Italian Open facts and figures: From info about Foro Italico to the lack of Italian success and the roll of honour

Novak Djokovic 2020 Italian Open champion

We give you the lowdown about the Italian Open, a joint ATP Masters 1000 and WTA 1000 event.

So many different names

It is officially the Italian Open, but of course it also goes by the sponsor’s name, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Then you might also have heard it being referred to as the Rome Masters, since it is an ATP Masters 1000 event, and the Italian Championships.

Foro Italico Italian Open

Long tradition

It is the fourth oldest ATP Masters 1000 event after the Canadian Open (1881), Monte-Carlo Masters (1897) and the Cincinnati Masters (1899). The first tournament took place in 1930 with American Bill Tilden claiming the honours while Lili de Alvarez from Spain won the women’s edition that same year.

Two become one

The men’s and women’s tournaments were separate events for the first 80 years, but they opted to combine the two in 2011. Although the women’s tournament is a WTA 1000 event, it is non-mandatory. Novak Djokovic won the men’s title when it became a joint ATP-WTA event in 2011 while Maria Sharapova was victorious in the women’s tournament.

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About the venue…

Construction on the Foro Italico sports complex, which also houses Stadio Olimpico and an aquatics center, started in 1928. The tennis centre has 11 clay courts, eight of which are used for tournaments and three for training.

It has three show courts and the Campo Centrale, the new centre court that opened in 2010, can seat up to 10,400 spectators. The other two main courts are named Supertennis Arena and Stadio Pietrangeli.

Roll of honour

Unsurprisingly, one man has dominated the event and that man is Rafael Nadal as he has won the Italian Open a record nine times. Novak Djokovic is next best with five titles while Thomas Muster has won three.
Rafael Nadal Italian Open

Nadal also has the most consecutive titles won (3), most consecutive finals (6) and most consecutive matches won (17). The Spaniard has played in 11 finals while Djokovic has played in 10.

In 2017, Alexander Zverev became the first player born in the 1990s to win an ATP Masters 1000 title when he defeated Djokovic in the final.

On the women’s side, Chris Evert has five titles to her name and Conchita Martinez, Gabriela Sabatini and Serena Williams have all won it four times. Spaniard Martinez also appeared in a record five consecutive finals from 1993 to 1997.

Missing from Roger Federer’s CV

Roger Federer has won 101 singles titles during his illustrious career, but the Italian Open is conspicuous by its absence. He reached the final four times, but came up short against Djokovic in 2015, Nadal in 2013 and 2006, and Felix Mantilla in 2003.

However, Federer won’t be adding this particular trophy to his cabinet this year as he is once again skipping the event.

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Maria’s dream run

No not Maria Sharapova, but Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. The unseeded Spaniard stunned everyone in 2010 when she came out of nowhere to win the Italian Open, beating the likes of Francesca Schiavone, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic en route to the title. It was one of only five titles she won during her career.

Lack of Italian success

Adriano Panatta was the last Italian to win the men’s tournament in 1976 while Raffaella Reggi won the women’s event in 1985. Sara Errani, though, did finish runner-up to Serena Williams in 2014.

And the Italian hopes rests on Matteo Berrettini this year with the world No 9 coming in hot after reaching the Madrid Open final on Sunday.

Fabio Fognini, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti, to name a few, are also in the main draw.

On the double

Australian Neale Fraser has won six doubles titles while the likes of Roy Emerson, Brian Gottfried and Raul Ramírez have four titles. Of the current crop, the Bryan Brothers have four titles to their name.

Great Britain’s Virginia Wade has four titles and Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis and Peng Shuai have won the tournament three times.

Your defending champions

World No 1 Novak Djokovic won his fifth title last year when he beat Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3 in the final while Simona Halep became a first-time champion in Rome when Karolina Pliskova retired while the Romanian was leading 6-0, 2-1 in the final.

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos are the men’s defending champions while Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova won the women’s doubles last year. However, Su-wei will partner Elise Mertens this year after Strycova announced her retirement last week.

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