13:30 – Starace v Gabashvili
Rankings are 55 and 102. Head to heads are 3-2 to Starace, however all 3 of Starace’s wins came on clay.
Starace is a definate clay court specialist and other than the majors he tries to play exclusively on clay. Since the US Open he has reached a final and a quarter final in Challenger events and also reached the quarter final in Romania ( all on clay).
Gabashvili has had virtually no success recently and in the last 3 months he has won just 4 matches from 11 including matches on the Challenger tour. His confidence has to be low.
Gabashvili has a better record on indoor hard courts over their careers.
Both have decent stats on serve and have held serve 80% and 79% over the last 3 months ( although against weaker opposition so bear that in mind. I guess they cancel each other in that respect!)
As a clay courter I would expect Starace to perhaps be the more consistent and could frustrate Gabashvili. Gabashvili is playing in front of his home crowd which should give him a lift but he will need his serve to be effective to shorten the points. If this develops into a base line battle it has to favour the Italian.
If Gabashvili serves well throughout the match he has the edge needed to win. Add that to home advanatge and that makes him my favourite.
An Italian against a Russian in Russia. Expect to hear a lot of “fix” claims this week.
Wait to see how they start but both have a serve thats worth backing. Firtly look to back Gabashvili on serve as he is my pick to win.
Update: Starace won 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.