Internazionali BNL d'Italia (Italian Open)
Rome Masters, also known as the Italian Open or the Italian Championship, is one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments superseded only by the four Grand Slam tournaments. It is played on red clay courts, and on this surface its importance is second only to that of the Roland Garros tournament (The French Open).
The tournament is one of the very prestigious 9 tournaments that compose the ATP World Tour Masters 1000. These tournaments hold a lot of importance for tennis players, as success in them, aside from earning the winners big prizes, has a great impact on the players' ranking in the ATP ( Association of Tennis Professionals) ranking scale.
The Rome Masters is played in the first half of May of each year in the venue of the Foro Italico in Rome (Just near the Stadio Olimpico). Its main court has a capacity of 10,400 seats.
The tournament has been played since 1930, and was not always held in Rome. It started in Milan and over the years has been held also in Turin, Perugia and Taranto. The first male player to win it was the legendary American player, Bill Tilden. Many great players have played and won the tournament ever since. Jaroslav Drobný, born in Czechoslovakia and later becoming an Egyptian citizen, was the first player to win the title of Roman Masters Champion twice, consecutively, in 1950 and 1951; he also participated in the finals in the following two years, winning it yet again in 1953, thus becoming one of only a few to win the title 3 times. The others are the current title holder Novak Djokovic (2008, 2011, and 2014) and Marty Mulligan (1963, 1965, and 1967). Players that have won the tournament twice are: Nicola Pietrangeli, Rod Laver, Ilie Năstase, Björn Borg, Vitas Gerulaitis, Andrés Gómez, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier and Thomas Muster. But no other player has shown his dominance of the tournament like Rafael Nadal, having 7 Championship titles attached to his name. He and his clay-surface challenger Djocovic, met in the Rome Masters final 4 times, splitting the wins evenly between them (Nadal won in 2009 and 2012, Djocovic in 2011 and 2014). Roger Federer made it to the final game three times (in 2003, 2006 and 2013), but could not overcome Spanish Felix Mantilla and Nadal. The last Italian player to win the Italian Open Men Singles was Adriano Panatta in 1976.
The women's tournament also began in 1930. The first final saw Spanish Lili de Alvarez beating Italian Lucia Valerio, who went on to appear 4 more times in the final, winning it once. Successful players in the women's tournament are: Chris Evert (5 wins in 7 appearances in the final), Gabriela Sabatini, (4 wins in 6 appearances), Conchita Martinez (5 consecutive appearances in the final, 4 of which she won consecutively), Margarita Court (3 consecutive wins), Maria Bueno (3 wins), the current holder of the title, Serena Williams (3 wins), Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jancovic, Martina Hingis, Amélie Mauresmo, Leslie Turner Bowrey and Doris Hart (all with 2 wins). The last Italian player to win the women's title was Raffaella Reggi, in 1985.
The Rome Masters consists also of Men's Doubles and Women's Doubles, which were added in 1968. Current holders of these titles are Serbian Nenad Zimonjić and Canadian Daniel Nestor in the Men's Doubles, and Czech Květa Peschke and Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik in the Women's Doubles.
Rome Masters of 2015 will be played between May10th and May 17th.
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