Rafael Nadal will commence his title charge in Rome against fellow countryman Nicolas Almagro. With a clean sweep of titles on clay in sight, Nadal would want to intimidate his fellow contenders even more with a dominant display against Almagro. There is no doubt that Almagro will be put to the sword by a merciless Nadal.
Nadal has had a fairy tale season so far, at least on clay, and would want to secure a quick win against Almagro. The king of clay has neither shown signs of any fatigue, nor any weakness to exploit, as he continues to pile up wins and titles on clay for fun. The closest competitor to Nadal, Novak Djokovic was comprehensively beaten in the semi finals of the Madrid Open, as Nadal marched on to the podium with the trophy later. With an incredible 88% service games won, Nadal is yet to lose on clay this season, and as acknowledged by his peers, has one hand on the French Open trophy already.
Almagro on the other hand, would take positives out of his match against Djokovic in R64 of the Madrid Open, which he lost, but not before pushing the Serb to his limits. The world No. 73, has won all his 13 titles on clay, and would want to stall an imminent Rafa victory for as long as possible, while charging for an upset.
The Spanish duo have faced off 15 times, with Nadal overpowering Almagro 14-1. Nadal has a 10-1 record against Almagro on clay, with their previous meeting in the 2016 Rio Open, where Nadal emerged victorious 6-3, 7-5. Nadal is yet to drop a set against Almagro since his defeat to him in the 2014 Barcelona Open.