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A pair of top ATP Tour stars continue their comebacks after long-term injury at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Monday, with Stan Wawrinka taking on Reilly Opelka and Dominic Thiem facing Fabio Fognini in first-round action at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

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[14] Reilly Opelka (USA) vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)

If their only previous tour-level meeting is anything to go by, Opelka and Wawrinka could well serve up a Monday classic at the Foro Italico. The pair played out a five-set thriller at Wimbledon in 2019, with Opelka taking the fifth set 8-6 on the grass.

The American has emerged as something of a clay-court dark horse in recent times, with his booming serve powering him to a maiden title on the red dirt in Houston in April. The 14th seed also enjoyed a strong run in Rome last year, reaching the semi-finals without dropping a set before falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

He takes on a former World No. 3 in Wawrinka who is playing just his second ATP Tour event after 13 months away due to a foot injury. Wawrinka has tasted Masters 1000 glory on the clay before, at Monte Carlo in 2014, and also has pedigree in the Italian capital, having reached the final in Rome in 2008.

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Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs. Fabio Fognini (ITA)

Thiem has shown flashes of his brilliant best in his three matches on Tour since returning from a wrist injury, and the Austrian will hope to put together a more complete performance at a tournament where he reached the semi-finals in 2017. Fognini’s 2022 season has been a mixed bag so far, with the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion 11-8 for the year, and he will want to bounce back strongly from a straight-sets loss to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round in Madrid.

Thiem leads Fognini 3-1 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, but the Italian’s sole victory came in Rome in 2018 and Fognini, one of the biggest showmen on Tour, has a history of upping his level in front of his home fans.

[13] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) vs. Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)

Shapovalov meets home favourite Sonego in a maiden ATP Head2Head meeting as the Canadian seeks to inject some momentum into his season. The 13th seed helped Team Canada to ATP Cup glory and reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January, but is 6-6 since.

Shapovalov was a semi-finalist in Rome in 2020, but his opponent on Monday matched that run a year later with Sonego upsetting Gael Monfils, Thiem and Andrey Rublev on the way to the final four in 2021. The Italian will look to home support for inspiration once again when he takes on Shapovalov in Grand Stand Arena.

Also In Action

A pair of young Italian wild cards take on Top 50 opponents on Monday as 20-year-old Giulio Zeppieri faces Karen Khachanov, with #NextGenATP 19-year-old Flavio Cobolli meeting Jenson Brooksby. Monte Carlo finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina looks to kick-start another deep run at Masters 1000 level when he takes on Ilya Ivashka, while Sebastian Korda faces a tough opponent in Munich finalist Botic van de Zandschulp. The man van de Zandschulp ousted in the first round in Madrid, 15th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, opens his campaign against Federico Delbonis.

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