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Bautista Agut Up And Running In Rome

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

Bautista Agut Up And Running In Rome

Basilashvili also through to second round

Roberto Bautista Agut extended his unbeaten FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Andreas Seppi to three matches on Sunday, defeating the Italian 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Aiming to advance beyond the third round in Rome for the first time this year, the World No. 21 broke Seppi’s serve on five occasions to reach the second round after one hour and 44 minutes. Bautista Agut will meet Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-finalist Lorenzo Sonego or 11th seed Karen Khachanov for a spot in the third round.

You May Also Like: Facts & Figures: 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia

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Nikoloz Basilashvili will face Mikhail Kukushkin or Laslo Djere in the second round, following his first victory against Marton Fucsovics in three FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes. The 14th seed, who fell to the top-ranked Hungarian earlier this year in Rotterdam and Monte-Carlo, defeated Fucsovics 6-1, 7-6(2) in one hour and 39 minutes.

Italian wild card Jannik Sinner recovered from a slow start to upset Steve Johnson 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 on Campo Centrale. The 17-year-old, who competes as the youngest player in the main draw, converted four of seven break points en route to victory.

Philipp Kohlschreiber levelled his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Gilles Simon at 5-5, defeating the Frenchman 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Hungarian Open champion Matteo Berrettini also advanced, winning 88 per cent of first-serve points (30/34) to beat 2016 semi-finalist Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-4.

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Djokovic: 'I Wasn't Playing My Best'

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

Djokovic: ‘I Wasn’t Playing My Best’

Serbian happy with return to form

Novak Djokovic has won many titles in his career; 74, to be exact. But the timing of his triumph at the Mutua Madrid Open was more important than the victory in itself.

“I feel like this tournament win was very important for my level of confidence because after Australian Open I wasn’t playing my best, I wasn’t finding the right game and the consistency on the court in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo,” Djokovic said. “I felt like I was close and needed a little bit of a push, so to say.”

When the World No. 1 arrived in the Spanish capital, he had made just one quarter-final since the Australian Open. The Serbian’s dip in form was surprising considering before then, he had advanced to at least the semi-finals at nine of his previous 10 tournaments, including three Grand Slam titles and two ATP Masters 1000 triumphs.

So although there was no panic after Djokovic’s performances at Indian Wells (R32), Miami (R16) and Monte-Carlo (QF), he wanted to get back on track. He leaves Madrid after tying Rafael Nadal’s record with his 33rd Masters 1000 title.

“A very important win came yesterday against Thiem [in the semi-finals] in a very close match. And today Stefanos, who had an amazing match and win last night against Rafa, [it] probably affected him a little bit. He did not, I think, move as well as he did last night and he was probably a bit tired,” Djokovic said. “But my goal was to start off well to try to break as soon as possible, which was the case right away, and I felt I was always ahead in the game. I felt I was dictating the play and played my best tennis so far this week.”

Tsitsipas beat two Top 5 players this week in reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev and five-time winner Nadal. But he was blown away by one thing in particular from Djokovic’s side of the court.

“He has the best backhand on Tour I have ever seen in a human being. He controls it so well. He can play cross, he can play down the line the same way and that’s very difficult to deal with,” Tsitsipas said. “Usually some players have a good stroke, but it’s not that consistent. So I find if he’s in a day where his serve works pretty well, the placement of his serve, his forehand is not his biggest weapon. He can hit it but it’s not his biggest weapon. But he can, if the backhand and the serve work really well, that is why he has been dominating for so many years.”

“I want to thank him for the nice compliment. I actually thought my forehand was working very well today. I could hit it from any corner. Backhand was very solid, of course,” Djokovic said. “I was just dictating the play. I didn’t really give him too much time to set himself up for a ball or try to come into the net. I tried to play fast. I tried to play deep. I tried to change the pace and direction of the ball and it has worked well.”

Everything clicked in the tournament for Djokovic, who has now left the Caja Magica with the trophy three times. The manner in which Djokovic triumphed — he did not lose a set at this event — gives him plenty of momentum as he tries to stand alone by winning a record 34th Masters 1000 trophy at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

“It’s a great honour to have this trophy and to win in one of the biggest tournaments in the world,” Djokovic said. “[It’s] at the very important time for me in the year, in the season, because this gives me a lot of confidence prior to Rome and, of course, Roland Garros where I definitely want to play my best.”

