The tour’s newest first-time ATP Masters 1000 champion and finalist will be put to the test on Thursday at the Foro Italico, as Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters winner Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Mutua Madrid Open runner up Matteo Berrettini in a third-round blockbuster at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Both players will likely be high on confidence and riding the momentum as they compete in the midst of their most successful stretches of the 2021 season. The Greek player recently made his long-awaited Masters 1000 breakthrough in Monte-Carlo (d. Rublev). He went on to reach the final in Barcelona, where he pushed Rafael Nadal to three sets in the most competitive final the Spaniard has ever played there.
As a result, Tsitsipas has one eye on the Nitto ATP Finals after climbing to first position of the FedEx ATP Race To Turin – and he’s vowed to make it his mission to stay at the top.
“It’s good news that I’m still there, I’m fighting for it every single week,” Tsitsipas said in a pre-tournament interview. “I didn’t have a very good week last week in Madrid, but so far it’s looking good. I’ve been very consistent, which obviously helps to be in that situation. I’m looking forward to being able to perform the same way, or do even better in the future.”
He’ll face a big test against the resurgent Berrettini, who won his first title of the year at the Serbia Open in Belgrade and used that result as a springboard to reach his maiden Masters 1000 final in Madrid.
The Italian, who was sidelined for a few weeks at the start of the year due to an abdominal injury, might not want to think too far ahead about the Nitto ATP Finals happening in his country at the end of the season. But Berrettini’s results still booked him a spot among the Top 8 positions – another sign of his emphatic return to form.
“I know and I feel that I can play this kind of tennis, this kind of level, I deserve to be here,” Berrettini said after the Madrid final. “When I play and I use my weapons in the right way, all the players are struggling. This is something that makes me confident for the future.
“Obviously everybody looks at the Race, but it’s too soon now… The most important thing is to be healthy. Once I’m healthy, I can reach my level, my best level.”
Tsitsipas will take a 1-0 ATP Head2Head lead into their battle on Grand Stand Arena. The Greek player came back from a set down to win in four at the Australian Open in 2019.
Elsewhere in the Eternal City, top seeds Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are back in action. Last year’s champion Djokovic will take on Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – his regular practice partner in Marbella – in the first match of the day on Centre Court. Nadal, who is looking for his 10th Rome crown, will face 13th seed Denis Shapovalov later in the afternoon.
Madrid champion Alexander Zverev will look to continue his winning ways in the Italian capital. The sixth seed will face a tricky test against Kei Nishikori, whom he defeated en route to the title last week. Zverev improved to a 3-1 ATP Head2Head over Nishikori with that win, and levelled their matchup on clay to 1-1.
Fourth seed Dominic Thiem and seventh seed Andrey Rublev are also in action, while Aslan Karatsev and Felix Auger-Aliassime also feature on Thursday.
[WATCH LIVE 1]
SCHEDULE – THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2021
CENTER COURT start 10:00 am
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
WTA –  A. Barty (AUS) vs V. Kudermetova (RUS)
Not Before 2:00 pm
 D. Shapovalov (CAN) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 6.00PM
WTA –  G. Muguruza (ESP) vs  E. Svitolina (UKR)
GRAND STAND ARENA start 10:00 am
R. Opelka (USA) vs A. Karatsev (RUS)
Not Before 12:00 noon
 M. Berrettini (ITA) vs  S. Tsitsipas (GRE)
WTA –  K. Pliskova (CZE) vs [Q] V. Zvonareva (RUS)
WTA – J. Ostapenko (LAT) vs A. Kerber (GER)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 D. Thiem (AUT) vs L. Sonego (ITA)
PIETRANGELI start 10:00 am
WTA – C. Gauff (USA) vs  A. Sabalenka (BLR)
WTA – B. Krejcikova (CZE) vs  I. Swiatek (POL)
F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs [Q] F. Delbonis (ARG)
 A. Zverev (GER) vs K. Nishikori (JPN)
 R. Bautista Agut (ESP) vs  A. Rublev (RUS)
COURT 1 start 10:00 am
WTA – E. Alexandrova (RUS) vs J. Pegula (USA)
WTA – N. Podoroska (ARG) vs P. Martic (CRO)
COURT 2 start 10:00 am
WTA –  S. Hsieh (TPE) / E. Mertens (BEL) vs [ALT] S. Fichman (CAN) / G. Olmos (MEX)
[WC] F. Fognini (ITA) / L. Musetti (ITA) vs [Alt] M. Arevalo (ESA) / M. Middelkoop (NED)
M. Demoliner (BRA) / D. Medvedev (RUS) vs A. Mannarino (FRA) / B. Paire (FRA)
 K. Krawietz (GER) / H. Tecau (ROU) vs [Alt] L. Broady (GBR) / A. Murray (GBR)
COURT 4 start 10:00 am
[Alt] A. Behar (URU) / G. Escobar (ECU) vs  W. Koolhof (NED) / J. Rojer (NED)
M. Daniell (NZL) / P. Oswald (AUT) vs  N. Mektic (CRO) / M. Pavic (CRO)
J. Peers (AUS) / M. Venus (NZL) vs  I. Dodig (CRO) / F. Polasek (SVK)
 M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG) vs L. Kubot (POL) / F. Skugor (CRO)
R. Klaasen (RSA) / B. McLachlan (JPN) vs  R. Ram (USA) / J. Salisbury (GBR)