The Rome Masters event is considered the last chance for the players to put the finishing touches to their games before the second Gram Slam event of the year; the French Open.
Most of the world’s biggest stars will be on show, and so will give punters a good opportunity to see their form prior to the start of the French on May 25.
The Men’s Draw
The defending champion is Novak Djokovic, and his hopes of retaining his title could well be boosted by the news that Andy Murray has yet to decide whether he will play in the event or not.
The Scot has been a double winner on clay in recent weeks, first in Munich and recently at the Madrid Masters event. As such, he may take a rest before the start of the big one – and this will play into Djokovic’s hands.
Rafael Nadal, one of the games finest ever players on clay, is finding a bit of form too, although he will have been disappointed with the manner in which he succumbed to that straight sets defeat in the final in Madrid.
There are other players with their eyes on the prize too of course: Roger Federer is still a contender despite his advancing years, and at the other end of the age spectrum Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov all look like French Open winners in the making.
Indeed, Djokovic is set to meet Nishikori in the quarter finals should the draw go to plan, which would naturally make observers favour Nadal, who has a fairly straightforward run to the final, to lift the title from 3/1.
Of course, Andy Murray will have plenty to say about that should he decide to play.
The Women’s Draw
The one to watch in the ladies draw could well be Petra Kvitova, who swept all before her in Madrid last week. She won her quarter final, semi final and the final in straight sets (against Irina-Camelia Begu, Serena Williams and Svetlana Kuznetzova respectively), and looked in dominant form.
The Czech star only dropped two sets throughout the whole tournament, and while the clay in Rome is a slower surface than that of Madrid she should still do well. The fact that she can be backed from 9/1 is very enticing indeed.
Naturally Serena Williams, who is the number one seed, will be her toughest competition, but it will be worth keeping an eye on the form of Simona Halep – who will want to improve upon her shock last 32 loss to Alize Cornet in Madrid, and the ever-dangerous Maria Sharapova.
This tournament will give punters a great insight heading into the French Open in a fortnight too.