After facing Novak Djokovic early in Monte Carlo, Sinner will have another chance to battle one of the “Big Three” on clay in the Round of 32. This time, he will face Rafael Nadal on the Roman clay. Sinner has only played in this tournament once before, while Nadal will be vying for a tenth title here. The pair has played once before at the 2020 French open, where Nadal snuffed out an early challenge from the young Italian to win in straight sets. A lot of fans are wondering whether Nadal will have as easy of a time with the youngster seven months later...
Two giants have reached the final in Madrid, but their routes to the final are as different as possible. The Italian faced compatriot Fabio Fognini in the first round and Argentinian Delbonis in the second, beating both in straight sets. His first seeded opponent was Cristian Garin, who gave him a tough time in the first set and the beginning of the second before Berrettini reeled off 11 games in the row to reduce the contest to a one-sided affair. Berrettini then met Ruud in the semis, a tough youngster on his career high who beat Tsitsipas earlier in the tournament. Berrettini’s red-hot serve + forehand carried him through to a comfortable win, where he faced no break points.
On paper, Zverev’s draw was a lot more difficult. His first opponent was veteran Kei Nishikori, who took a 6-2 set off of Nadal in Barcelona. However, he demolished the Japanese and set the tone for the rest of the tournament from there. He recorded another straight sets win against the gritty Dan Evans to set a match with the God of Clay, Rafael Nadal. The German snatched back 2 breaks and the lead from the Spaniard in the first set, and Nadal had no answers to Zverev’s game after that point. Zverev then faced down Dominic Thiem in what proved to be arguably his most complete performance of the match, which concluded in another straight sets victory.
With two gargantuans playing at the top of their level, this match will likely come down to who can stick to their patterns the longest, and who’s mental game is the strongest.