• Nadal kicks off Rome campaign against Fognini

    5/14/13 9:30 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal kicks off Rome campaign against Fognini Rafael Nadal will begin his bid for a second straight Rome title when he takes the court on Wednesday. Italy's own Fabio Fognini is looking for the upset.

    Rafael Nadal brings with him a 36-2 lifetime record at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia as he heads into his 2013 tournament debut on Wednesday. Nadal has won the event six times, including last year when he avenged a 2011 final defeat to Novak Djokovic.

    The fifth-ranked Spaniard saw his Monte-Carlo reign come to an end last month, but his Madrid performance bodes well for his chances in Rome. Nadal captured his second clay-court title in Madrid by rolling over an in-form Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday. The victory improved Nadal's 2013 record to 31-2, which already includes five ATP titles (two of the Masters variety).

    Up first for the former world No. 1 in Rome is Fabio Fognini, whom he has never faced. Fognini was dealt an all-Italian opener against Andreas Seppi (a 2012 quarterfinalist) and he stormed through it 6-4, 6-1. The host nation's No. 2 player now has 15 match wins this year and he registers one spot off his career-high ranking at 25th in the world. Fognini reached the Monte-Carlo quarterfinals earlier this spring, so he is playing especially well at the moment.

    There is no doubt Fognini has the talent to hang with anyone on tour on any given day. The question, as always, is what kind of mentality he will bring to the table. If the Italian fans can inspire their man to give 100 percent the entire way, each of the two sets against Nadal could be both entertaining and competitive. Fognini has a solid two-handed backhand and he likes hitting it even at shoulder height, so Nadal's heavy topspin may not be too much of a problem.

    Either way, though, Nadal will almost certainly get the job done in straights. The fifth seed is simply too good on clay and too good in Rome. Plus, he has a ton of confidence in the aftermath of Madrid.

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#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 5/14/13 10:31 PM

Vamos indeedy!!!!!

One match at a time, Rafa!!!!

Monalysa , 5/14/13 10:44 PM

Should be a good match

ts38 , 5/14/13 10:53 PM

Good luck Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 5/14/13 11:35 PM

Yay! Rafa's match will be on @ 10:30 AM my time! Finally I can see Rafa's match live!

Go get 'em, Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 5/15/13 12:20 AM

Looking forward to seeing Fabio play. He's so much fun to watch. No one can accuse him of ever hurrying to get to where he's going. hehe

scoretracker , 5/15/13 5:34 AM

Rafa has the worst draw among the big 4. Fognini can be tricky in front of his home crowd. Gulbis, Ferrer and Djokovic en route to the final..
No matter what, vamos...

arwen , 5/15/13 9:33 AM

Rafa in the zone

nadline , 5/15/13 10:03 AM

Totally agree, @arwen, Rafa has a tough draw but I think it's for the best because Rafa has said he has been limiting the amount of time he spends on the practice courts as part of his recovery. So, let him get the work outs during matches!

rafaisthebest , 5/15/13 11:15 AM

RITB: Johnny Mac used to hate practising, in fact he'd play doubles as a way of "practising." Rafa is in verrry good company.
Would actually like Andy to play more doubles, think he plays better if he does, especially volleying etc.

deuce , 5/15/13 11:43 AM

I am on the business trip but will be able to watch Rafa via live links...fromsport seems to be the you guys have any other link to recommend? I have to tell you that I am very superstitious and believe that if I don't watch Rafa's match he may lose it...:) I know it is rather stupid thing to think, but I prefer watching him anyway...Hope he plays well vs. Fognini as Italian is a 'crowd engaging' player and he will most likely get extra energy from the support of his fans...Rafa just needs to be focused and calm...

Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 5/15/13 12:42 PM

Excellent point, deucy. I too would like to see the big boys playing doubles more......

rafaisthebest , 5/15/13 12:42 PM

nats, there are also streamhunter, sportlemon and frontrow.

nadline , 5/15/13 12:48 PM

Fognini can be pesky but if Nadal starts as against Wawa this shouldn't be too much trouble.

Shireling , 5/15/13 3:05 PM

@ Shire,

I agree too, but this is Rafael Nadal!!!

Monalysa , 5/15/13 3:28 PM

1st set Rafa - 6:1

nadline , 5/15/13 8:10 PM

I was wondering where that thread was?!

Monalysa , 5/15/13 8:20 PM

Hello, hello!! Testing, one, two! Is Fog in the house?!!!

Monalysa , 5/15/13 8:22 PM

I feel Fog heard me!! Rafa seems to be getting bored out there!!!!

Monalysa , 5/15/13 8:25 PM

The Fog breaks back, out of nowhere...........

rafaisthebest , 5/15/13 8:25 PM

The fog has lifted............

rafaisthebest , 5/15/13 8:30 PM

Rafa needs to wake up it seems.....I just knew that would happen!!!

Monalysa , 5/15/13 8:32 PM

Oh, oh, the Fog loses it...........

rafaisthebest , 5/15/13 8:36 PM

Ok, things seem to be getting back on track! Up, up amd away, Rafa!!!!

Monalysa , 5/15/13 8:39 PM

Now close it out Rafa, we don't have all night.......

rafaisthebest , 5/15/13 8:41 PM

Rafa wins 61 63.

nadline , 5/15/13 8:47 PM

GSM Rafa. Nice job. I was expecting a sterner test, tbh, but Rafa is getting better and better with each match he plays.

Just needs to work on that concentration a little bit more...............


rafaisthebest , 5/15/13 8:48 PM

Rafa will need to focus against Gulbis if Gulbis is on. I know Gulbis can't wait to have another go at Rafa.

nadline , 5/15/13 8:49 PM

Don't worry, Gulbis is guaranteed to be on tomorrow. Only needs to see Rafa across the net to be on......

In fact, I expect he has already started with the trash talk..........

rafaisthebest , 5/15/13 8:52 PM

I couldn't see the last couple of games as the stupid live stream went crazy, but from what I have seen Rafa looks better than in Madrid and I believe it's not only due to his getting into the zone but also this Rome clay suits him better...I am pleased the way he played...that lapse in the second was a little annoying but he made things work right away...Fognini was not much of a player today...Gulbis will be tough...I agree with nadline: Gulbis is all excited to face Rafa again...

Great win for Rafa?one-hour match! Beautiful!
Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 5/15/13 8:58 PM

Gulbis will be more of a challenge, the Fog is still a bit of a child

Shireling , 5/15/13 9:03 PM

Now that I have had the pleasure of seeing Rafa play live, I can say that he looks really sharp. He seems much more comfortable on the clay at Rome. His groundstrokes were sharp with depth and penetration and that backhand is looking a lot better. Great serving stats for Rafa in this match!

I am glad that this match was easy, because Gulbis now awaits. We know how he seems to always be up for it when he plays Rafa. It's good that Rafa appears to be in even better form. He's going to need to have his game for Gulbis.

Nativenewyorker , 5/15/13 9:28 PM

Rafa's got his toughest challenge tomorrow, but he'll be ready for it. He'll have to keep focussed. I did not expect much from Fognini contrary to what some people thought.

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 5/15/13 9:42 PM

Great, match at a time!!

Monalysa , 5/15/13 10:06 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
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