Novak Djokovic at the 2020 Italian Open
Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi believes Novak Djokovic “not being in great shape” will make the 2022 Italian Open “more balanced and exciting.” Binaghi also revealed that he is confident Rafael Nadal will compete at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, which is set to begin on 9 May.
Djokovic downed Miomir Kecmamovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Serbia Open on Thursday. The World No. 1 defeated another fellow Serb, Laslo Djere, 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4) in his opening match at the ATP 250 tournament on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old was beaten in three sets by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round of the 2022 Monte-Carlo Masters last week. Djokovic admitted in his post-match press conference that he “ran out of gas completely” in the third set.
Nadal, meanwhile, has not played competitively since suffering a stress fracture in his rib at last month’s Indian Wells Masters, where he lost in the final to Taylor Fritz. The injury forced the Spaniard to withdraw from last week’s Monte-Carlo Masters and the ongoing Barcelona Open.
In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Binaghi argued Djokovic’s lack of form could be a positive for the Italian Open, while declaring he expects Nadal to also be present in Rome.
“Luckily ‘Nole’ is not yet in great shape, it makes the tournament more balanced and exciting,” Binaghi said. “Rafa is on the entry list, he is fond of our tournament and therefore I am confident that he will be part of [it]. As for [Matteo] Berrettini, he called me before announcing his temporary inactivity due to the hand, he has shown in recent years that he knows how to return after an injury stronger than before, so I am convinced that he will do it again this time.”
The Italian also expressed confidence that this year’s edition of the tournament will be a big success.
“I believe that both for the value of our players and for the general situation of world tennis, this edition of the Internazionali d’Italia will be one of the most interesting ever,” Binaghi added. “At the Internazionali in Rome, a record audience is expected once again, we are overwhelmed by requests. This is thanks to the guys who are doing extraordinary results, health permitting.”
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the Italian Open since 2005
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal shake hands after the 2021 Italian Open final
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the two most successful players in the history of the Italian Open. The Spaniard has won the event a record 10 times and finished as a runner-up twice, while the Serb has claimed five titles and lost in six finals.
Since Nadal’s maiden Rome triumph in 2005, at least one of the great duo has reached the final of the Masters 1000 event every year. The pair have faced off in six Italian Open title matches, with Nadal winning four of the contests.