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Madrid Open: Novak Djokovic beats Stefanos Tsitsipas to win third title

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

World number one Novak Djokovic beat a tired-looking Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the Madrid Open for a third time.

The Serbian, 31, beat Rafael Nadal’s semi-final conqueror 6-3 6-4 in one hour 32 minutes to earn a record-equalling 33rd Masters 1000 title.

Djokovic raced into a 3-0 lead in the opening set after breaking the 20-year-old Greek in the second game.

And he broke in the ninth game of the second set to ensure he didn’t drop a set all tournament.

Djokovic’s 74th Tour title came after having made just one quarter-final in three tournaments since lifting the trophy at the Australian Open for a seventh time.

“This is a very important win for me, especially for my confidence,” Djokovic told Sky Sports. “I wasn’t playing my best tennis after the Australian Open so I was looking to regain momentum. I played some of my best tennis here.”

On his opponent, he added: “I needed to step up, Stefanos is very talented. He beat Rafa yesterday, he had a late night and he wasn’t as dynamic in his movement and that was probably due to his long match.”

Tsitsipas, who beat Roger Federer at the Australian Open, has had a superb season and in addition to his win over Nadal, had won the previous match against Djokovic at the Rogers Cup in Toronto last August.

But he struggled to match the 15-time Grand Slam champion, who had superior energy after overcoming Austrian Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals.

Tsitsipas, who saved three match points, said of Djokovic: “It’s inspiring what you do, simply amazing. You deserve it.

“You had a great week. It was also a great one for me, with good memories and good crowd support.”

Djokovic, who matched Nadal’s record for Masters 1000 triumphs, will hold all four Grand Slam titles if he goes on to claim a second French Open title next month.

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Djokovic Beats Tsitsipas For Madrid Title, Tying Nadal's Masters 1000 Record

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

Djokovic Beats Tsitsipas For Madrid Title, Tying Nadal’s Masters 1000 Record

World No. 1 now has 33 trophies at the elite level

In just one week, Novak Djokovic has gone from searching for form to making history.

The World No. 1 defeated #NextGenATP Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday to win the Mutua Madrid Open, equalling Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 ATP Masters 1000 titles. It is also Djokovic’s 200th victory against a Top 10 opponent (200-90).

Djokovic arrived in the Caja Magica having made just one quarter-final in three tournaments since lifting the trophy at the Australian Open. But the Serbian found his top level for a third triumph in Madrid, having also emerged victorious in 2011 and 2016. The 31-year-old has never lost a championship match in the Spanish capital (3-0) and he now owns 74 tour-level trophies (74-33).

 Player  Titles
 T1. Rafael Nadal   33
 T1. Novak Djokovic  33
 3. Roger Federer  28

Djokovic put immediate pressure on the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, earning two break points in Tsitsipas’ first service game. Although the eighth seed staved off the Serbian’s first opportunity with an inside-out forehand winner, Tsitsipas missed an inside-in forehand approach shot long to give the top seed the early break.

That set the tone for the match, and Djokovic never cracked in his one-hour, 30-minute victory. He did not face a break point in the match to earn €1,202,520 and 1,000 ATP Ranking points.

Tsitsipas made a concerted effort early on to use his drop shot against the World No. 1, doing his best to keep the top seed off balance. But Djokovic was locked in from the baseline, neutralising the Greek’s serve to immediately get himself to neutral in rallies, even when returning.

Djokovic earned two break chances to take an early lead in the second set, but he uncharacteristically missed a forehand return long and then sailed a backhand long mid-rally on his second chance. While Tsitsipas did well to hold serve his next few service games, Djokovic found his best when it mattered most.

At 4-4, 15/30 in the second set, Djokovic threw a lob high into the Madrid sky, somehow landing it near the baseline, before hitting a Tsitsipas overhead for a backhand winner to give him two more break points. This time the top seed did not make a mistake, using a Tsitsipas error to break before serving out the match, finishing it off with a forehand approach shot for a winner.

Tsitsipas, who defeated Nadal in the semi-finals, had won the pair’s only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting last year in Toronto en route to his first Masters 1000 final. He was trying to become the ninth first-time winner at this level over the past 18 Masters 1000 tournaments.

Despite the loss, Tsitsipas leads the ATP Tour in wins this year with 27, and he will climb to a career-high World No. 7 on Monday. The three-time ATP Tour titlist leaves Spain with 600 points and €608,700 in prize money.

