Some decent players in this event. I haven’t found what scoring format they will be using but as they seem to be playing just 1 match each a day I am assuming it is normal rules in the first 2 sets. Whether the deciding set is a first to 10 point tie break or another normal set remains to be seen.
EDIT: They are playing a tie break to 10 points in place of a third set.
Exhibition = REDUCED STAKES!
Rublev (1.31) v Struff (3.7)
Due to start at 12:00
Struff leads their previous matches 2-1. Their most recent meeting was on an indoor hard court in St Petersburg in September 2018. Struff won in 2 very tight sets. Rublev’s win was on a hard court in 2017. Struff won on clay in May 2016 at the French Open. He won the qualifying round match in 2 sets.
Overall results in the last 12 months and also in 2020 strongly favour Rublev who is ranked at a career high 14th in the world.
On paper there isn’t too much between their clay experience although Rublev has improved his clay game a great deal in the last year or so. He reached the final in Hamburg in July last year. He won all 3 of his matches at the infamous Adria Cup last month. He has completed a 14 day quarantine period and has had 3 negative tests for Covid-19. Those were the only matches that he has played during lockdown.
Struff has also played just 1 event during the pandemic. That was at the beginning of June in Germany. He was up against much lower ranked players. He lost just 1 of his 4 matches although the defeat was against a player ranked 637th in the world.
This looks like a comfortable win for Rublev. Struff may lift his game now that he is up against stronger opposition. He did reach the 4th round of last year’s French Open where he beat Coric in 5 sets.
We need Rublev to make a slow start. Even if he is broken early the price may not move out enough. Back Rublev if he gets broken AND Struff holds his own serve.
Update: A very tight match. Struff broke first but Rublev broke straight back. Another late break gave Struff the chance to serve out the set. He had to save break points but eventually closed out set 1. A late break in set 2 gave it to Rublev. The deciding set was a match tie break to 10 points. Rublev saved 2 match points but eventually won it 15-13.
Thiem (1.15) v Ruud (4.9)
Due to start at 1:30 pm
This will be their first meeting.
Thiem won the Adria Cup beating Dimitrov and Krajinovic. He has played 19 matches during the pandemic and has lost just 2. Last week he beat Berrettini and Goffin in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown.I didn’t watch it but the format seems to have been that they play for a fixed time and whoever is in the lead when the time is up wins the set.
Ruud is playing his first match since the beginning of March. It looks like he has replaced Coric in this event.
Both players have excellent clay results. Ruud won the title in Buenos Aires in February. He also reached the semi finals in Kitzbuhel in July last year. Thiem won the title in Kitzbuhel and made the final of the French Open where he beat Djokovic in the semi final.
This will be tough for Ruud. He has got to be rusty. We can try a small lay at 1.10 and remove liability at 1.20. It should be straight sets for Thiem if he is focused. I suppose he may be distracted as he has organised this event. He could have other things on his mind if there have been any issues behind the scenes.
Berrettini (1.34) v Novak (3.75)
Due to start at 3 pm
This will be their first meeting.
Overall results in the last 12 months are slightly better for Novak although most of his stronger results were in Challengers. Berrettini has the higher ROI in the last year.
Longer term clay results are much stronger for Berrettini but he has not played on clay since the French Open defeat to Casper Ruud in May 2019.
Ruud has played a lot of matches on clay during the pandemic although most were against much lower ranked opponents. That will have helped him blow away the cobwebs and build up some match fitness. At the end of last month he played Thiem and kept both sets tight losing 7-6, 6-4. His most recent match was last week when he beat 715th ranked Lenny Hampel in a third set tie break.
Berrettini has played 4 Ultimate Tennis Showdown events during lockdown. He was up against decent opposition which will have helped him to get ready for the main tour restarting. The UTS are played with a changed format where each set lasts a fixed time period and who leads at the end of the allowed time wins the set. All those events were played on hard courts.
As this is his first clay match for over a year Berrettini may take a little time to adjust his game. Match play is very different from practice sessions.
Lay Berrettini around 1.25 and remove liability around 1.50. Back Berrettini if he loses set 1.
Khachanov (2.62) v Bautista Agut (1.48)
Due to start at 5:30 pm
Bautista Agut leads their previous matches 4-2. They met 3 times in 2019. Bautista Agut won on grass in July and on a hard court in January. Khachanov won their only clay meeting that season in Rome in May. He also won their only other clay match in Barcelona in 2016. Both their clay matches went to 3 sets.
Overall results are much stronger for Bautista Agut in the last 12 months and also in 2020. He is fairly consistent in his clay results without any amazing success. He reached the third round at the French Open last year.
Khachanov reached the quarter finals at the French Open and also the third round in Rome.
Bautista Agut has played just 2 matches during the Covid-19 crisis. Both were on clay at the start of June. He beat Pablo Andujar and Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets.
Khachanov has not played a match since his quarter final finish in Dubai in February. He hasn’t played on clay since the French Open in May.
This should be a close match and we have a decent chance of seeing 3 sets.
If Bautista Agut breaks first lay him and remove liability if Khachanov breaks back. Back Bautista Agut if he goes a break behind or if he loses set 1. He should be a little better prepared for this match.