Stefanos Tsitsipas led Portugal’s Nuno Borges 6-3, 4-3 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome on Saturday before rain suspended play for the day.
The fifth-seeded Greek was in control throughout the first 65 minutes, hitting 15 winners and not facing a break point in the heavy conditions. Tsitsipas will return on Sunday leading by a break advantage in the second set.
Tsitsipas holds fond memories in Rome, having advanced to the championship match at the clay-court event in 2022. Aiming to go one step further this week and clinch his maiden title of the season, the 24-year-old could next play Lorenzo Sonego after the Italian defeated Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5, 6-3.
Tsitsipas has often produced his best tennis on clay, winning four of his nine tour-level titles on the surface. He won both his ATP Masters 1000 crowns on clay in Monte-Carlo in 2021 and 2022.
Earlier this season, the Greek advanced to his second Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, before he reached the championship match at the ATP 500 event in Barcelona. Tsitsipas is currently fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin but could jump to third if he wins the Rome title.
Borges earned his maiden ATP Masters 1000 win against Dusan Lajovic in the first round. The Portuguese, currently No. 74 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, has won two ATP Challenger Tour titles this year.
Due to rain, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev did not take to court on Saturday. Medvedev will face Emil Ruusuvuori on Sunday, with Zverev taking on David Goffin.
Just two doubles matches were contested on Saturday in Rome, with rain postponing the other four matches on the schedule. Sixth seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara defeated Nathaniel Lammons and John Peers 7-6(2), 2-6, 10-6, with the British-Finnish duo saving all four break points against them before a clutch performance in the Match Tie-break.
Seventh seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Eden also advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 7-6(6) win against Italians Federico Arnaboldi and Gianmarco Ferrari. The Indian-Australian team was three of four on their break chances in the win.