Roger and Rafa in same half of draw & potential semi-final clash between “big two”

With Rafael Nadal down to No.3 in the world after his injuries and lean spell, there was always going to be a 50% chance that he would be drawn in the same half as Roger Federer for this year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and this is exactly what has happened.

Defending champion Nadal, who finally got back to winning ways at Monte Carlo last week after a barren spell without a title to his name since Rome last year, is scheduled to face world No.1 Federer in the semi-finals (providing of course that all matches go according to seeding). Last year’s finalist and 2008 champion Novak Djokovic is No.2 seed this year and finds himself in what looks on paper like the slightly easier half of the draw, though with plenty of players having withdrawn through injury, others (Djokovic included) struggling for form and the European clay season barely more than a week old, anything could happen here at the Foro Italico over the coming eight days.

The top eight of the 16 seeds have a bye in the first round but there are already a number of big matches in store for the second round. Nadal will face the winner of Pablo Cuevas and dangerous German Philipp Kohlschreiber, ranked No.28 in the world and a tough nut for anyone to crack so early in the tournament. Federer meanwhile will have to take on whoever emerges victorious from the Marcos Baghdatis – Ernests Gulbis match which is one of the main ties of the first round.

Other interesting match-ups in the first round include Ivan Ljubicic – Paul-Henri Mathieu, Igor Andreev – Juan Monaco, Janko Tipsarevic – Jérémy Chardy (with the winner earning a crack at Djokovic in the next round), and an Italian derby between Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini for the right to take on Andy Murray. With the Scotsman out of sorts at the moment, whichever Italian wins will be confident of claiming a big scalp in front of a partisan crowd.

The potential quarter-final ties based on seeding are as follows:

Federer (1) – Cilic (6)
Nadal (3) – Soderling (5)
Tsonga (7) – Murray (4)
Verdasco (8) – Djokovic (2)

Date: 25.04.2010, Source: Internazionali BNL d'italia


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