We give you the lowdown about the Italian Open, a joint ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier 5 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.
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. However, it is only a WTA Premier 5 event. Novak Djokovic won the men’s title that year while Maria Sharapova was victorious in the women’s tournament.
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 eight times. Novak Djokovic is next best with four titles while Thomas Muster has won three.
Nadal also has the most consecutive titles won (3), most consecutive finals (6) and most consecutive matches won (17).
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.
Having skipped the event for the last three years, Federer will return to Foro Italico this year after accepting a late entry.
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.
But there are high hopes this year that Fabio Fognini will produce another brilliant run following his success at the Monte-Carlo Masters in April this year when he beat Rafael Nadal on the way to lifting the trophy.
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, but they are not the defending champions as that honour goes to French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
Great Britain’s Virginia Wade has four titles and Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis and Peng Shuai have won the tournament three times.
Your current champions
Rafael Nadal won his eighth title in 2018 with a three-set win over 2017 champion Alexander Zverev. Elina Svitolina, meanwhile, made it back-to-back titles as she beat Simona Halep in the final for the second year in a row.
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