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Weekend Preview of the Italian Open

The Italian Open, an outdoor clay court tournament classified as a Masters 1000 event, is a two-week tournament that began earlier this week with qualification and extends into next weekend. It’s one of the last stops before the French Open, the second grand slam of the year, and has a deep field with all of the top players in the world with the exception of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz, who withdrew due to injuries.

The first round of the 96-player tournament wrapped up on Thursday and there are plenty of intriguing matches ahead this weekend with strong upset possibilities. Here’s a look at some of the marquee matches in the Round of 64.

First-Round Recap

The top-32 seeds in the tournament received an automatic bye into the second round and, while the Round of 64 only began Friday morning, there were already a few upsets. Alexander Bublik, the 15th seed, lost his opening match against Nuno Borges. Lorenzo Musetti, the 26th seed, retired after losing the first set in his match against unranked French player Terence Atmane. Thirteenth seed Ugo Humbert withdrew from the tournament before his first match.

While none of the top-32 seeds competed in the first round, there were some close and interesting matches. Corentin Moutet defeated Roman Safiullin 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2 and qualifier Francesco Passaro beat Arthur Rinderknech 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (7). Others who moved on from the first round include Fabio Fognini, Yoshihito Nishioka, Botic van de Zandschulp, and Rafael Nadal, who lost his first set against Zizou Bergs before winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Second-Round Betting Previews

Felix Auger-Aliassime (-270) vs. Botic van de Zandschulp (+185)

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime has struggled over the last two years, but seemed to find renewed confidence last week at the Mutua Madrid Open, reaching the final before losing a close three-set affair to Andrey Rublev. It was the first Masters 1000 final for Auger-Aliassime, who looks to build upon that momentum against van de Zandschulp. He’s 2-1 in his career against the Dutch player and holds an impressive 8-3 record on clay this season after going 1-3 on the surface in 2023.

Hubert Hurkacz (-130) vs. Rafael Nadal (-105)

It’s not often that Nadal is only a marginal favorite in a second-round match on clay, but that’s the reality in 2024 with the Spaniard losing a step due to age and injuries. Still, it’s difficult to count him out, as he showed in his first-round match. He has a much tougher test in the second round against Hubert Hurkacz, who is 47-21 over the last 52 weeks and won the Millenium Estoril Open earlier this season.

Interestingly, Hurkacz and Nadal have never played each other on the ATP Tour. While Nadal is the favorite and the better player on clay, he will be in tough against Hurkacz and his impressive service game.

Tommy Paul (-235) vs. Aslan Karatsev (+165)

This will be the second meeting between American Tommy Paul and Aslan Karatsev, with Karatsev holding a 1-0 advantage. Paul, who won the Dallas Open earlier this season, should even the head-to-head series in this match.

He is 42-24 in the last 52 weeks and Karatsev, who has dealt with injuries this year, had lost four matches in a row before winning his opening-round match against Mackenzie McDonald.

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