The final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2013 sees Roger Federer take on Rafa Nadal for the 30th time in their careers. Rafa is looking for his 20th victory over Federer in what is an amazing eighth straight final for the Spaniard since coming back from injury. Nadal has only ever lost two matches here at the Foro Italico and is looking for a seventh Rome Masters title, while this is one tournament that has always eluded the Swiss maestro.
One of the most iconic rivalries in sport, I have written thousands of words about this particular match-up over the years and rarely do I have any real confidence that Federer will win – unless the match is played in suitable conditions for the Swiss.
That's not the case today, and it’s not as if Fed has been blazing a trail en route to the final in the Eternal City this week. He was unable to cover my –4.5 games handicap wager against Benoit Paire last night and if anything the Frenchman pretty much matched the Swiss maestro in all areas of the game other than the most important one - between the ears.
Federer also struggled against Jerzy Janowicz and had either Paire and Janowicz stuck to the games that had got them into winning positions initially we may have had a different final today.
Nadal, on the other hand, has been at his animalistic best at times this week, playing the best tennis I’ve seen from him for a while against Tomas Berdych yesterday to reach this final. We all know that this match-up is a nightmare for Federer, as the head-to-head and the match odds of 1.23 on Nadal suggest. Although it would be absurd to write Federer’s chances off in this, it’s impossible to bet on anything other a Rafa win with any confidence.
It may well go to three sets, as I’m sure Federer will come out all guns blazing. The 2.14 about Fed taking a set is tempting, but for me the most likely outcome is Nadal landing this title minus 4.5 games on the handicap.
Best bet: Back Nadal –4.5 games to beat Federer at 1.98