Having seen his clay-court ATP Masters 1000 runs falter in the quarter-finals in both Monte-Carlo and Madrid, World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas will be satisfied with nothing less than passage to the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia Thursday when he takes on Borna Coric in the feature night match.
Coric, who can make his debut in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings Top 10 should he win the Rome title, is looking for back-to-back semi-final showings after reaching the last four in Madrid less than two weeks ago.
Winless in Rome before this year, Daniil Medvedev will look to continue his roll in the Italian capital when he kicks off Thursday play with a first-time meeting with German Yannick Hanfmann, who has surged 37 places to World No. 64 during the tournament in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.
Here is a look at Thursday’s two intriguing clashes at the Foro Italico.
 Daniil Medvedev vs. [Q] Yannick Hanfmann (GER)
Medvedev’s 0-3 record in Rome coming into the event may have led many to discount him as a title contender, but the 27-year-old has passed three stern tests at the Foro Italico to back up his quarter-final run in Monte-Carlo and fourth-round appearance in Madrid.
Straight-sets triumphs against Emil Ruusuvuori and Alexander Zverev either side of a battling three-set win against clay-court specialist Bernabe Zapata Miralles have further boosted Medvedev’s credentials on a surface that he has not always enjoyed. Now a Tour-leading 36-5 for the season, he will be full of confidence as he prepares for a maiden ATP Head2Head meeting with Hanfmann.
Like Medvedev, however, Hanfmann has not produced a strong run in Italy out of the blue. The 31-year-old has successfully qualified for a Tour-leading six ATP Tour events in 2023. Five of those tournaments were on clay, and he went on to reach the quarter-finals in Santiago in February before a semi-final run in Houston in April.
“I saw a little bit of [Hanfmann’s] match today and I saw his third set against [Marco] Cecchinato. He’s playing well right now,” said Medvedev after he downed Zverev in the fourth round on Tuesday. “I feel like he was already playing well, in Houston and Madrid [for example], just not going into the final or something like this.
“[Here is his] breakthrough, let’s say, already in the quarter-finals from qualies, playing a great level. So I have to be at my best to try to beat him.”
Hanfmann’s powerful forehand was crucial to his wins against Top 10 opponents Taylor Fritz (in the second round) and Andrey Rublev (fourth round) in Rome. Medvedev will likely offer less incoming ball speed to work with than those previous opponents, however. That makes the German’s ability to generate his own power and strike enough winners past defensive master Medvedev key to his chances of springing another upset.
 Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs.  Borna Coric (CRO)
After successfully pulling double duty in Rome, can Tsitsipas maintain his momentum to reach his third semi-final in the Italian capital?
The Greek eliminated two home favourites on Tuesday, when he wrapped up a third-round triumph against Lorenzo Sonego before returning close to midnight to defeat Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round. He will need to bring his best again for his quarter-final against the fifteenth-seeded Coric, who leads 3-2 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series.
Tsitsipas will take confidence from winning his most recent meeting with the Croatian at the United Cup in January. The World No. 5 has rebounded well on the European clay after a modest February and March by his standards, reaching the final in Barcelona and the quarter-finals in Madrid, and he is yet to drop a set as he chases his first ATP Tour title of the year in Rome.
Coric will aim to use his rock-solid baseline game to expose any inconsistencies in Tsitsipas’ ballstriking from the baseline. The 26-year-old, who became an ATP Masters 1000 champion in Cincinnati last year, is now 14-9 for the season after backing up his Madrid semi-final run by reaching the last eight in Rome for the first time.