Italian Open 2021 Draw: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal Face Tough Paths to Glory

Published 05/08/2021, 6:22 AM EDT
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 10: Rafael Nadal of Spain (L) and Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a forehand react after watching a video replay while on the sidelines during the Tie Break Tens ahead of the 2018 Australian Open at Margaret Court Arena on January 10, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Continuing the clay-court season, the ATP and WTA tour will move to Rome to play the flagship Italian Open 2021. With Novak Djokovic coming back, he headlines the Italian Open 2021 draw along with his rivals Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, and Dominic Thiem.


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The top four seeds in Rome are World No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic, 2nd seed is Rafael Nadal followed by Daniil Medvedev. Dominic Thiem is the fourth seed. The draw is of 56 players with 16 seeds. The top 8 seeds receive first-round byes.

A tricky path for Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open 2021 draw


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Novak Djokovic reacts after losing his third round match against Britain’s Dan Evans REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Novak Djokovic could start his Italian Open against Dan Evans. Then, he is projected to face Monte Carlo champ Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals. Furthermore, he has Thiem on his side as well, whom he could face in the semifinals.

Monte Carlo finalist and World No.7 Andrey Rublev is also on Djokovic’s half of the draw. Moreover, Grigor Dimitrov, Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils are all on his side.

Djokovic has seen a slight dip in form since returning from injury. He was ousted from the Monte Carlo Masters by Dan Evans. Later in Belgrade, he lost to Aslan Karatsev in the semifinals, so clay season has not been easy for the Serbian.

Who could trouble Rafael Nadal en route to 10th Italian Open title

Rafael Nadal reacts during his quarter final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Sergio Perez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Nadal might play home favorite and Italian teenage sensation Jannik Sinner in the second round. He could later do a repeat of the Madrid Open quarterfinals against Alexander Zverev in Rome. Moreover, he could then face Medvedev in the semifinals.

The Spaniard also has last year’s finalist who beat him in the semifinals, Diego Schwartzman on his side. Moreover, Kei Nishikori. Casper Ruud, Fabio Fognini, and Aslan Karatsev are on his side as well.

Nadal will aim for a record 10th title in Rome. But apart from his Barcelona triumph this year, he has been shaky in the other two ATP Masters tournaments on clay. The next-gen stars have gotten the better of Nadal a couple of times, and that has rung alarm bells in the Nadal camp.

Daniil Medvedev’s road towards first clay title at Italian Open 2021

One could see a high-intensity all-Russian clash with Medvedev and Karatsev early on in the tournament. Medvedev’s quarterfinal opponent could be last year’s finalist Diego Schwartzman. If he does reach the semifinals, then according to the seeds he could face Nadal.

He also has the company of Zverev, Kei Nishikori. Casper Ruud, Fabio Fognini, and Aslan Karatsev on his side of the draw.

Daniil Medvedev in action during his round of 32 match against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Medvedev’s horrid run on clay has continued in 2021. Despite his high ranking, Medvedev has not shown a lot of desire in winning on clay. His clay season started off with a COVID-19 diagnosis, followed by an early exit in Madrid.

Dominic Thiem’s Italian Open 2021 draw


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Dominic Thiem could face an early challenge against Gael Monfils. Later he could play in-form Russian, Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals. After that, he could potentially see a clash against World No.1 Djokovic in the semifinals.

World No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas is on his side of the draw. Moreover, Grigor Dimitrov, Matteo Berrettini, and Gael Monfils are also on his side.

Dominic Thiem in action during his round of 32 match against Marcos Giron of the U.S. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Thiem made his anticipated return from injury in Madrid this week. 2021 has been hard on the Austrian, but Madrid Open showed signs of improvement as he has found himself in the semifinals.


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Bhavishya Mittal

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Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.