Friday’s matches, 17th Feb

Brazil Open 14:00

Almagro v Berlocq:

1st seed takes on 5th seed. They have played just once before which was in May last year. That was also on clay and a very tight match went Almagro’s way in 3 sets.

Berlocq is extremely consistent on clay and is able to win Challenger events almost at will. Howver when facing a top 20 player on clay he has lost the last 9 ( going back to 2006) and won only 2 from 10 against top 50 players.

Berlocq was in South America last week where he lost in the final to Monaco in Chile. Almagro had to travel from Spain where he was on Davis Cup duty and had a tough 3 setter with Hanescu yesterday. His first game after a long trip is often a below par one and I think that will have prepared him for the real test today.

Both players are perhaps more likely to start slowly than race away with the first set so I expect the opening set to be a nervy one with neither player wanting to make mistakes. From the second set onwards I think they will open up.

Almagro feels too low at 1.42 but I really can’t decide whether laying is a good idea. I am more likely to watch the opening games and hope to get a back bet in a bit higher. Nothing under 1.60 is likely to have me clicking that mouse.

I have to go with Almagro but we could see 3 sets.

Update: A little easier than expected for Almagro. 6-3, 6-2.


Brazil Open 23:00

L Mayer v Bellucci:

Argentinian against Brazilian in Brazil. I wonder if the crowd will make much noise for this one……

Mayer is the form player and has won 7 in a row in Brazil. He has also won 8 in a row when starting as underdog. In his 2 matches so far this week he has beaten Ferrero and also Chardy who knocked him out of the VTR open a couple of weeks ago.

Prior to this week Bellucci’s form has been pretty poor. He won his opening set against an apparently injured Mello 6-0 but lost the second 1-6 with some terrible errors. In the third it was Mello’s turn to make the mistakes and Bellucci came through to win.

The crowd may be a big factor if Bellucci goes behind as they will do all they can to intimidate Mayer. Mayer will get quite a few cheap points if his serve continues to be effective.

This is a tough one to predict. Form player against home player. I am leaning slightly towards Mayer for the win but I think things could get messy!

Update: Mayer took the first set. In the second bellucci broke twice to level the match. The thirrd set saw Mayer break in the very first game and he held onto that break until he served for the match at 5-4. He was broken and Bellucci won the next 2 games.

Bellucci won 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.

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