Part of the Italian Open will be played on the streets of the nation’s capital, event organisers announced this week.

According to reports, organisers plan to turn the historic Piazza del Popolo into an open-air tennis court for the sporting event.

One of the ancient gateways to Rome, the piazza will host pre-qualifying matches – beginning on  May 5 –  before the tournament begins, said the head of the Italian Tennis Federation, Angelo Binaghi.

The rest of the tournament, which takes place this year from May 7 to 20, will be played on the clay courts of the Foro Italico, just like previous years.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi, Mr Binaghi said that organisers are planning for full days of play “right in the square that perhaps symbolises the heart of our capital more than any other”. 

It has not yet been confirmed whether the matches in the piazza will be ticketed or free to the public.

Some of tennis’s biggest names are already confirmed to contend in this year’s Italian Open, including new mother Serena Williams, Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, as well as home-grown contenders Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani.