Day 1 Highlights: Darderi and Cobolli Through to R2 in Rome; Berrettini Withdraws
Luciano Darderi plaing at Campo Centrale in Rome, Italy, May 8, 2024. Photo courtesy: Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

The Internazionali BNL d’Italia welcomes back to the Foro Italico six-time champion Novak Djokovic and 22-time major winner Rafael Nadal, making his 19th appearance at the event this week in the Eternal City of Rome.

The Internazionali BNL d’Italia, a combined ATP-WTA Masters 1000 tournament, the last of the season contested on clay, got underway on Wednesday, kicking off first-round action at the Foro Italico.

The Italian players made headlines on and off the court on Roman soil.

An opening day, disrupted by the rain, saw home heroes Luciano Darderi and Flavio Cobolli emerge victorious from their respective first-round matches during the day session.

A contest decided by small margins featured Darderi, making his maiden main draw appearance at his home event, facing off against semifinalist Denis Shapovalov.

The 22-year-old rallied from a set down to beat the Canadian, (5)6-7, 6-3, 7-6(4), after three hours and 10 minutes, earning his second win on Masters 1000 level.

Next, the World No. 54 will square off against in-form Argentine Mariano Navone.

Shapovalov took the first set tiebreak following a hard-fought 75-minute battle on Campo Centrale.

Solid behind his serve, the Italian broke twice to come out on top, forcing a decider.

A thrilling third set saw Shapovalov, a former Top 10, failing to serve for the match, which allowed the Cordoba reigning champion to send the decider into a tiebreak.

Building momentum, Darderi earned two match points, sealing the three-setter in his first attempt to advance through the second round.

Navone and the young Italian played one another last week at the Cagliari Challenger Tour semifinals, a clash the former won in straight sets en route to earning the biggest title of his career.

The 23-year-old prevailed over second-seed Lorenzo Musetti at the ATP 175 championship match.

In 2024, Navone, who has competed in six tournaments at tour level, achieving good results, including making it through the final at the Rio Open, went from being ranked outside the Top 100 last February to reaching a career-high No. 31 on Monday.

Meanwhile, Cobolli, who previously advanced to the third round in Madrid, lost to 16th seed Karen Khachanov, overpowered qualifier Maximilian Marterer in straight sets before the rain delay.

On Friday, the 22-year-old born in Florence will meet 24th seed Sebastian Korda in their first clash on Tour.

Off the court, local Matteo Berrettini made headlines following the announcement of his withdrawal from the Internazionali BNL d’Italia due to ongoing injury concerns.

In a press conference held at the Foro Italico, the 8-time ATP titlist asserted: “I’m not ready to perform and to give my best on court. I tried everything because this tournament is extra special for me. But I have to put away my heart and think about what’s most important for me, which is my health and not getting injured again, not being away from the courts for months potentially.”

It’s with a lot of sadness that I have to pull out,” he added.

American J.J. Wolf will step in for Berrettini to play Stefano Napolitano.

Moreover, the Italian Masters 1000 sees world number one Novak Djokovic and 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal competing in the same tournament for the first time in over a year and a half.

The Serbian awaits to meet his rival, while the Spaniard will face Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs in his first-rounder. Whoever wins will play seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz.

Due to the rain delay, which forced organizers to suspend play, four ATP singles matches will be moved as well as the clash between Arthur Rinderknech and Francesco Passaro halted in the second set.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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