And you thought the Italian Open would be just a prelude to the French Open? There was more to tennis in Rome this year, there was rain, withdrawals, upsets, and defaults.
The Rain Delay
There was the rain that delayed play, at times necessitating players having to play two matches in one day.
There were the withdrawals, Serena Williams withdrew with a knee injury before her second-round scheduled a match with her sister Venus Williams.
Roger Federer withdrew with an injury to his right leg, after spending four hours on the court. Federer was one of the players that had to play two matches in one day because of the rain delay.
Naomi Osaka withdrew from the quarterfinals after waking up with pain and swelling in her right hand.
Qualifier Kristina Mladenovic defeated fifteenth ranked Belinda Bencic, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1; and then defeated eighth-seeded Ashleigh Barty on the same day, 6-2,6-3. Mladenovic who was the 63rd ranked player lost in the quarterfinals to Maria Sakkari, 7-5, 3-6, 0-6.
Three Americans fell to eventual finalist Johanna Konta. Konta beat Alison Riske, before having to play two matches in one day. The first match on Thursday Konta defeated Sloane Stephens 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-1. She then went on to defeat Venus Williams 6-2, 6-4.
In the round of 32, 40th seeded Marketa Vondrousova defeated third-seeded Simona Halep 2-6, 7-5, 6-3. Also in the round of 32, 13th seeded American Madison Keys was defeated by Sofia Kenin, 6-3, 6-4.
Konta met fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the finals. Pliskova came out strong winning the first three games of the first set, before winning a dominating match 6-3, 6-4. Pliskova dominated the match with five aces while winning 74 percent of her first serves. Konta managed no aces and was only able to secure 68 percent of her first serves.
The women’s doubles was won by the unseeded powerhouse team of Ashley Barty/Victoria Azarenka in three sets over the eighth-seeded team of Anna-Lena Gronefeld/Demi Schuurs, 4-6, 6-0, 10-3.
Hometown’s favorite, Rome native Matteo Berrettini upset the 2017 champion and fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev 7-5, 7-5.
But even that was eclipsed by the antics of Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios was playing Casper Ruud in the round of 32 when his meltdown occurred. With one set apiece, Kyrgios was given a one-game penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct when it appeared, he shouted at someone in the crowd after his serve was broken.
Kyrgios then threw his racket on the floor, kicked over a water bottle and threw a chair into the middle of the court, stating, “I’m done”. Walking off the court, resulting in a default.
But that was the antics, there was play.
Rafael Nadel finally defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinal, after Tsitsipas had previously beaten Nadal in three sets in Madrid last week. Nadal won in Rome 6-3, 6-4. Setting up the finals with Novak Djokovic who defeated Diego Schwartzman in three sets 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
The meeting between second-seeded Nadal and number one seed Djokovic in the Italian Open final is the fifth time the players have played each other for the championship in Rome.
The first set was a witness to Nadal reestablishing his dominance on clay, defeating Djokovic 6-0. This is the first time in 142 sets that Nadal has beaten Djokovic without Djokovic taking a game. The second set Nadal had his chances accumulating 13 breakpoint chances but only converting on three. He lost the second set 4-6. But Nadal’s dominance would not be denied, as he blasted Djokovic in the third set 6-1. Nadal finished the match landing 79 percent of his first serves and breaking Djokovic six times.
The men’s doubles waas won by the third-seeded team of Robert Farah/Juan Sebastian Cabal in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 over the sixth-seeded team of Michael Venus/Raven Klaasen.
French Open to Come
Although Maria Sharapova has already withdrawn from the French Open, if the Italian is any indication it will be some interesting time in France.