ATP Tour tips: Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic headline star-studded field at the Italian Open

·3-min read
Getty Images

Nice start to the column last week then after we binked a 15/8 winner in Madrid. In the immortal words of Confucius 'Oi Oi Saveloy!'

It was the financial boost I needed as while there have been some dark moments in my life, on reflection none of them perhaps have been darker than the Nachos I recently paid £17 for at Newcastle Airport.

But we move on. And we take our 100% column strike rate and roll nonchalantly into the Foro Italico for the Italian Open for the next week and a bit.

Scroll to continue with content

Alas, Andy Murray has already gone in Rome, beaten 6-4 4-6 6-4 in a typically energy-sapping battle against home favourite Fabio Fognini. 'Muzza' was playing on the Rome clay for the first time since 2017, when he was defending champion and ranked as the World No 1.

READ MOREItalian Open: Early exit for Andy Murray as Brit is beaten by Fabio Fognini

This is the last big tournament before the French Open of course, and it is Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic who headline a star-studded Rome field.

Alcaraz has won back-to-back events on the dirt in Barcelona and Madrid and is the rightful betting favourite at Roland Garros (5/4 at the time of writing with Planet Sport Bet). Playing Alcaraz at the minute is like trying to escape a beehive.

The man is relentless and operating at the very top of his game. However he has played a lot of tennis in recent weeks so 7/5 or shorter does not make much appeal, particularly given he has never played the Italian Open before.

Novak Djokovic returns to action

Meanwhile, six-time Internazionali BNL d'Italia champion Djokovic returns to action for the first time since Banja Luka. The Serb has a sketchy 2-2 record on clay so far in 2023, but has never lost here before the quarter-finals so catches the eye in the outright market at 3/1 or thereabouts if he is fit and firing. I am happy to swerve the outright betting truth be known. If Alcaraz is 100% physically he should win, but surely his main aim is Roland Garros in a few weeks so am loathe to pull the trigger at such short odds. One match bet I like the look of however is the 2/1 on Fognini to beat Miomir Kecmanovic. The unpredictable Italian is in the winter of his career now at 35 (he actually turns 36 later this month), but has been a joy to watch down the years.

He has so much sass on court but his lackadaisical, laid-back demeanour is not for everyone. Backers need to be aware that the Rome ATP Masters 1000 event has not always been Fognini's best. He is only 14-15 here lifetime after all. However, my hunch is he will be motivated here as in April the swaggering Italian slipped from the world's Top 100 for the first time since 2009. Former junior world No 1 Kecmanovic is obviously no mug, and last year proved himself as one of the most consistent players on the ATP Tour. Hard courts are definitely Kecmanovic's favourite surface though, and Fognini won their only previous meeting on the ATP Tour in straight sets at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2021. The clay in Monte Carlo plays slow much like Rome, so Kecmanovic could find out on Friday that old age and treachery will always trump youth and exuberance.

Suggested bet for the Italian Open round of 64

Fognini to beat Kecmanovic at 2/1

The article ATP Tour tips: Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic headline star-studded field at the Italian Open appeared first on