ATP Masters 1000Roger FedererRome Masters

Rome Masters Draw 2019: Federer Confirms Participation

Roger returns to the Internazionali BNL d'Italia for the first time since 2016

Roger Federer has just confirmed via his Twitter and Instagram accounts that he'll be making the trip to Italy to play at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia for the first time since 2016. 

The tournament was never part of his official schedule but was always an option and the Swiss had the following to say:

Hello everybody, Just finished speaking to the team and happy to say I’m coming back to Rome to play in Italy. Can’t wait. So exciting. It’s been too long. I’ll see you there. Ciao tutti. Bye Federer on his decision to play Rome

The draw was announced yesterday before Federer's Quarter-Final against Dominic Thiem and he wasn't able to make say yes or no before playing as his decision rested on the outcome in Madrid.

Had he won, then I doubt he'd have played but he obviously feels fresh in the legs and ready to give it a go at the Foro Italico. You can see his projected opponents below.

Federer's Projected Opponents

  • Round 1: Bye
  • Round 2: Joao Sousa
  • Round 3: Borna Coric
  • Quarter Final: Stefanos Tsitsipas / Fabio Fognini
  • Semi Final: Rafael Nadal
  • Final: Novak Djokovic

Full PDF printable draw.

Thoughts on the Draw


First up will either is Joao Sousa after he defeated Frances Tiafoe in a third set tie break. That match was a rematch of the 2018 Estoril final which Sousa won in straights but given the Portuguese hadn't had a great start on the clay courts this season I predicted Tiafoe to come through.

The American had four match points and was 4-1 up in the final set tiebreaker but Sousa hit back and I think he's a tricky matchup for Roger. The Portuguese is a real road runner and will make Fed hit a lot of balls so that could get interesting if he can't put the ball away on this type of court.

Round three immediately gets tougher with Borna Coric as the projected opponent. The Croatian first has to get through Felix Auger Aliassime in the first round which isn't a given. 

After making the quarterfinals and losing a tight match to Fognini in Monte Carlo, Coric's form has dipped a bit losing early in Hungary and Madrid. Couple that with the fact he's never won a match in Rome means it's not unthinkable Felix comes through that one.


For the quarterfinals, Tsitispas and Fognini are the likely candidates and it's hard to see anyone beating them before they face off in the third round.

The Greek beat Zverev in Madrid yesterday to make the Semi-Finals so he's in decent form and Fabio has the Monte Carlo title to his name so can beat anyone if he's in the right mood and not covered from head to toe in kinesiology tape. 

Fognini finally played well on home soil last year in Rome pushing Nadal hard in the quarterfinals so I'd like to see him face off against Roger should they both be able to make the quarterfinals.

Into the semi-finals and it's Nadal who is in Roger's section. Rafa hasn't had a great clay court season yet but with eight Rome titles to his name and a 90% win record on Campo Centrale it's difficult to bet against him making it nine this year even he's yet to contest a final on his beloved clay.

With Nadal in Roger's half, Djokovic is in the other and is the top seed. Like Nadal, he too has a great record in Rome with 4 titles and 4 runner's up trophies. Although his half looks tougher with Del Potro, Zverev, Nishikori, Cilic, Monfils, Medvedev and Cecchinato all in that side of the draw.


So an interesting move from Roger to play here. I was a bit surprised but when I saw his name in the draw it became far likelier he'd be playing and I'm looking forward to seeing if he can match his performance in Madrid.

Rome is far more of a traditional clay court in terms of speed so it will require a bit of a change in approach for Fed and how he plays. More angles and longer rallies will be the order of the day. No ball change as it's still the Dunlop Fort Clay Court in use which does help and he has played well in Rome many times despite never winning it so let's see what he can do 💪

What are your thoughts on the draw? Are you happy with Roger's decision to play Rome? Let me know in the comments.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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    1. PeRFect timing, hah! The 1st comment in 2019 for me.
      Yes, playing means he feels fresh, that’s a great news. Tough draw, sure it’s Masters 1000. A few matches more practice is going to be good, I think. Thanks for the post, Jonathan.

  1. Yaaay!
    Happy he decided to play, but it would have been better if he announced it earlier, I could have gone there to watch him .

  2. Good to see Roger deciding to play. Should give him more match play time before Paris. Hope he makes the SF here and gets another chance against Thiem

  3. Ha, you had this post all ready to go just in case, didn’t you Jonathan?!

    I like the progression of difficulty in this draw, though as always it will be tough to face somebody as a first match in round 2 who’s already had match practice in the conditions in round 1.

