be able to see off a pusher like Simon.
It's actually been pretty special watching Haas lately schooling guys from the new generation, just shows that guys like him, Federer and Robredo etc came through in the strongest era of tennis ever and are still capable of producing the goods and seeing off guys who are entering their prime.
Haas will certainly be a test based on the form he's shown of late, he won their last meeting in Halle last year too but I think Roger will be out to prove a point in Rome so should be pretty motivated. He has no Nadal in his draw to play on his mind, so if he does lose early we can rule out the sub conscious lack of motivation I suggested as a reason for his loss in Madrid caused by potentially facing Nadal.
The quarter final is another interesting one and it could be against any one of three players – Tsonga, Dimitrov or Gasquet. I'm going to predict Dimitrov loses early in Rome after his exploits in Madrid. I also don't think clay is a fitting surface for him to have his first meeting with Roger on either so I'd prefer them to be kept apart.
Tsonga is probably the most likely opponent having just lost a tight match to Wawrinka in Madrid so he's match sharp but will be fresh too. Tsonga is actually pretty good on clay to say it's not his favourite surface and he can adapt his game quite well so he's of course a threat.
Gasquet has beaten Federer in Rome before and has made the semi finals that year too but that was a freak type match, perhaps a little like the Nishikori one where it was more about Federer 2.0 than Gasquet's great play.
The semi final is seeded to be against Murray who has so far completely crashed on clay losing early in both Monte Carlo and Madrid. He has a losing record in Rome too so it's likely his poor form could continue. Del Potro is back after a virus ruled him out of Madrid so he might be a factor but he could be lacking match practice / fitness.
Despite what's happened since Australia I'm feeling pretty optimistic about Roger's chances here. The draw is a useful one and even though Roger has been playing poorly it's nothing to do with his abilities. It's all mental with him right now, he was at his best at the Australia Open and since then has just doubted himself on court and not been able to fight or win a match when not at his best.
I'm hoping he can turn it round in Rome, I don't have stupid expectations but I at the very least expect to see him make a solid effort to reach the business end of the tournament.
My prediction: Federer makes the semi final.
My Predictions for Elsewhere in the Draw
- Dimitrov to lose early
- Verdasco to beat Ferrer
- Almagro to beat Del Potro
- Djokovic to bounce back and make the final
What do you guys think of the draw? Let me know in the comments.