ATP Rome second round preview: Milos Raonic - Nick Kyrgios

World number ten Milos Raonic and world number 20 Nick Kyrgios will do battle in a blockbuster second round clash at the BNL Internazionali d’Italia. The pair have already met once this year in Masters 1000 event, and will add yet another chapter to their rivalry on the dirt in Rome.

The match will be fourth on Pietrangeli Court on Wednesday.

How they got here

Kyrgios and Raonic had extremely different first round experiences. Kyrgios’ match was easy for the young Australian, as he beat Italian wild card Salvatore Caruso with the loss of only three games. Raonic, on the other hand, was pushed to the brink by another Italian wild card Marco Cecchinato. The Canadian held off an inspired Cecchinato, who battled to the last point, in three tight sets. Both men are coming off quarterfinal appearances in Madrid.

The History

Their head-to-head is tied 2-2, although Kyrgios has won their last two meetings. The Aussie defeated Raonic in two tight sets earlier this year in the quarterfinal of the Miami Open. He also defeated the Canadian in the third round of Wimbledon last year. Raonic’s last win over Kyrgios came back in 2013 when he beat the Aussie in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. He also won their lone clay court meeting, topping Kyrgios in straight sets at the 2013 French Open.

Which serve and forehand will be bigger?

These two men play very similar styles. They both rely on their big serves for easy points, and like to dominate rallies with their huge forehands. This means that points will probably be short and will either end with winners or a ton of errors. When it comes to the serve, there is little either of them can do to stop the other, as neither is particularly known for their return. The key will be which serve is more effective. In the rallies, the two will be trying to overpower each other, or outwit each other, with their forehands. It will be key for both of them to dominate this match-up.

Who will be more consistent?

Both Raonic and Kyrgios are known for inconsistency. The Canadian has been improving in terms of consistency of late, but that can leave him vulnerable to guys who can go big consistency. When Kyrgios is on his game, and his big shots are painting lines, he’s extremely dangerous. However, as easily as he can do damage with his shots, he can also miss by miles. If his shots are not finding their targets, Raonic will take advantage.

Prediction: Raonic in three sets

The surface will be the key to this. The slow clay in Rome gives a significant advantage to the slightly more consistent Raonic. It will be easier for the Canadian to draw errors and break down Kyrgios. While the Aussie can come out flying and dominate for a while, it will be tough for him to keep that level up long enough to succeed on this slow surface. Raonic has been working on his consistency this year, showing great improvement, and that should be the difference here.