    Sounded to me like Fed really wanted to get input from the team before announcing final decision – had they seen something he hadn’t? And based on the Insta stamp it looks like he’s already actually in Italy.

    One match at a time, as always!

    1. No time to prep, just saw the tweet and quickly wrote it!

      Yeah I saw the Italy location, but you can just put any location when you upload something. Maybe he got a flight this morning but quite a quick turnaround if so.

      1. “Rafa hasn’t had a great clay court season yet but I expect him to win Madrid”
        This line shows it was done even before Nadal had lost in Semi!

  4. #1 Mirka wanted to go shopping.
    #2 Rome is one of Fed’s favorite cities.
    #3 He is pissed he lost having match points and is hungry for more.
    #4 Great for us fans just when our nails had a chance to grow a little before RG.

      1. Hahaha…
        I try not be fuzz about winning/losing in clay as Jonathan reminds us, but I just can’t.
        still recovering from match against Gael and Domi, and now have to be ready for Rome.

        I will spread chilli paste on my finger to stop the habit

  5. New here – great blog!

    You can play only so many practice sets; you also gotta get the game time in. It’s a smart move for someone who’s been gone from the surface. He’ll probably do as well in Rome as he did in Madrid, plus he can get some more information on upcoming opponents.

    1. True, looks like he wants matches rather than practice sets. Would be back in SUI for 2 weeks before Paris otherwise just hitting at Felsberg.

  6. Now… the Rome participation comes as a surprise! Shaking off that disappointing tiebreack?
    Clearly he’s enjoying clay and is keeping healthy, so : Go Roger!!

  7. Finally a chance to win that elusive Roma title. His quarter is not particularly brutal and Rafa might not even make it to the semis after exhausting clay court season. Also Djokovic is no guarantee to make it to the final. Roger’s chances are huge here.

    1. Indeed. He should give his best in Rome. Better than whatever the hell he will produce in Paris. I just can’t accept the fact that Roger Federer, one of the Top 10 in clay all-time, has not won Rome while Alex Fucking Zverev has.

      1. Not saying Zverev fluked his way to a Masters title. Just saying it’s hard to think how a great clay-courter hasn’t won the more prestigious clay court title (mainly because of Nadal). Would Zverev win a clay court masters circa 2005-2011 if he was born earlier? We’re not sure. Probably not.

      2. I disagree here. His victory there was a fluke indeed. He only beated serve bots like Isner and Raonic, and Djokovic who wasn’t himself that year.

      3. But if you start viewing M1000 wins like that, there’s probably a few of Feds that could be hauled over the coals too. All in all, an M1000 title is a good accomplishment.

  8. Yes,I think this this draw is far kinder to Fed than the brutal one in Madrid.
    A Fognini Fed quarter final would be great!
    He will hopefully pick up more points and match play.

  9. Jon,

    Thanks for the quick update. You are really quick on the draw! It is truly amazing how the majority of the Spaniards and the sports commentators adore Roger and the way he plays. Most of them were rooting for him yesterday and were sorry that he did not win. When you think that Roger has, more or less, always been Rafa’s opponent and by the way, they are really, good friends and always compliment each other on their games, just goes to show the “fairplay” attitude of the Spaniards and their appreciation of the maestro’s excellent talent. I wish him all the very best in Rome and hope that he comes out on top. Keep up the good work Jon!

    1. I guess it’s like Fed said, they have seen him play in Spain a lot and followed him closely due to his rivalry with Nadal. But that’s no different globally, everywhere he goes he’s got 90% of the crowd… so Spanish has nothing to do with it.

    2. How do you know about crowd’s participants, if they don’t wear RF caps? Spaniards are the best and more objective crowd worldwide. No “monohisteria” about Roger and even Rafa.
      Well, you see, what you want to see 😉

  10. Tsitsipas is playing Nadal very tough, and given Djokovic’s super solid win over Thiem, I don’t think Fed would’ve beaten him had he come through against Thiem. Either Nadal or Tsitsipas in the final would’ve been a grueling task, probably insurmountable. A tough loss to an in-form Thiem on clay is arguably better than a routine beating by Djokovic.

    Good news about Rome. A win is impossible here, but it’s great to see him try to capture one of the two jewels missing from the crown.

      1. If he played like he did against Thiem in the first set, he would have beaten him but only in two sets.

  11. Madrid wasn’t bad for his first clay tournament in three years. Given that, it’s incredible that he was one point away from straight-setting a player of Thiem’s caliber.