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Britain's Evans and Norrie qualify for Italian Open

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

Britain’s Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie both recorded victories to qualify for the Italian Open main draw.

Evans, ranked 81st in the world, overcame top seed and Monte Carlo Masters finalist Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 7-5 6-3.

British number two Norrie saved two match points to beat Chile’s Nicolas Jarry 6-3 4-6 7-6 (8-6).

They join British number one Kyle Edmund – who plays Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the first round – in Rome.

Evans’ victory over Lajovic was a career-best on clay, with Lajovic ranked 57 places above him.

The 28-year-old beat Dutch tenth seed Robin Haase 6-2 6-4 in the first round of qualifying, while 45th-ranked Norrie, 23, beat Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 5-7 7-5 6-3.

World number one Novak Djokovic, defending champion Rafael Nadal and 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer are all in the Rome draw.

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What Will Make Del Potro Happy In Rome

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

What Will Make Del Potro Happy In Rome

Argentine fell in three sets last week to Djere during clay-court opener

Juan Martin del Potro has won 22 ATP Tour titles, including his first ATP Masters 1000 title last year at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

But the 30-year-old Argentine doesn’t have his hopes pinned on winning his second Masters 1000 title and fifth clay-court crown this week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

Del Potro, still on the comeback after fracturing his right kneecap in October, is merely eager for more matches.

To be honest, I’m not looking for a good result of the tournament. I just want to feel good on court, and that will be my best moment of this tournament. Doesn’t matter if I win right now because I’m starting to play again,” Del Potro said on Sunday during his pre-tournament press conference.

If I play good, if I play another match and I close the match in good shape, it will be great for me.”

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Del Potro played in only his second tournament of the year last week at the Mutua Madrid Open, the season’s second clay-court Masters 1000 event. The Argentine fell to Rio Open presented by Claro champion Laslo Djere of Serbia in three sets in his opener.

His draw doesn’t get any easier in the Italian capital. Del Potro, the seventh seed, will face the winner of former No. 7 David Goffin and former No. 3 Stan Wawrinka.

View Draw | Read Draw Preview: Nadal Could Face Thiem In Rome QF Blockbuster

“I have a tough draw. So I’m supposed to play with Stan or Goffin in the first round, which is a really difficult match,” Del Potro said with a smirk.

I’m feeling good. My game is improving after couple of days of hard training. That’s what I need to get back in my high level as soon as possible. Rome will be another good test to see how my body feels on court and playing in the match.”

You May Also Like: Nadal After Madrid Loss: ‘This Is More Normal Than The Past 14 Years’

Although his rehab has taken longer than he thought – Del Potro made his season debut in February at the Delray Beach Open by – he is optimistic about his continued improvement.

The only thing that all the players want to do is just play tennis. I wasn’t available to do that,” Del Potro said.

I was really sad trying to fix the knee problem. It took a little bit longer than the doctor said. But now I’m having the chance to play another tournament. I’m feeling little bit better than Madrid… I’m ready to try once again.”

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Nadal After Madrid Loss: This Is More Normal Than The Past 14 Years

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

Nadal After Madrid Loss: This Is More Normal Than The Past 14 Years

World No. 2 is still seeking his first trophy of 2019

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal is used to tallying titles rather than losses on clay. But to the Spaniard, leaving the Mutua Madrid Open after a semi-final loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas is normal, even if he has yet to lift a trophy this season, the longest it has taken him to triumph in a season since 2004.

“I think that it’s more normal what is happening right now, than what happened in the past 14 years,” Nadal said. “I think I have tennis ahead of me. I have time ahead of me. I’ll be able to try to win this kind of tournament that I was not able to win this year. And what I have to do is to be fit and to play properly and a high tennis level.

“If I manage to do that next year, I think I will still have a very good opportunity to fight for all of these titles and for the rest of the year, I still have two [clay-court] tournaments. And we will see what happens there.”

It’s not that Nadal has not played well. The 32-year-old has made the semi-finals or better at five of his six tournaments this year, and he owns a 20-5 record on the season. But especially on clay, Nadal has set a precedent of domination, earning multiple clay-court titles every year since 2005.

“Tennis is about winning or losing. I have been able to win a lot for a lot of years on this surface. And this year, it seems that’s not the way and I am really close to it, but not managing to win,” Nadal said. “You just have to accept it and I have to accept it naturally. But to accept things does not mean to try to change things.

