Three to See, Rome: Kyrgios, Sharapova, Murray in action Tuesday

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If Fognini were playing Murray on a clay court anywhere outside of Rome, you’d probably like his chances. (AP)

Each day this week, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches at the Italian Open.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Roberto Bautista Agut

Here’s a tough first-rounder: Kyrgios, No. 16, vs. Bautista Agut, No. 18. The Australian won their only meeting, on a hard court in Tokyo two years ago, in straight sets. Doing that again on clay will be a tougher ask, but whatever the surface, the result will likely reside on Kyrgios’ racquet. If he’s up for it, he’s the favorite, but if he’s not ... he’s not.

Winner: Bautista Agut

Maria Sharapova [WC] vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni [16]

These two met last week in Madrid, and Sharapova bounced back from a first-set defeat to win the third set at love. Lucic-Baroni, who beat Lucie Safarova in three sets on Monday, has the stature and power to stay with Sharapova from the ground for a while. But Sharapova, a three-time champion in Rome, likes these courts as well as any others.

Winner: Sharapova

Andy Murray [1] vs. Fabio Fognini

If Fognini were playing Murray on a clay court anywhere outside of Rome, you’d probably like his chances. He beat Murray on dirt in Davis Cup three years ago, and he had him down again on hard courts at the Rio Olympics last summer. Plus, Murray is still trying to find his way into the 2017 season. But Fognini is 5-9 at the Foro Italico for his career; being the home-crowd favorite obviously doesn’t do anything for his game, or his nerves.

Winner: Murray


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