    IMO playing in Rome was a good decision. Rallies in Madrid were short, probably he’s not too tired especially since he had a long break beforehand. And I think he needs some more seasoning before Paris. Winning a match where his opponent held match points, then losing a match where he held match points, says that he doesn’t quite have the confidence in his ground game that he is looking for.

    I think he can go deep, and maybe win it all. In either case, I think he will get some much needed practice. C’mon Roger!

      1. Jonathan, the old adage is wrong. It does not begin with “When in Rome…” but with “Win in Rome…” 😉

  12. So Stefanos vs Novak it is.
    I hereby claim the scepter of being the first dude in this forum to call your attention to a certain Greek fellow, almost 2 years ago. Tremendous clutch play against Nadal.
    Back to what’s really important: at this point I think Roger has the game and the physical condition to reach the SF at least. I hope the spirit is there as well. The first match will be against Tiafoe. Sousa is a continuously boiling cauldron of emotivity and is on a negative groove from which it will take him months to emerge from.

    1. Well done for picking the Greek God.
      What a match!
      Nadals aura of the King of clay slipping now.Still no title this year.What a shame😱

    2. Yeah, I was very impressed with Tsitsipas, his backhand was great. Moves forward too. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in no time at all.

      1. Did see the statistics at the end? Both players came to the net a total of almost 50 times. It’s a bit unheard of but not unexpected on a hard clay. And let’s not forget that Nadal plays very well at the net, although yesterday he made a few strange volley errors. Maybe that was the key and also a few ground strokes that landed a bit wide.
        It was a nice match to watch.

      2. Didn’t see the match stats. I saw some of the first set and saw he was having success coming forward. The second set he came in less and lost it…

  13. I didn’t really care much who won Nadal Vs Tsitsipas but there is one thing that’s always been a little bit of a bugbear of mine, Nadal actually won 6 more points overall. I know it happens because it’s done by sets not points but I find it bizarrely annoying how a player wins with less points. 😆. Oh well, I guess what goes round comes round

      1. It allows a player to reset his game in case a set goes badly. It’s like in a football league. A team can score more and suffer less goals than all the others and still finish second (or worse).

    1. You can also have presidents and political parties winning elections with a minority of votes. It’s inevitable when a system is not purely proportional, as in uninominal electoral circles. Unlike in tennis, the outcome is frequently bad…
      You pick the system that best suits the interested part.

      1. “uninominal electoral circles”

        First past the post will do 😆

        That’s what is in the UK, should definitely be proportional representation. But like you say FPP suits the interested parties.

      2. In my country, whoever wins by one vote wins the election. I think is fair.
        US democracy is a joke.

  14. Great that Roger is playing in Rome, will just be so good to
    see him again. Sorry that DT lost, he just didn’t play at the
    same level as he had against Fed. And Nadal losing,, well
    he’s not quite the warrior as in previous years but I wish I could
    like Tsi, for some reason the young Greek annoys me, I recognise
    he has it all going for him but his swaying from side to side
    waiting to return serve , I’m looking for faults!

    1. I’m not sold on Tsitsipas as a character but game wise he’s extremely good. One of the only young guys willing to move forward. His topspin backhand is far better than Federer’s too for example in terms of what he can do with it on a higher bouncing court. Stood firm against Nadal’s forehand.

      1. Yes nearly all the young gen guys seem to be taller and
        lankier, no problem for reach.

    2. Virtually all players have their calming down rituals, some discrete, some more bizarre. Unlike in most other sports, there is no running away from playing all the points nor letting the time pass waiting for the whistle, not even a team to hold onto or to blame. It’s a tremendous psychological load and that’s why I tend to excuse the funky behaviours, within reasonable time limits and if it does not upset the opponent. Plus it gives insight about each player’s personality and that’s just one of the many interesting aspects of this sport.

  15. Yes,’stood firm’ just about sums it up.He simply refuses to be bullied.Some great shot making and so clutch on the big
    Definitely reminds me of Borg,the way he runs forward,not much emotion-the hair!
    I don’t think he will beat the Djoker today,late match.a lot of tennis,two gruelling three setters.
    But definitely a star of the not too distant future.

  16. As the years go by, I become ever more impressed by Roger. It’s quite extraordinary how he can find motivation, wants to challenge himself and still has (relatively speaking) long-term plans. (I’m thinking here about his announcement to play Madrid 2020 and his remarks to use the clay season to build up strength for future events.) So Roger is also very inspiring in non-tennis aspects! And of course I have to mention one of my favorite themes, the “Top 40 at 40” idea. He’s playing at least the next season why not — barring severe health mishaps — take it all the way to ’21?