“But during all my life, I think I have taken the victories very naturally and with a lot of normality. With the losses I’ll do the same. It will be normal and I’m going to accept it naturally.”

Nadal does not want to read too much into possible reasons for not being able to close out tournaments in 2019. In his mind, he simply lost, and wants to move forward the best he can.

“We can try and find as many excuses, or ifs, or possibilities, or whys, but at the end, it’s a matter of playing good tennis and if you play at a good level, I think I would have been able to win today’s match,” Nadal said. “I wasn’t able to play as good as I wanted to play. So, the consequence is that I was not able to win the match.”

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If for no other reason, this loss stings because Nadal was unable to triumph in front of his home fans at the Caja Magica, the home of the lone ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Spain.

“It’s a defeat. It’s a lost possibility to be able to play a final in an important tournament for me, a lovely tournament. I’ve lost that opportunity,” Nadal said. “It just means that I’m not going to be playing a match tomorrow, another day in front of all of these great people who come here to support me. And what they give me, it is impossible to describe and thank them enough.”

Nadal believes that he was not striking his groundstrokes deep enough in the court, and he did not punish mid-court forehands to the best of his ability. As the Spaniard said, “I was not able to create [for] him the feeling that he was going to suffer when I was hitting the forehand.” That allowed Tsitsipas to exert his own gameplan against the second seed.

“Being honest, my feeling is it was more about me tonight. He is young, he is improving and he has good talent. But I don’t see myself losing that match if I play the same level that I played in Barcelona 2018 final, or in Australia at the beginning of the season. That’s my feeling,” Nadal said. “Maybe it’s not the truth, but that is my feeling.”

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Five Must-See First-Round Matches In Rome

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

Five Must-See First-Round Matches In Rome

A closer look at the standout first-round matches in Rome

After thrilling ATP Masters 1000 events on clay at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the Mutua Madrid Open, the ATP Tour heads to Rome for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with another 1,000 ATP Rankings points up for grabs for the titlist. looks at five first-round matches to watch:

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. David Goffin (BEL)

For the first time since the 2016 BNP Paribas Open, Stan Wawrinka and David Goffin will meet on the ATP Tour. The 34-year-old Wawrinka leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-1, but the pair will be facing each other for the first time on clay at the fifth ATP Masters 1000 event of the season.

The Swiss will be aiming to build on his run to the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals with a strong showing in Rome, where he reached the championship match in 2008 (l. to Djokovic). Wawrinka owns a 22-13 record at the clay-court Masters 1000 tournament.

Goffin will be hoping to get back to winning ways after a first-round loss to Marton Fucsovics in Madrid. The Belgian, who has reached the quarter-finals in three of his past four visits to Rome, advanced to his second semi-final of the year at the Millennium Estoril Open (l. to Tsitsipas) earlier this month.

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[12] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)

Brace yourselves. Two of the most imaginative players on the ATP Tour are set to go head-to-head in the first round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

World No. 14 Daniil Medvedev and Acapulco titlist Nick Kyrgios will face off at the Foro Italico for the first time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, in a match which promises to entertain the crowds at the start of an exciting week in the Italian capital. Medvedev and Kyrgios will both enter the first-round match with cause for optimism, having each lifted silverware already in 2019.

Medvedev captured his fourth ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open in February (d. Fucsovics) and has also advanced to championship matches in Brisbane (l. to Nishikori) and Barcelona (l. to Thiem). The Russian owns 25 victories from 34 tour-level matches this season.

Kyrgios clinched his fifth tour-level trophy at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in March. The Australian defeated Rafael Nadal, Wawrinka, John Isner and Alexander Zverev en route to the title.

[13] Borna Coric (CRO) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)

A meeting between two of the most exciting young talents on the ATP Tour. Borna Coric and Felix Auger-Aliassime both have a bright future ahead of them, but only one will make it past the first hurdle at the Foro Italico.

Both men have enjoyed impressive starts at Masters 1000 level this year, which was highlighted by their quarter-final clash at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March. In their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter, it was the #NextGenATP Canadian who progressed to the final four. But Coric will be encouraged by his reaction to that loss, another Masters 1000 quarter-final run at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Fognini).

Auger-Aliassime has also proven his credentials on the clay this year. The 18-year-old reached his first ATP Tour final on the surface at the Rio Open presented by Claro in February and has only been beaten by Top 10 opposition in his three previous European clay swing appearances this year.

