The 5th Major Tournament on the ATP Tour in 2010 is the Rome Open. Rome has been held at the Foro Italico in Rome, Italy and was known as the Italian Open. Since 2007 Rome has been called the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and it is the 2nd major clay court tournament of the year. BNL bank is part of the BNP Paribas Group. Rome will be played from Saturday 24 April through to the Men’s Singles Final, which will be held on Sunday 2 May.
Rome is one of the most important tournaments on the ATP Tour because it is one of the 9 prestigious ATP Tour Masters 1000 tournaments. This year Rome will be played on a new and yet to be named tennis stadium with a capacity of 10,500 people. The 38.4 million dollar facility was built and is operated by the Italian Olympic Committee and is integral to their plans to hold a combined men’s and women’s event from 2011. The new stadium was built on the Foro Italico site and the 2010 event will be the first to be held at the new stadium.
The Masters 1000 category events have a total financial commitment of 4.5 million US dollars or 2,750,000 Euros. To put it into perspective, in terms of the world famous Grand Slam tournaments, the winner of Rome earns more ATP ranking points than a player who makes it to a Grand Slam semi final.
The Rome main draw singles ceremony will be held on Saturday 24 April at 12 noon local time. This tournament began in 1930 in Milan, where it was played until 1934. From 1935 the Italian Open was played at the Foro Italico in Rome, with no event taking place from 1936 to 1949. The event recommenced in 1950 and has been an Open event since 1969. This year will be the 67th edition of Rome with the last Italian to win the singles title being Adriano Panatta in 1976.
The singles main draw consists of 56 players. There are 4 main draw wild cards, 7 spots reserved for qualifiers and 2 spots for special exemptions. The qualifying draw will have 28 players which means that you need to win 2 matches in a row in order to qualify. ONLY the Top 8 seeds will receive a BYE in the 1st round and there will be 16 seeded players. Therefore only 48 players play in the 1st round with the 24 winners joining the Top 8 seeds in the 2nd round. All matches are best out of 3 sets.
The ATP rankings as of March 8, 2010 were used to determine which players would be accepted into the singles main draw. The original entry list for who the direct acceptances are is the top 43 players according to the aforementioned rankings date plus, special exempt David Nalbandian because he has a protected ranking of No.15.
It is mandatory for players ranked high enough to be directly accepted to play Rome. Therefore the original cut-off is World No.43 Victor Hanescu of Romania. However, if any players withdraw between now and when the draw is finalised, then the next highest ranked players will move into the vacated spots. The wild cards have not be announced yet and as soon as any information is announced it will be posted here in our coverage of Rome.
Last year the final acceptance was World No.54 at the time Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina. The ranking of the last person to be directly accepted into the main draw becomes the cut-off for that event. The cut-off is a good indicator of the strength of the tournament, with Rome being a very strong tournament. In 2009 only 10 of the Top 54 players in the world did not play.
All 4 wild cards were awarded to Italian players in 2009 in a strong show of support for their own players by the Federazione Italiana Tennis (Italian Tennis Federation). Last year 6 Italians played in the men’s main draw singles event with Andreas Seppi and Simone Bolelli being directly accepted. The other 4 Italians were wild cards Flavio Cipolla, Potito Storace, Fabio Fognini and Filippo Volandri. Seppi and Fognini performed the best by both making it to the 2nd round before being defeated.
Last year the No.1 seed, Rafael Nadal won Rome by defeating No.3 seed and defending Rome champion, Novak Djokovic 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 in the final. Nadal was equal with Thomas Muster of Austria as the only 2 players in the Open era to win 3 Rome singles titles. With his victory in 2009 Nadal became the first male player ever to win 4 Rome singles titles. The Spaniard won 1,000 ATP ranking points for that victory whilst Djokovic won 600 ATP ranking points as the runner-up.
Nadal, who is pictured above during the early phases of his service motion, beat Fernando Gonzalez in the 2009 Rome semi finals and Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals. Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the semis and Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters. The other 2 quarter finalists were Juan Monaco who lost to Gonzalez and (Q) Mischa Zverev who lost to Federer.
Stay tuned to this tennis website for further information about Rome. Click this link for more details including the upcoming Schedule of Play -> Rome 2010: April 24 – May 8.
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photo credit: y.caradec