2012 Rome Masters: Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic Preview

Shane LambertAnalyst IIMay 18, 2012

Roger Federer
Roger FedererClive Brunskill/Getty Images

The final four players in the Rome Masters draw has been set, and there's not really a surprise semifinalist in the quartet. In one semifinal Spaniards David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal will meet while the other semifinal will feature World No. 1 Novak Djokovic against World No. 2 Roger Federer.

Typically, the top players in the world cannot meet ahead of the final, however Federer only regained the World No. 2 ranking on Monday and by then the seeds for Rome were already set.

Federer holds a 14-10 edge on head-to-heads, but the vast majority of their matches have been on hard court. The two players have faced one another just four times on clay with Djokovic winning just one of those meetings - incidentally a match that took place in the Rome Masters semifinals in 2009.

The match is quite important for Federer if he aims to regain the World No. 1 ranking. Entering the tournament, Fed was within 2000 ranking points of Djokovic for the top spot. If Federer can block the Serb from winning the Rome Masters title, then the race for the top spot on tour will heat up heading into the French Open and Wimbledon.

In Rome, both players have played sharp and both are into the semifinals with very little drama or cause for concern. Federer dropped a set to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Round of 16 while Djokovic dropped a set to Juan Monaco. However, neither of the top two players faced a challenge in their deciding sets in those matches and their other matches were all routine.

Federer faces Djokovic perhaps at a bit of a disadvantage because the Swiss Maestro has not had much time to rest recently. Federer won the Madrid Masters last weekend after facing several tough opponents while Djokovic whimpered out of Madrid in the quarters. If fatigue or soreness is a factor in Saturday's semifinal then Djokovic should have the edge.

Bwin sportsbook has Djokovic at 11/13 (-118) while Federer comes is at 5/4 (+125) with Stan James, betting odds that overlay (the implied percentages based on the odds add up to a value lower than 100 percent). I expect both players to recognize that this is a very important match as far as the top spot on tour goes and as such both players promise to bring their most motivated tennis.

My prediction to win the match is Djokovic as he has played his best tennis in Rome on multiple occasions in the past, he's enjoyed recent success against Federer, Djokovic has not faced as many opponents as the Swiss Maestro has in the last two weeks and the Serb should be fresher.