Stan Wawrinka begins his sixteenth consecutive season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome on Tuesday, when he meets a local 17 years his junior, Lorenzo Musetti. In a showdown between the oldest and youngest players on the pitch, the former world number 3 looks to build on his winning return on clay in Prague last month.
In his first outing since March and his first at the ATP Challenger Tour level in more than a decade, the Swiss won five games – including four consecutive three-set clashes – to win the title in the Czech capital. His best run at the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome came in 2008, when he was second to Novak Djokovic.
Italian Musetti was just three years old when Wawrinka made his Rome debut against Tomas Berdych in 2005. The 18-year-old world number 249 won three qualifying rounds to take home the main draw of the Masters 1000 at home this week.
He will meet Wawrinka for the first time in his second tour-level match. If he were to beat the Swiss, he would be the first player born in 2002 to win the ATP Tour.
Another ex n. 3 of the world, Milos Raonic, makes his return to Roma after reaching the semifinals in 2014. The 13th-seeded Canadian reached the final of the Western & Southern Open in Flushing Meadows leading to the US Open (l. A Djokovic) .
You may also like: Dimitrov Surges In Rome; Cilic fights in the second round
On Tuesday he will face French Adrian Mannarino. Raonic leads the pair’s 2-1 ATP Head2Head series, but the last fight took place nearly two years ago in Tokyo.
On Tuesday, the US Open’s three quarter-finals will go from hard to clay with Russian seed no. 9 Andrey Rublev, the Canadian seed No. 12 Denis Shapovalov and Australian Alex de Minaur all in the first round. After his second Grand Slam quarter-final appearance in Flushing Meadows, 22-year-old Rublev makes his Rome debut against his first opponent, Argentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis.
Rublev won two ATP Tour titles in early 2020 (Doha and Adelaide) and took home 15 straight victories in the fourth round of the Australian Open before falling to Alexander Zverev. He arrives in Rome at number 12 on the FedEx ATP Ranking thanks to his run at the US Open.
After his first Grand Slam quarter-final in New York, Shapovalov faces Argentine world number 37 Guido Pella in their first ATP Head2Head match. All three of 21-year-old Shapovalov’s quarter-finals in 2020 took place on hard-court or indoor courts, while fellow left-handed fellow Pella’s only quarter-finals came on clay in Buenos Aires.
As the youngest Australian since Lleyton Hewitt to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open, De Minaur aims to bring his momentum to the Foro Italico, where he aims to win a game for the first time. The 21-year-old meets German qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the two’s first ATP Head2Head clash.
Fresh from becoming the fourth ATP Tour champion for the first time on Sunday in Kitzbuhel, Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic brings his clay court form to Rome. The 21-year-old faces Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka for the first time.