Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem in action in Rome: Day 2 preview | ATP tour


Two of the ATP Tour’s top stars continue their comeback after a lengthy injury at Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Monday, with Stan Wawrinka taking on Reilly Opelka and Dominic Thiem taking on Fabio Fognini in the first round of the ATP Masters 1000 event.

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[14] Reilly Opelka (USA) vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)

If their only previous meeting at tour level goes through, Opelka and Wawrinka could well serve up a Monday classic at Foro Italico. The pair played out a five-set thriller at Wimbledon in 2019, with Opelka winning the fifth set 8-6 on grass.

The American has become something of a dark horse on clay lately, with his surging serve propelling him to a maiden title on red clay in Houston in April. The 14th seed also had a strong run in Rome last year, reaching the semi-finals without dropping a set before falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

He faces a former world No. 3 in Wawrinka who is only playing his second event on the ATP Tour after 13 months out with a foot injury. Wawrinka has already tasted Masters 1000 glory on clay, in Monte Carlo in 2014, and also has a pedigree in the Italian capital, having reached the final in Rome in 2008.

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Dominic Thiem (AUT) against Fabio Fognini (ITA)

Thiem has shown flashes of his best brilliance in his three Tour appearances since returning from a wrist injury, and the Austrian will be hoping for a fuller performance at a tournament where he reached the semi-finals in 2017. Fognini’s 2022 season has been a mixed bag so far, with the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion 11-8 for the year, and he’ll want to bounce back strongly from a straight-set loss to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round in Madrid.

Thiem leads Fognini 3-1 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, but the Italian’s only victory came in Rome in 2018 and Fognini, one of the Tour’s biggest showmen, is used to raising his level in front of his local fans.

[13] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) against Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)

Shapovalov meets local favorite Sonego in a first ATP Head2Head encounter as the Canadian looks to build momentum into his season. The 13th seed helped Team Canada to ATP Cup glory and reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in January, but has gone 6-6 since.

Shapovalov was a semi-finalist in Rome in 2020, but his opponent on Monday tied that run a year later with Sonego upsetting Gael Monfils, Thiem and Andrey Rublev on their way to the last four in 2021. The Italian will look to support at home for inspiration once again when he takes on Shapovalov at Grand Stand Arena.

Also in action

A pair of young wildcards from Italy take on Top 50 opponents on Monday as 20-year-old Giulio Zeppieri takes on Karen Khachanov, with #NextGenATP 19-year-old Flavio Cobolli meeting Jenson Brooksby. Monte Carlo runner-up Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is looking to kick off another deep run at Masters 1000 level when he takes on Ilya Ivashka, while Sebastian Korda faces a tough opponent in Munich runner-up Botic van de Zandschulp. The van de Zandschulp man ousted in the first round in Madrid, 15th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, opens his campaign against Federico Delbonis.

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