After a turbulent clay court season full of shocking losses and injuries, Novak Djokovic has steadied the ship in Rome this week with three good wins to reach the last eight. Despite some tense moments against Cameron Norrie, the current world number one played his best match of the clay court swing as he looks to be back in form. Now Djokovic will look to defend his Rome title, earning some much needed momentum and confidence along the way.
However a tough test awaits in the last eight in the form of feisty Dane Holger Rune. The seventh seed has had to overcome mixed crowd reactions as well as dips in form over the last two weeks but the 20 year-old has now regained his form in the Italian capital. Now last year’s Roland Garros quarter-finalist will look to continue the momentum into the quarter-finals in Rome as he seeks to win a second Masters 1000 title of his career after narrowly missing out in Monaco.
This will be a physical match-up with Djokovic looking to continue his dominant form on serve, dictating play with the backhand. Meanwhile Rune will look to be aggressive on return and use his depth to force errors from Djokovic. The Dane will need to open the court up consistently in order to hit simple winners and make life as easy as possible for himself. This should be a good test to see where Djokovic’s injury is at and if he is in a place to be a contender at Roland Garros in a couple of weeks time.
Prediction: Djokovic in three sets.
Iga Swiatek  v Elena Rybakina  H2H & Match Fundamentals
It’s now 14 consecutive wins for world number one Iga Swiatek in Rome as she is into the quarter-finals for a third year in a row. Swiatek’s dominance on clay is staggering and despite failing to win Madrid, the Pole is the firm favourite to once again win Roland Garros. However the top seed will know that complacency isn’t an option and Swiatek will look to keep her insane consistency on clay going as she chases a third title in the Italian capital.
However a big obstacle awaits Swiatek in the form of close rival and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. After a strong start to the year on hard courts, Rybakina had failed to adapt successfully to the clay courts having only won one match from Stuttgart and Madrid. However a big win over former Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova may give her the boost she needs to elevate her clay court form ahead of Roland Garros. Now Rybakina looks to beat Swiatek for the third time this year and reach the semi-finals in Rome.
Swiatek will look to play on the counter-attack and put Rybakina in difficult positions using her agility to produce deep shots, using a lot of angles. Meanwhile Rybakina will look to serve accurately as well as using her forehand to dictate points from the baseline and be aggressive as much as possible. This will be a tough match for the Pole but as long as she can overcome the psychological factor then she should gain an element of revenge and reach the last four in Rome once again.
Prediction: Swiatek in straight sets.
Casper Ruud  v Francisco Cerundolo  H2H & Match Fundamentals
It’s been a torrid season for Casper Ruud who is in desperate search for confidence heading into Roland Garros where he is defending final points. However Ruud may be finding the breakthrough he needs this week in the Italian capital as for only the second time this season, the Norwegian has won three matches in a tournament. The only other time Ruud has done that this season was when he won the title in Estoril and the fourth seed will look to replicate that achievement as he looks for a much needed improvement in form.
Ruud will have revenge on his mind when he takes on Francisco Cerundolo in a rematch from their contest in Barcelona where the Argentinian won in straight sets. The Argentinian is in consistent form and produced another stunning win in Rome when he defeated home favourite Jannik Sinner to reach the last eight. Cerundolo is looking to maintain his high level of tennis from the baseline and on return as he looks to continue to elevate his ranking as Roland Garros approaches.
As much as the return will be the key to success, it’s the serve which is going to be the key battleground with both players lacking consistency with their first serve this season. Ruud will look to be aggressive while Cerundolo will look to use depth to test the Norwegian’s patience as he looks to force errors. This will be a tight match but Cerundolo’s more reliable serve should give him the edge in what is an important match for both in terms of confidence for the rest of the season.
Prediction: Cerundolo in three sets.
Jelena Ostapenko  v Paula Badosa H2H & Match Fundamentals
Former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko is having one of her streaky weeks as she finds herself in the last eight in Rome. The Latvian’s win over Barbora Krejcikova in the third round has sent a statement that when at her best she can beat any player on her day. However those days don’t happen often enough with Ostapenko lacking consistency to challenge for the big titles. Ostapenko is now looking to change that as she looks to win the Rome title.
Standing in Ostapenko’s way is Paula Badosa, who hasn’t had it her own way this season but the Spaniard has now found her confidence with some standout wins. Badosa has beaten the likes of Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur, Marta Kostyuk and Daria Kasatkina over the clay court season so far and is making a good case for why she should be seeded in Paris. Now Badosa is looking to reward her recent good form with a place in the Rome semi-finals.
Badosa will look to dominate through her serve and construct points effectively through her forehand to neutralise Ostapenko’s power. Ostapenko will look to use depth and pace to ensure that Badosa isn’t a factor in this match with the tempo of the match being played on her terms. The tennis balls will suffer the most in this hard-hitting contest with Ostapenko being slight favourite to reach the last four in Rome.
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