Tomic v Istomin:
Tomic won their only previous match in straight sets but that was on a hard court. He hates the clay and as Monte Carlo courts are on the slow side he won’t be looking forward to this week.
Istomin suffered with a shoulder strain last week which was probably caused by playing Davis Cup the previous weekend. He’s not used to playing top opponents at the weekend! He had won the first set against Andreev but the injury slowed him up enough for Andreev to take advantage.
Tomic’s last match on clay was at the French Open last year. He was ranked 180 at the time. Today he is ranked 36 and his game has developed almost beyond recognition in the last year so I think he will do a better job on the slow courts than people expect. His impatience could be his downfall as he can’t rely on big ground strokes to breeze past opponents on the clay.
I will wait to see how they start but as long as Istomin is not being affected by his shoulder then he has more experience on clay. I can also see Tomic getting frustrated when his normal hard court game doesn’t get the job done.
Istomin to win in 2 tight sets.
Update: Tomic has been working on his clay game. Good tactics overall althoughh he was helped by a poor match from Istomin.
Tomic won 6-4, 6-3.
Kohlschreiber v Ruffin:
They have never played. Kohlschreiber isn’t the worst clay courter around but tends to just play the German events and the French Open. He hasn’t played on clay since last July.
Ruffin has had to come through qualifying in Monte Carlo and has won both his matches in 3 sets against Bachinger and Rosol. He reached the semi finals of the Santiago Challenger tournament last month which was also on clay.
Kohlschreiber will need a few games to get used to the court but if he serves well he should easily get through his own service games intact. However I think we will see a higher price on the German during the first set which would be ideal as I see him coming through in the end.
There is the option to lay him from the start but I think we are getting 1.40 on Kohlschreiber due to him not having played on the dirt for so long. So if I am wrong that we will see a better back price on him then I have lost nothing if I keep my powder dry at the start and show some patience.
Update: Good plan. Ruffin played a decent match and led 4-2 in the first set. Kohlschhreiber rattled off the next 4 games to take the set. The second set was close with just a single break that went to Kohlschreiber.
Kohlschreibeer won 6-4, 6-4.