Wednesday’s Blockbuster Day At Foro Italico Rained Out

ROME, May 15, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

It’s not often that tennis fans get to see all three of the Big Three – World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, World No. 2 Rafael Nadal and World No. 3 Roger Federer – in action on the same day. They still might. After all, rain doesn’t last forever.

However, the Wednesday blockbuster the ATP Masters 1000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia envisioned for Foro Italico – and doubled the ticket prices – featuring the all-time leaders in Grand Slam and Masters 1000 titles, instead, was met by persistent, all-day rain showers. It washed out play on Campo Centrale and all outer courts, and left a backlog of 12 men’s second-round singles matches hanging in the balance.

Third seed Federer, a four-time Rome finalist, was originally scheduled first on Campo Centrale for his 11 a.m. match against Portugal’s Joao Sousa. It was to be followed by defending champion and second seed Nadal in search of a record-extending eighth Italian Open title against Jeremy Chardy of France. Finally, World No. 1 and top seed Djokovic, who lifted the Mutua Madrid Open trophy on Sunday, was to have headlined the night session action against #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov from Canada. Djokovic is a four-time Rome champion and is also 19-0 against Canadians, including a four-set win over Shapovalov at this year’s Australian Open.

Instead, Mother Nature intervened and it rained – and rained some more. Umbrellas and rain coats were a common site around the wet, chilly Foro Italico grounds.

Because of the forecast of rain throughout much of Wednesday, tournament officials who began the day cautiously optimistic, instead, were forced to push back the schedule hour by hour. A revised Wednesday’s schedule pushed play back from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., then to 4:30 p.m., and later to 6:30 p.m. Along the way, most of the doubles matches were postponed with the focus placed on keeping the men’s and women’s singles draw on schedule. Next, the day session was cancelled with hope that a limited four-match night session featuring two men’s (Djokovic vs. Shapovalov and Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. No. 16 Marco Cecchinato) and two women’s matches (Yulia Putintseva vs. Petra Kvitova and Anett Kontaveit vs. Maria Sakkari) could go on at 7:30 p.m. using Centrale, Grandstand and Pietrangeli, with a second match on Centrale. It didn’t happen, either.

All matches were finally called off about 8:05 p.m. – more than nine hours after play was originally scheduled to begin. The Internazionali BNL d’Italia tweeted and posted on its website information for Wednesday ticket holders. It said that Thursday’s day session would be split into two parts.

“Ticket holders for Wednesday will be able to access the grounds to watch the first two matches on Campo Centrale and Grandstand (starting at 10 a.m.) while those members of the public with tickets for Thursday will be able to watch the matches scheduled from 1 p.m. on Campo Centrale and Grandstand,” the statement read. It also said, “Wednesday ticket holders who are unable to use their tickets tomorrow will be able to ask for a refund. The procedure for securing a refund will be communicated to them at a later date.”

Play will resume on Thursday an hour earlier than normal at 10 a.m. Thursday’s Rome forecast calls for sunny skies and a high temperature of 11º Celsius.

Thursday’s order of play, which wasn’t released until 9:50 p.m. Wednesday night, now shows the Federer-Sousa match as second on Campo Centrale from 10 a.m. (following the Naomi Osaka-Dominika Cibulkova WTA match). The Djokovic-Shapovalov match will be on Campo Centrale not before 1 p.m. The Nadal-Chardy match has been banished to the Grandstand as the second match from 10 a.m. (after the Amanda Anisimova vs. Kiki Bertens WTA match), and if Nadal wins, he will play a second match on Campo Centrale not before 7:30 p.m. against No. 14 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. If Federer wins, he would face No. 13 Borna Coric in the third Grandstand match from 1 p.m. followed by a potential Djokovic vs. the winner of the twice-postponed Kohlschreiber-Cecchinato match

A total of 20 men’s singles matches are now scheduled for Thursday, which includes the 12 postponed Wednesday matches plus eight third-round matches. Call it Thrilling Thursday.