HomeTennisATP Italian Open draw: Novak Djokovic handed tricky route as Rafael Nadal...

ATP Italian Open draw: Novak Djokovic handed tricky route as Rafael Nadal learns his fate

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Novak Djokovic faces a potentially challenging draw at the 2024 Italian Open, while Rafael Nadal looks set to have some favourable early matchups. 

Djokovic will make his return in Rome after skipping the Madrid Open, while Nadal will play the third event of his latest comeback from injury. The Serbian is looking to add to his six Italian Open crowns, while the Spaniard has won a record 10 titles at the event.

The Masters 1000 tournament will be without two of the top three players in the ATP Rankings, with both Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz withdrawing due to injury.

Djokovic, the world No 1, is the top seed in the Italian capital, while fourth-ranked Daniil Medvedev — who is the defending champion — occupies the No 2 spot in the absence of Sinner and Alcaraz.

READ MORE: ATP Rankings: Novak Djokovic secures landmark, Jannik Sinner closes gap, Carlos Alcaraz loses ground

Alexander Zverev is the No 3 seed, Andrey Rublev is fourth, while Casper Ruud (5), Stefanos Tsitsipas (6), Grigor Dimitrov (7) and Hubert Hurkacz (8) complete the top eight.

The 32 seeded players will all receive a first round bye in the 96-player draw, while 12 qualifiers will enter.

Djokovic and Zverev are the two players with the strongest clay-court resumes among the top four seeds and the pair have both landed in the top half of the draw.

The 24-time Major champion will take on either Roman Safiullin or a qualifier in his opening match, before a potentially dangerous third round contest with either 18-year-old rising star Jakub Mensik or Chilean Alejandro Tabilo.

In the fourth round, Djokovic could meet either 16th seed Karen Khachanov, or 20th seed Francisco Cerundolo, who is at his best on clay courts.

Djokovic might then face No 5 seed Ruud, who is in fine form and defeated him in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals last month.

In the last four, the 36-year-old could face off with 2017 Italian Open champion Zverev, with Grigor Dimitrov another possible semi-final opponent.

Medvedev, Rublev, Tsitsipas, Hurkacz, de Minaur, Rune — and Nadal — are among the players Djokovic may face if he reaches the final. Djokovic and Nadal have met in the Rome championship match on six occasions.

Nadal, who is on the opposite side of the draw to his great rival, does not yet know who he will face in the opening round as it will be a player who comes through qualifying.

The 37-year-old would then likely take on Hubert Hurkacz in his second match, with the Pole one of the weaker clay-court players among the higher seeds.

The 14-time French Open winner could meet 25th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry or dangerous unseeded Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild in the third round.

Nadal might then face 10th seed Holger Rune or 17th seed Sebastian Baez in the last 16, before a potential quarter-final clash with Medvedev. Tsitsipas, Dimitrov and de Minaur are among his possible semi-final opponents.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic presented with a golden chance to seal the perfect retirement

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