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[10] Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)

There aren’t many first-round matches that will excite fans around the grounds more than this encounter. Fabio Fognini and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will contest the sixth chapter of this FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, which has seen both players push each other to the limits.

Tsonga may lead their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 4-1, but Fognini enters the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in the form of his career after capturing his maiden Masters 1000 crown at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Lajovic) last month. The Italian will be able to rely on the passionate support of his home crowd, which provided Fognini with great energy en route to victories over then-No. 1 Andy Murray in 2017 and Dominic Thiem last year.

Fognini will be confident of securing his second straight win over the Frenchman, who he defeated for the first time in their most recent meeting at the 2017 BNP Paribas Open. Tsonga will be making his first appearance at an ATP Tour event since the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, when he retired from his first-round match against Taylor Fritz with a back injury.

Read More: 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Facts And Figures

Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs. [16] Marco Cecchinato (ITA)

Last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Alex de Minaur will face a tough opening-round test against 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato. The Sydney International winner, who has struggled with injuries since reaching the Acapulco quarter-finals (l. to Zverev) in February, enters the match searching for form after an opening-round loss to fellow 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz at the Mutua Madrid Open.

In their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at the All England Club last year, the #NextGenATP Australian defeated Cecchinato in four sets to reach the second round. But the prospect of defeating the Italian on his favourite surface, in front of a lively Italian crowd, is a very different challenge.

Cecchinato has already clinched a clay-court title this year. The Palermo native did not drop a set en route to the Argentina Open trophy (d. Schwartzman) in February and also reached the BMW Open by FWU semi-finals (l. to Garin) earlier this month.

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Rafael Nadal beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in Madrid Open semi-final

  • Posted: May 12, 2019

Rafael Nadal’s bid for a sixth Madrid Open is over after he was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final.

Greek 20-year-old Tsitsipas, the eighth seed, came through 6-4 2-6 6-3 in a thrilling encounter.

He will play top seed Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final after the Serb earlier overcame Austrian Dominic Thiem 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4).

Nadal’s defeat on the Madrid clay comes just two weeks before he bids for a 12th French Open title in Paris.

Tsitsipas, one of the most exciting young players in the game, beat Roger Federer at this year’s Australian Open and, though he had never beaten Nadal, produced a brilliant performance to see off the Spaniard on his favourite surface.

Nadal’s defeat was his third straight semi-final exit on clay after losing to Fabio Fognini in the Monte Carlo Masters and Thiem in the Barcelona Open.

Tsitsipas said: “It means the world, it’s really nice to be able to play this way, it’s an unbelievable feeling.

“I had to show mental discipline, and being tough and decisive in those crucial moments was key, I had to take all opportunities because Rafa is a fighter, he doesn’t give you many points.”

Tsitsipas, who beat Djokovic in the Rogers Cup in Toronto last August, said he was looking forward to another match with the Serbian.

“I’ll have to be mentally prepared for Djokovic, I’m sure he wants the title as badly as me.”

The Greek made a fine start against Nadal, breaking the Spaniard’s serve three times in the opening set, but the 17-time Grand Slam champion looked to have swung the match in his favour by winning four straight games at the end of the second.

Tsitsipas saved break points early in the third and then earned a break of his own to move to move 3-2 in front before another soon after took him 5-2 ahead.

Nadal then denied Tsitsipas when his opponent was serving for the match before the contest ended with a thrilling final game.

Nadal saved Tsitsipas’ first match point at 30-40 before hitting a sensational pick-up winner and a fine drop shot to see off two more, leaving his home crowd gasping in disbelief.

But when the Spaniard hit a volley into the net on the following point to give Tsitsipas a fourth match point, the Greek closed out the match.

Djokovic finding form before Paris

World number one Djokovic reached his third Madrid final earlier on Saturday with a gruelling win over Thiem.

The match lasted two hours and 24 minutes and secured Djokovic a first clay-court final of the season.

Thiem, the runner-up in the previous two Madrid finals, led by a break in both sets but Djokovic fought back to win.

Elsewhere, Roger Federer has confirmed he will play in next week’s Italian Open as he continues to build-up to his first French Open for four years.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion played his first clay-court event in three years in Madrid, reaching the quarter-finals before losing to Thiem.

Federer has never won in Rome and will receive a first-round bye for the tournament which begins on Monday.

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