Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic from successfully defending his Internazionali BNL d’Italia title?

Holger Rune will take his shot at defeating the top seed on Wednesday in Rome in one of two quarter-finals taking place at the Foro Italico. Casper Ruud meet Francisco Cerundolo in the day’s other singles clash. previews the first two Rome quarter-finals.


[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [7] Holger Rune (DEN)

Reigning champion Djokovic’s quest in Rome for a record-extending 39th ATP Masters 1000 title has been mostly smooth so far. However, he will face his toughest challenge yet when he plays Rune in the quarter-finals.

The 20-year-old Dane stunned the top seed to clinch his maiden Masters 1000 title in their previous meeting in Paris last year and will look to cause the Serbian problems once again in Rome with his powerful game.

“It will be a great experience,” Rune said when asked about playing Djokovic. “The match in Paris was the biggest win of my career. Tomorrow you can’t expect anything other than a top match, so I have to be ready and do everything I can.

“The win in Paris gave me belief. I believe I can beat many players on the Tour. Winning against Novak helped me a lot because he is one of the greatest of all time. It is going to be tough, but I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

Djokovic, who has a chance to return to first in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin if he wins his seventh Rome title, arrived in the Italian capital off the back of disappointing early exits on clay in Monte-Carlo and Banja Luka. He has looked close to his best this week, though, defeating Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Grigor Dimitrov (in three sets) and Cameron Norrie.

Locked at 1-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Rune, fans will expect fireworks when they face off on centre court on Wednesday. Rune, who lifted the title in Munich last month, is seeking his second Masters 1000 semi-final. On the other side of the net, Djokovic is chasing his 14th last four appearance in Rome.


[4] Casper Ruud (NOR) vs. [24] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG)

Ruud arrived in Rome off the back of a third-round exit in Monte-Carlo and an opening-round defeat in Madrid. However, in the Italian capital the Norwegian’s level has looked closer to the form with which he won 10 ATP Tour titles, including nine on clay. He has dropped one set en route to the quarter-finals.

Seeking a third consecutive semi-final in Rome, Ruud will next meet Argentine Cerundolo, who upset World No. 8 Jannik Sinner to earn his fifth Top 10 win. Competing in his third Masters 1000 quarter-final, Cerundolo will aim to bring his dynamic, all-court game to his match against Ruud.

The 24-year-old Ruud will be set on gaining revenge, having lost against Cerundolo in Barcelona last month. The Argentine leads the Norwegian 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.

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