Follow the action and all the best matches from the Internazionali BNL d’Italia as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova lead the field – schedules, order of play, featured matches and more.
Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is live from Rome from 10-17 May 2015. Watch & bet on tennis live from Rome at 365
The last major event of the clay-court season before it all comes to a head at Roland Garros, the 2015 Rome Masters takes place 10-17 May at the iconic, Benito Mussolini-built Foro Italico in northern Rome with the best in men’s and women’s tennis in attendance.
Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic are the defending champions, but each face strong competition from fields including Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Simona Halep, Rafael Nadal, Caroline Wozniacki, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori.
Featured matches – Monday 11 May
Angelique Kerber (9) vs Alize Cornet, 2pm local/1pm BST
Grigor Dimitrov (Julian Finney/Getty Images)
- Ninth seed Angelique Kerber had barely won a match all year but when the WTA Tour moved to clay, the former top-10 stalwart emerged as a force to be reckoned with once more as she won titles in Charleston and Stuttgart, beating Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki at the latter. She opens against accomplished clay-courter Alize Cornet, who upset Simona Halep in Madrid last week.
Grigor Dimitrov (10) vs Jerzy Janowicz, 7pm local/6pm BST - With the exception of two wins over equally flailing Stan Wawrinka in Monte Carlo and Madrid, world no. 11 Grigor Dimitrov hasn't been much of a factor in 2015 after a very strong season in 2014 encouraged us to hope he was at last reaching his potential. He has a tough opener against the big-serving but very unpredictable Jerzy Janowicz.
Venus Williams (14) vs Katerina Siniakova (Q), 9pm local/8pm BST - Fourteenth seed Venus Williams, a former champion in Rome, was ousted early at the Mutua Madrid Open by Victoria Azarenka, but she could be in luck at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia: Originally slated to face Garbine Muguruza, she now takes on qualifier Katerina Siniakova, a young talent who made her first WTA Tour semifinal in Prague two weeks ago.
Full order of play – Monday 11 May
Novak Djokovic (1) – Champion at the Rome Masters in 2008, 2011 and 2014, defeating ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal in the finals in the last two of those years, Novak Djokovic enters the 2015 Rome Masters as the undisputed world no. 1 and is in the process of putting together as dominant a season as his legendary 2011. After winning the Australian Open, Djokovic became the first man in history to win the first three Masters events of the season – Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo – and with his sights firmly set on the French Open, the only Grand Slam title which has eluded him so far, he’s unlikely to falter in Rome.
In addition to his three titles, Djokovic has also finished runner-up in Rome twice and has never lost before the quarterfinals. He could face Kei Nishikori in this year’s quarterfinals.
Serena Williams (1)
Serena Williams (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
– World no. 1 Serena Williams may have lost her first match of 2015 at the Mutua Madrid Open, when she was stunned by Petra Kvitova in the semifinals, but that could just make her more dangerous in Rome, where she is going for her third consecutive title.
Williams opens against either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Sam Stosur and could face Sara Errani – who actually came close to beating her on clay in Fed Cup earlier this year – in a rematch of last year’s final in the third round, but the dangerous players in this section are clustered in projected quarterfinal opponent Ana Ivanovic’s part of the draw rather than hers, including Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens.
Roger Federer (2) – It’s a measure of world no. 2 Roger Federer’s confidence in his physical fitness at the age of 33 that the 17-time Grand Slam champion has given himself a heavy clay-court schedule in 2015, playing four events in five weeks in the lead-up to the French Open.
Federer was dubious originally that he would appear in Rome, where he has finished runner-up three times but never won the title. The second seed changed his mind after early exits in Monte Carlo (to Gael Monfils) and Madrid (to Nick Kyrgios). Federer has lost before the quarterfinals in Rome three times in the last four years but his draw is very reasonable with few dangerous opponents in his section of the draw.
Simona Halep (2)
Andy Murray (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
- Second seed Simona Halep’s shock exit at the Mutua Madrid Open, where she reached the final last year but lost in the first round to Alize Cornet, adds pressure to the Romanian’s shoulders ahead of the French Open, where she has to defend last year’s run to the final. Halep should be fine in her opening match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in 2015, opening against either Alison Riske or Varvara Lepchenko for a place in the third round – but might have to contend with Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina or Flavia Pennetta after that.
Andy Murray (3) – Twice a French Open semifinalist, Andy Murray recently picked up his first clay-court title in Munich and reached the semifinals in Madrid, so expecting a deep run from him in Rome for the third consecutive week might be a little much. An early exit for the third seed at the hands of Lukas Rosol – of ‘everybody hates you’ fame – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or David Ferrer in the quarterfinals looks to be on the cards.
Murray has only once made it to the semifinals in Rome, back in 2011 when he lost to Novak Djokovic, but played one of the finest clay-court matches of his career and came very close to edging Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals in 2014.
Maria Sharapova (3)
Maria Sharapova (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
- This quarter is all about the Madrid rematches, with 2011-12 Rome champion Maria Sharapova eager to improve on her semifinal exit at the Mutua Madrid Open and hoping once more to somehow recapture the world no. 2 ranking from Simona Halep.
While Sharapova should be perfectly safe against Jarmila Gajdosova or a qualifier, she could be headed to a third-round clash with Caroline Garcia – who came very close to beating her in Madrid – or perhaps Madison Keys, who has been barely a factor since reaching the Australian Open semifinals (Charleston runner-up finish excluded) but is more than capable of beating her fellow Madison, Brengle, to set up a promising battle with Garcia. Should Sharapova come through, she could meet whoever comes out of a delightfully packed mini-section bracketed by Stuttgart winner and runner-up Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki.
Rafael Nadal (4) – 12 months on from recording his poorest clay-court season in a while, Rafael Nadal’s 2015 European clay season hasn’t started off much better – he lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and was shocked by Fabio Fognini (for the second time in 2015) early at the Barcelona Open.
Nadal, however, has made it back to the final of the Mutua Madrid Open and looks likely to recapture the title, which should boost him heading into Rome. Starting out against Adrian Mannarino or a qualifier, the only potential bump in Nadal’s path to the semifinals is John Isner, who pushed him to three sets in Monte Carlo.
The Internazionali BNL d’Italia begins in Rome on Sunday 10 April and will be available to watch and bet upon online.