Rome Open Men's Day Four Tips: Improving Baez can challenge Zverev

The Rome Masters continues on Wednesday with the remainder of round two on the schedule. With a number of big names entering the event, will there be any upsets today?

Nadal faces big-serving Isner to open campaign

The likes of Rafa Nadal, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas get their campaigns underway today after receiving a first round bye, and there are tricky hurdles for all three, despite them being strong favourites to progress to the last 16.

Nadal faces the big-serving threat of John Isner, but despite this, is priced up as a heavy favourite to pick up the win. On clay in the past - and we have to go back 7+ years for this - Isner has been pretty competitive against the Spaniard, picking up a set on slow clay in Monte Carlo and two sets via tiebreaks at the French Open. Other matches were won via a single break in each set for Nadal. Based on this at least, don't expect Nadal to steamroller the American today.

Improving Baez should be a challenge for Zverev

The Argentine qualifier, Sebastian Baez, could also be a difficult opponent for Zverev. Baez is now at a career-high ranking just inside the top 40 after some excellent performances on his preferred clay this season, reaching the final in Santiago and winning in Estoril several weeks ago as well.

Baez has also qualified to be here, and picked up hard-fought wins over talented players in Q2 and round one. Recent losses have been close against good opposition - Lorenzo Musetti and Pablo Carreno-Busta.

Therefore, as with Isner against Nadal, I wouldn't expect Baez to be outclassed by Zverev today.

In fact, such has been Baez's improvement that clay numbers this season suggest there's not much between the duo, albeit with the caveat that Zverev has faced a slightly higher calibre of opposition. I think that he can keep matters close and the +4.5 game handicap appeals at the current 1.87.

Little market love for veterans Wawrinka and Fognini

Moving through the card, it will be interesting to see how Stan Wawrinka backs up his win over Reilly Opelka as he faces Laslo Djere. Certainly the determination is still there for the Swiss man to do well, although he's clearly not close to previous levels. Perhaps the market is still taking a chance though at 3.15.

There's also British interest as Cameron Norrie faces Marin Cilic, and is favourite at 1.65 to get the job done over the Croatian veteran, while there's an intriguing clash between two Italians as Jannik Sinner faces Fabio Fognini. Sinner is the 1.37 favourite and again, the market could be taking a chance here. Fognini isn't at previous levels but remains an enigma with a high ceiling, and putting his younger countryman in his place in their home tournament could well be the motivation he needs.

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