Istomin v J Sousa
Sousa plays almost exclusively on clay and spends a lot of his time on the Challenger tour. Last month he won a title and had another quarter final appearance.
Istomin had a good win over Mathieu in the last round after 3 first round exits on the clay.
Istomin used to be one of the jokes of the tour but in the last few months has found some consistency and doesn’y choke away leads quite so often.
Sousa won’t make his task easy but there is a real gulf in class here.
Starting price is 1.64 on Istomin and that is worth a part stake back from the start until i can see how he is playing. Despite his lack of claycourt skills Istomin should have enough to get past Sousa.
Update: Istomin started as I expected and took the set. I didn’t follow the match after that first set but was surprised to see that Sousa took the second and was 4-2 up in the third. Istomin retired injured.
Sousa won 3-6, 6-3, 4-2(ret)
Nieminen v Veic:
They have never played.
Nieminen reached the third round in Barcelona where he lost quite tamely to Lopez in straight sets. He has been struggling to find any sort of form in recent weeks.
Veic won a Challenger event on clay a couple of weeks ago beating Kavcic in the semi final and Capdeville in the final. He again faced Kavcic in the last round here and beat him 6-1, 6-1.
Obviously Nieminen starts as favourite on the exchanges but I see this as being much more equal. Veic has been winning matches and even though they are against lower ranked players winning can be a habit.
I will be laying Nieminen in this one. If Veic can get his nose in front then lack of confidence on Nieminen’s part could make the Croatian’s job straight forward.
Update: The lay looked good in the first game when Veic had break point. He didn’t take it though and Nieminen won the first break. Nieminen was serving for the set but at 40-15 the match was stopped due to rain. They will continue on Friday.
The match resumed Friday and Nieminen took the set point. Veic fought back from a break down in the second set tolevel the match at 1-1. A close set went to Nieminen.
Nieminen won 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.