By Mauro Cappiello

At the very last moment, someone must have told Mayor Gianni Alemanno that the Trevi Fountain was not the best location for the draw ceremony of the “Internazionali”, the Rome Masters that will start tomorrow. With all the tourists of a Saturday morning and the people come for tennis, that little square would have risked an explosion. That’s why the event was moved to the Maxxi, the Museum of Arts of the 21st century, which is not very far from the Olympic Stadium and the Foro Italico. Needless to say, the setting was not as suggestive as last year, when a lot more people were attracted by the Spanish Steps, a big media promotion and also by Andy Murray and Ana Ivanovic.

The other Serb Jelena Jankovic, twice a champion here in Rome, was the only international star this year, even though, due to their early exits in Madrid, super champions like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were already in Rome. She arrived at the museum carried by a double-decker city sightseeing bus, along with the journalists and the other players Andreas Seppi, Fabio Fognini, Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci. Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi and ever-lasting local heroes of the last century Nicola Pietrangeli and Lea Pericoli were also there.

Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta, Jelena Jankovic, Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi

Jelena Jankovic

Right from Jelena’s hands came off the news that the organizers were not hoping for. The two best ranked Italian players, Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini, will meet in the first round, just like in Monte Carlo. This time, the winner will play Rafael Nadal… At least we’ll have a packed Centre Court in the first or second day of the tournament, as noticed by Massimo Caputi, master of the ceremony and media officer at the Italian Tennis Federation.

Andreas Seppi

Actually, there was no need for an Italian “derby” in the early days to sell tickets, because the Centre Court and the Supertennis Arena (the new 4000 seat stadium, inaugurated last year) are already sold out, in spite of an aggressive policy by the Federation that has seen the tickets more than double their price since the tournament has been turned into a combined event.

It must be said that the Rome Masters has grown a lot in reputation, compared to the 90’s and the early 2000’s. Some top players skip Monte Carlo and some have criticized Madrid (especially last year), but nobody wants to miss Rome, the last big tune-up event before the French Open and the more probative one, because the conditions of play are very similar to those in Paris. A new free TV channel, Supertennis, owned by the Italian Federation, broadcasts the entire women’s tournament and that contributed to make the event more popular among the young generations.

Roberta Vinci

Andreas Seppi

That’s also why people are willing to pay 50 euros for a Thursday daily session ticket on the Center Court “Tribuna Internazionale Sud” booked via Internet, while they could have that same ticket at the tournament office at the entrance for 20 euros until some years ago, when the event was held over two weeks and the Stadium was not yet “one of the best for tennis”, as some players praised it.
But if you’re looking for that ticket now, your only chance is eBay or to find someone who sells it before the gates. Don’t expect a lower price, though…
Else, you can still find tickets for the grounds, which are always the best place to have a closer view of the players and take better pictures. If you are lucky enough, you can see the big champions practice and even speak some words with them.

More pics of this year’s draw on Flickr. Enjoy some pics and video of Rome Masters 2012 draw ceremony.

Serena Williams captured a record 6th Miami title, her 48th WTA title, by defeating Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-3 6-0. Serena hasn’t lost to Sharapova since 2004 in Los Angeles, that’s 12 wins in a row!

Miami men's winner?

  • Novak Djokovic (35%, 21 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (25%, 15 Votes)
  • Juan Martin Del Potro (20%, 12 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (8%, 5 Votes)
  • Other (7%, 4 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Janko Tipsarevic (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 60

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Miami women's winner?

  • Serena Williams (50%, 31 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (31%, 19 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (11%, 7 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Li Na (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Sara Errani (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Other (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 62

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From Sharapova solid victory over Wozniacki …

to Rafa’s unexpected triumph

All Indian Wells 2013 posts:
Who will win Indian Wells 2013?
Men’s recap part 1: opening rounds
Men’s recap part 2: 4th round and quarterfinals
Men’s recap part 3: Rafa beats Del Potro

The WTA will honor four decades of growth and achievements throughout 2013 with a season-long integrated marketing campaign named 40 LOVE, which was launched this week in Indian Wells.

The WTA will honor historic milestones, headlined by a celebration of women’s tennis and the champions of the WTA at an event that will include the gathering of former World No.1s in London.
The WTA also launched a new, special anniversary 40 LOVE logo to celebrate four decades of women’s tennis.