  17. Just an off topic question to John 😁did you ever watch Indian Premier League – the cash rich T20 competition 😃😃😃
    Today is the final for this season. Asking you since you are from the country where cricket originated 🙂
    Now coming to the draw, if he reach SF it should be a great result. Not much expectations though

    1. I used to watch it and follow it all the time. I played cricket for many years so I used to be more of a cricket fan than a tennis fan actually. My local league had VVS Laxman for a season, Mohammed Kaif and JP Yadav too. Although the latter was a bit of a fringe ODI player, but pretty good domestically.

      This year however I haven’t seen a single ball being bowled or followed it all. Other than Warner having a good start I don’t know any results, run scorers or wicket takers. Didn’t know it was the final either.

      Not sure why I haven’t followed it as much, I was in Europe last month where it gets no coverage which is partly why but I have kind of lost interest in IPL. Prefer Test matches.

  18. So the Joker has won Madrid and seems to be back on form. I thought Roger played well for his comeback. His play in the first set was out of this world to me or maybe Thiem just played badly. To lose to Thiem after having had a match point is frustrating but it could have gone both ways and I agree with some comments that Fed probably would not have made it to the final or a win here. On to Rome and wishing him only the best. It won’t be easy but if he could get in two or three matches it will be good and you never know what happens to the other players in their rounds …

  19. So the Djoker wins Madrid. I pretty well saw no press about him at all. It was all about Fed returning to clay and Nadal being the king. An ignored #1. Poor guy. More counselling from the guru is in order.

  20. The scheduling in Madrid seems crazy.
    Whoever plays that late semi is very seriously disadvantaged going forward.
    Titsy didn’t get to bed until 4am this morning.Consequently obviously exhausted,resulting in a lack lustre final.
    Still,he will be back.
    For now all roads lead to Rome.

  21. @Jonathan
    You call it “interesting move”? First show me the draw and then I decide, if I play?

    I would call it bad sportsmanship.
    Well, let’s this aside.

    I don’t see Nadal winning a title on clay this year. He started the season late and without much success. I have seen him in Monte Carlo, where he looked ill and old. I think, it’s something deeper with him. Maybe another bad year, including clay.

    So I see rather Thiem reaching the SF (if he is still in shape from Barcelona-Madrid. To avoid third loss to Thiem this year, Fed needs to lose the QF (to Fognini or Tsitsipas (this was a joke of course but I think, on the slower Rome court – similar to Paris) Roger’s chances are not so good as in Madrid.

    Still a good idea to play 1-2 matches (or more) on a curt similar to Paris. Thiem will probably hold ranking 4. until Paris, so Fed cannot meet him in Paris before SF, but I doubt Fed comes so deep in 5-setters on a slow court.

    But this may help him with his physical strength and endurance for Wimbledon. Let’s see as a kind of preparation for Wimbledon, not for winning titels on clay.

    1. Never write off Nadal for the French Open title. He certainly means to get a 12th, even if not this year.

      1. I don’t care about what he means. I only see, how his form look like so far and how do potential contenders (Djokovic, Thiem, Tsitsipas). And I’m not writing him off, but he will not have an easy way,

  22. Surprised but excited, clearly he feels fresh which is a good sign.
    Fairly good draw I think, hoping for QF at least again

    Novak looking ominous tbh

    1. Yes indeed.However he had an easy run through including a walkover.Then benefitted in the semi
      and final from opponents who had been tested to the limit by playing the two other members of the
      big three.Perhaps Rome will show us where his game is really at.

      1. Novak usually does well in Rome.
        One of his favourite venues.
        Last couple of years he reached the semis not playing his best tennis.

    1. Do you understand Roger’s greatness like he is hunting after a moment, when Rafa is down to beat him for his records, big ego calling or what?
      I think and hope, Roger would like to beat Rafa, when he is at his best, which is maybe not possible.
      Nadal is here in comfortable position – he defeated Federer in Wimbledon, when Federer was in his prime.
      But if they care about such things, they are not really great.

      1. I mean – it’s probably impossible for Rafa to be again at his best and if it is – it’s not possible for Roger to beat him on clay.

      2. Oh dear, of course he wants to make him bite the dust, you don’t know these guys if you think otherwise. Especially Federer.
        Nadal did the same to him when he was playing like shit, so I say it would be justice.

  23. So Federer vs. Sousa Round 1. Sousa was 1-4 in the final set breaker but hit back to win. I think he’s a trickier matchup than Tiafoe for Federer, makes a lot of balls. Ultimate grinder.

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