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Rafael Nadal vs Damir Dzumhur ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Nadal looks to get back on track in Rome

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 16 May 2018
  • Rafael Nadal vs Damir Dzumhur is live from Rome on Wednesday, 16 May from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST
  • Nadal and Dzumhur are tied on 1-1 on head-to-head, but Dzumhur's win was via a Nadal retirement
Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

World number two, Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a record-breaking eight Rome Masters title on Wednesday when he takes on Bosnian, Damir Dzumhur in the second round.

Nadal is looking to return to winning ways after his 21-match, 50-set winning streak was snapped by Dominic Thiem in the quarter finals of the Madrid Open last week. Up until that point, the great Spaniard had looked unbeatable on clay, scything through the fields in Monte Carlo and Barcelona to claim his record-breaking eleventh title at both events. Nadal looked well on course for a clean sweep of his traditional European clay schedule of Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros, something he had never done before, but Thiem delivered a powerful performance in the altitude of Madrid to put paid to that prospect.

That loss in Madrid meant Nadal surrendered his No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer, but it took absolutely nothing away from what had been a magnificent run on clay. Most probably, there is still more to come. The Spaniard had missed over two months of action because of a thigh injury that forced his retirement from a quarter final meeting with Marin Cilic at the Australian Open, but he returned with a vengeance on clay, first to lead Spain past Germany in a Davis Cup quarter final tie in Valencia, before breezing through Monte Carlo and Barcelona. It was not to be in Rome, and the great man, never one to dwell too long on a poor result, has been quick to play down the loss, as he targets an immediate response in Rome. 

“There is not much time to think about what happened [in Madrid],” reflected Nadal. “I should [have] been playing better than what I did. I know what I did wrong, and I am going to try to change that for this week."

Overall, Nadal has a terrific record in Rome, but his recent record in the Italian capital is actually not as good as you might have thought. The 31-year-old has not won the title since 2013, and has exited the Foro Italico at the quarter final stage in each of the last three years. 

He will be keen to correct that this year, as he starts his campaign on Wednesday against Damir Dzumhur, who set up this meeting with an eye-catching 6-3 6-1 victory over Fernando Verdasco.

Dzumhur was particularly effective on big points against Verdasco, converting a perfect six of six break points, while saving five of the seven he faced. Verdasco broke early for the 2-0 lead, but the Spaniard didn't hold serve for the rest of the match, dropping his next four service games to conceded the set after 33 minutes. Both men held their opening service games of the second set, but that was as good as it got for Verdasco, as Dzumhur swept through five games in a row, calming serving out the win to love in just over an hour. 

Dzumhur had finished 2017 at a career-high ranking of 30, after a brilliant second half of the season that saw him win his first ATP titles in St. Petersburg and Moscow, reach the final in Winston-Salem, and semi-finals in Los Cabos and Shenzhen.

The 25-year-old had a decent enough opening to the new season, reaching the third round of the Australian Open, where he was beaten by Nadal, and making a couple of quarter finals in Montpellier and Marseille, but he soon embarked on a terrible run of form, which saw him lose six matches in a row between the second round in Dubai and the opening round in Istanbul. That run included opening round exits at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Budapest and Istanbul. He finally got back to winning ways in Madrid, beating Julian Benneteau in the first round, before falling to Juan Martin del Potro.

The Bosnian has notched up another win in Rome- the aforementioned victory over Verdasco- and now seeks back-to-back wins for the first time since February when he confronts the great Rafael Nadal. 

Dzumhur had beaten Nadal before, via retirement in Miami in 2016, but Nadal responded at the Australian Open earlier on the year, sparing the Bosnian just four games in a comfortable win. Dzumhur is an honest hardworking player but he lacks the firepower to trouble Nadal, especially on clay. Nadal should get through this one comfortably. 

Rafael Nadal vs Damir Dzumhur is live from Rome on Wednesday, 16 May from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST

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Rafael Nadal vs Damir Dzumhur ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Nadal looks to get back on track in Rome

Rafael Nadal begins his bid for an eighth Rome title when he takes on Damir Dzumhur on Wednesday. Will Nadal return to winning ways at the Foro Italico? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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