The opening Sunday at the 2023 Internazionali BNL d’Italia sees all players in the top half of the draw at the ATP Masters 1000 event battling for a spot in the fourth round, as well as the conclusion of second-round action after rain suspended play on Saturday night.
Defending champion and top seed Novak Djokovic takes on Grigor Dimitrov for the 12th time at Tour level, while home hope Jannik Sinner meets Alexander Shevchenko. The local fans will also cheer on Fabio Fognini as the Italian seeks a third-round upset against seventh seed Holger Rune.
Among the remaining second-round matches, Stefanos Tsitsipas will look to see home his set-and-a-break lead against Nuno Borges, while Daniil Medvedev meets Emil Ruusuvuori and Alexander Zverev faces David Goffin.
ATPTour.com previews some of the standout matches on the Day 5 schedule in Rome.
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs.  Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
Djokovic may hold a 10-1 ATP Head2Head series lead against Dimitrov, but the pair is 1-1 on clay. Both those meetings came way back in 2013, when Dimitrov triumphed in Madrid before Djokovic gained his revenge at Roland Garros.
The Serbian has won four of his six Rome titles since that last clay-court clash with Dimitrov, and the top seed will hope to stay on track for a record-extending 39th ATP Masters 1000 crown by downing the former World No. 3 at the Foro Italico. Despite some early struggles in his second-round match against Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Djokovic pulled through to improve to 65-10 at an event where he has never failed to reach the quarter-finals in 16 previous appearances.
In a match against an opponent with no recognisable weakness to target, Dimitrov’s ability to acquire free points on his serve will be key to his chances. The 31-year-old won 35 of 40 first-serve points in his opening match against Stan Wawrinka, and Dimitrov is relishing the chance to take on Djokovic as he chases his second Top 10 win of the year.
“I like those matches,” Dimitrov said. “I’ve been on Tour for so long, I feel comfortable to play against these guys. I know I don’t have the best record against him, but I like to play against him and any of the top guys to see where I’m at. You never know how it’s going to go at the end of the day. I always like my chances, so you never know how it’s going to go.”
 Jannik Sinner (ITA) vs. [LL] Alexander Shevchenko
The 21-year-old Sinner could hardly have made a better start to his bid to become the first Italian man to triumph in Rome since Adriano Panatta in 1976. The eighth seed breezed through a potentially difficult opener against Thanasi Kokkinakis to maintain his red-hot ATP Masters 1000 form.
The Miami finalist Sinner is now 13-3 at Masters 1000 level for the season and will hope home support can also help power him past Shevchenko on Sunday. The Italian’s consistency this year, when he has reached at least the quarter-finals in all seven ATP Tour events he has played, has propelled him to fifth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
Sinner will be wary of the threat Shevchenko poses, however. The 22-year-old lucky loser has risen to a career-high No. 93 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings off the back of a 17-6 record at ATP Challenger Tour level and a run to the third round on Masters 1000 main-draw debut in Madrid, where he pushed Daniil Medvedev to three sets.
With both players most comfortable striking big from the baseline, the outcome of the pair’s maiden ATP Head2Head clash may depend on whether Sinner can replicate his free-hitting display against Kokkinakis. If he does, the home favourite will be a hard man to stop.
 Holger Rune (DEN) vs. [WC] Fabio Fognini (ITA)
A popcorn clash between one of ATP Tour’s young stars and a charasmatic home veteran promises an intriguing spectacle for fans at the Foro Italico.
The seventh-seeded Rune made an impressive Rome debut on Friday, when he eased past his #NextGenATP rival Arthur Fils in straight sets. However, the vastly experienced Fognini, who will be backed by his adoring home crowd, will provide a stern test of the 20-year-old Dane’s ability to handle one of the most vibrant atmospheres on Tour at the Foro Italico.
Rune will hope for a repeat of his straight-sets win in the pair’s only previous tour-level meeting in Montreal last year. Fognini, a 2018 quarter-finalist in Rome and a natural entertainer, will hope some more moments of magic can help him add to his opening victories against former World No. 1 Andy Murray and 30th seed Miomir Kecmanovic.
Match of the Day Sunday @InteBNLdItalia @fabiofogna vs @holgerrune2003
Rune leads the Head 2 Head 1-0 with a win in Montreal in 2022 (6-3 7-5)
We’ve taken a look back at the #Insights from that match 👀📊 …#TennisInsights | @atptour pic.twitter.com/Qkzzl4xpZF
— Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) May 13, 2023
 Daniil Medvedev vs. Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)
Ruusuvuori nearly knocked out Carlos Alcaraz in his previous tournament, leading the Spaniard by a set as he put on a power tennis clinic in Madrid. While he fell just short on that occasion, he will have another opportunity for a big upset in Rome against Medvedev.
Just like in Madrid, the Finn advanced to the second round by beating Ugo Humbert, this time in a third-set tie-break. But that’s where the similarities may end.
The matchup against Medvedev is very different from the one against Alcaraz, who was at home on the red clay of Spain. Medvedev has never made a secret of his struggles on the dirt, though he compiled a 4-2 record across Monte-Carlo and Madrid as he continues to work on his clay-court game.
Medvedev said that he feels great physically entering Rome, and he explained some of his efforts to adapt to the clay in recent weeks.
“[Playing with] some more spin,” Medvedev said in his pre-tournament press conference. “Especially the sliding, I think the sliding was always a problem [for me]. After Madrid, after I lost, a couple days I practised there, I tried to focus on the sliding, on the movement. I felt like I improved in these couple of days.”
Also In Action…
Fourth seed Casper Ruud and 13th seed Cameron Norrie hope to back up strong opening performances in their third-round matches against Alexander Bublik and Marton Fucsovics, respectively. Francisco Cerundolo is the other seed in action, as the Argentine takes on the in-form Frenchman Gregoire Barrere.
A quartet of players who upset seeded opponents in the second round also look to extend their stay in Rome, although only two will remain in the draw after Sunday’s play. Alexei Popyrin, who beat Felix Auger-Aliassime for his third Top 10 win of the year on Friday, plays fellow qualifier Roman Safiullin, while Cristian Garin takes on Laslo Djere.