Novak Djokovic will face a tough opening test in his return to action at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he is a six-time champion.
The top seed will begin the season’s final clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event against #NextGenATP Frenchman Luca Van Assche or in-form Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry. In his most recent tournament, Djokovic was pushed to three sets by 18-year-old Van Assche, who is the only teen in the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The Serbian needed two hours and 39 minutes to battle through that match.
If Etcheverry is Djokovic’s opponent, the 23-year-old will carry confidence from reaching his first two ATP Tour finals earlier this year. Both of those runs came on clay, in Santiago and Houston. Grigor Dimitrov, the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion, or former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka could be waiting for Djokovic in the third round.
Here is the official @atptour men’s singles main draw
Make your predictions down here👇🏻#IBI23 pic.twitter.com/1kOxnmUbUJ
— Internazionali BNL d’Italia (@InteBNLdItalia) May 8, 2023
There is plenty of Masters 1000 experience in Djokovic’s quarter of the draw, where 2021 Indian Wells titlist Cameron Norrie and 2022 Paris champion Holger Rune will look to make their mark. Seventh seed Rune, a potential quarter-final foe for Djokovic, defeated the Serbian in the final of last year’s Rolex Paris Masters.
Elisabetta Cocciaretto, Maria Sakkari, Lorenzo Musetti and Andrey Rublev attend the men’s singles draw. Photo: FOTO ARCHIVIO FITP
In the other half of the draw, second seed Carlos Alcaraz will try to maintain his momentum from back-to-back titles in Barcelona and Madrid.
The 20-year-old Spaniard will open his tournament against home favourite Francesco Passaro or Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Alcaraz’s first ATP Tour win came against Ramos-Vinolas in 2020 at the Rio Open presented by Claro in a memorable match that lasted three hours and 37 minutes.
The first seeded opponent Alcaraz could play is big-hitting 32nd seed Jiri Lehecka. His Madrid semi-final opponent, Borna Coric, could be waiting in the fourth round.
Also in Alcaraz’s quarter is 2022 Rome finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas. The fifth seed will begin his tournament against Banja Luka champion Dusan Lajovic or Portugal’s Nuno Borges.
In the same half of the draw, third seed Daniil Medvedev will try to make his best clay-court Masters 1000 run yet. Already a four-time champion this year, Medvedev will hope for a good start against last week’s Cagliari ATP Challenger Tour 175 champion Ugo Humbert or Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori.
The top home hope in the field is eighth seed Jannik Sinner, who is fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. The Italian star, who last year made the quarter-finals at the Foro Italico, will play Spaniard Jaume Munar or a qualifier in the second round.
Sinner is joined in his quarter by fourth seed Casper Ruud. The Norwegian, who is pursuing his maiden Masters 1000 triumph, will open against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech or a qualifier.
One of the first-round matches to watch will be between former World No. 1 Andy Murray and home favourite Fabio Fognini. They have split their eight previous ATP Head2Head clashes and last met in 2019 in Shanghai, where Fognini emerged victorious after a final-set tie-break.