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Novak Djokovic vs Alexandr Dolgopolov ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Djokovic faces mercurial Dolgopolov in tricky Rome opener

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 14 May 2018
  • Novak Djokovic vs Alexandr Dolgopolov is live from Rome on Monday, 14 May from 3:00pm local time/ 2:00pm BST
  • Djokovic leads 5-0 on head-to-head
Novak Djokovic. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Former world number one, Novak Djokovic begins his quest for a fifth Rome title on Monday when he takes on the mercurial Ukrainian, Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Djokovic has had his troubles over the last year; and has suffered three opening round defeats in his last five tournaments, but he does have a fantastic record in Rome, where he has reached the final in each of the last four years. Can a return to the happy hunting ground of the Foro Italico reignite the slumbering Serbian?

Last year, Djokovic had arrived Rome without an ATP final since winning Doha in the opening week of the season, but he found some spark in the Italian capital, arguably playing his best tennis of the season in beating Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter finals and crushing Dominic Thiem, who was coming off a win over Rafael Nadal, in the semi-finals. However, he couldn’t get over the line as he was taken apart by the impressive Alexander Zverev in the championship match. 

Djokovic can do with a similar run in 2017, as he desperately searches for something to kickstart a jerk him back into form. The Serbian could only manage a fourth round run at the Australian Open in his 2018 opener, after which he underwent surgery on the elbow problem that has forced him to miss the second half of last season, but that has not had the desired impact, as the former No. 1 has won just three matches in the five tournaments he has played since returning from that minor operation.

He suffered opening round exits at Indian Wells, Miami and Barcelona, put together two solid wins in Monte Carlo before losing to Dominic Thiem, while he was taken out by Kyle Edmund in Madrid. 

Djokovic could be at risk of another early exit in Rome, where he takes on the enigmatic Ukrainian, Alexander Dolgopolov in his opening match on Monday.

Dolgopolov has also had his injury set backs over the years, which have played a key role in the so far non-fulfillment of his undoubted potentials. 

While he didn’t play anywhere near consistently enough last year, the dangerous Dolgopolov still managed to sneak in a couple of excellent results, for instance- he won Buenos Aires, beating Kei Nishikori in the final, he was runner-up in Bastad and Shenzhen, and made a solid Round of 16 at the Australian Open in Shanghai. Make no mistake, this guy can definitely play!

Dolgopolov reached the third round in Brisbane in his first tournament of the 2018 season, beating Diego Schwartzman and Horacio Zeballos before losing to eventually champion, Nick Kyrgios. He reached the third round of the Australian Open, losing to Schwartzman, before a wrist injury forced him to miss the rest of a promising hard-court season, and the start of the clay court season. It took him over 2 months to get back to playing, making his ATP re-appearance in Marrakech, where he fell to Andrea Arnaboldi in straight sets. He has got a chance to register his first victory since January’s Australian Open when he plays a wobbly Djokovic on Monday.

Dolgopolov does not have the best record in Rome, where his best result till date was a third-round run in 2013, and he has failed to cross the first round in five of his seven previous main draw appearances, including in each of the last two years. 

Dolgopolov is not only on a three-match losing streak in Rome, he has also lost all five previous matches against Novak Djokovic. One of those wins were in Rome, where the Serbian allowed the underdog only five games. The better news for Dolgopolov is that he has taken a set off the 12-time Grand Slam champion in three of their last four matches.

When Dolgopolov’s maverick, explosive game clicks, he is a very dangerous customer, and I’m not sure he is the kind of opponent Djokovic wants to be playing this early in his current state. Given that the Serbian has been beaten by Taro Daniel, Benoit Paire, Kyle Edmund and Martin Klizan since the start of March, Dolgopolov should be fancy his chances of having a shot at the vulnerable Serbian. However, Rome often brings out the best in Djokovic, and if he finds anything close to his best form, he will be just too good for Dolgopolov, like has been the case over the years.

Novak Djokovic vs Alexandr Dolgopolov is live from Rome on Monday, 14 May from 3:00pm local time/ 2:00pm BST

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Novak Djokovic vs Alexandr Dolgopolov ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Djokovic faces mercurial Dolgopolov in tricky Rome opener

Novak Djokovic begins his quest for a first Rome title on Monday when he takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov. Can the Serbian avoid another opening round exit? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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