Professional tournaments, most of all with a calibre like that of the Rome Master 1000, have much more going on than just the on-court results. Peculiar revelations, funny moment, interesting facts, here is a recollection of the best May 14th moments at the 2019 Rome Open.
1. Federer lifted the crowd Maybe there was no need to worry about the doubled ticket price on Wednesday for Roger Federer’s debut in this Rome Open. Maybe the true solution was just buying the Tuesday entry to witness the Helvetic legend’s practice session, which surely attracted a bunch of visits this morning.
As social media have shown, Federer might have spent more time getting to the court—due to selfie and autographs requests—than on actually practising. Regarding the rise in price that his participation brought along, the Swiss expressed a little perplexity, “I heard some fans clearly were not happy about it.
That’s obviously disappointing to hear. They made it in a way like they rewarded the fans who bought tickets earlier? Which is sort of strange, but okay. I just really hope it doesn’t take away the fact I’m really happy to be here.
There’s going to be good crowds hopefully, good atmosphere. I’m pumped up to play well. I mean, my excitement couldn’t be bigger”. New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey has a more humoristic vision of the whole, "Italian Open Wednesday centre court tickets (at regular or double price) get you the Big Three (Federer vs Sousa, Nadal vs Chardy, Djokovic vs Shapovalov) and maybe some rain"
2. Happy birthday Kiki! World No. 63 Kristina Mladenovic celebrated her 26th birthday with a flash 6-2 6-2 win over fellow Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the round of 64. Mladenovic is set to battle Belinda Bencic—who bypassed Anastasija Sevastova 2-6 6-3 6-2—for a lead to the third round.
Now though, she has some time to enjoy the atmosphere in Italy’s capital, a city she has proved to love. 3. Kyrgios played around with service... … Or about everything else in this match. Opening the first round against Daniil Medvedev with an underarm service that allowed him to earn that point, the Australian imposed himself 6-3 3-6 6-3 with 41 winners, and ran to the volley to… show his bottom to the Russian—but failed to impress him on that one.
He used the underarm serve a couple of times more to take over the first set, and in a moment of anger cleanly sent a ball flying outside the stadium. Granted, his net game was on fleek. In an interview with Prime Video UK, Kyrgios confessed that he was joking around with Frances Tiafoe when he decided to start the match in that particular way.
4. Bencic, Tsitsipas, Sakkari show off football abilities Rafael Nadal is not the only player who can steal the “tennis + football” spotlight. Practising other sports complements your training efficiency, so Belinda Bencic was spotted kicking balls during her pre-Sevastova-match warm-up today.
The drill paid off pretty well, apparently, as Bencic overthrew the Latvian in three sets and earned a pass to the second round. During a photo shoot, young Greek stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari also tried to impose their multi-sports athletes facet, exchanging a couple of head hits.
Germany's Julia Gorges also had some football practice after her first round win 6-3 6-4 against Hsieh Su-Wei. 5. Zverev’s favourite city is Rome “I love my fans. It’s the reason why we all play tennis and I love every single one of them,” said Alexander Zverev about the support he receives in Rome.
However, neither this warm declaration nor adding that the Italian capital is his favourite city, along with Miami, did help the German to advance further in the draw: he bowed out 7-5 7-5 to local Matteo Berrettini before even reaching the second round.
6. Nishikori found himself a great sparring partner He was done with practise when Japanese star Kei Nishikori was asked by a fan to exchange a couple of strikes. The outcome apparently exceeded his expectations, as the World No.
6 later tweeted, “So today little boy asked me ‘hit, hit, hit’ after practice. So we were like ‘Let’s go!’. He was very good :)” He even shared a video of the moment on his personal app. Nishikori will face American Taylor Fritz in the second round of the Italian Master 1000.