Stakhovsky v M Gonzalez: If we look for motivation here is lies with the Argentinian. He reached the third round last year so has points to defend. Stakhovsky hasn’t had a great clay court season and will have one eye on the American hard courts where his big serve should bring more rewards. Worth a lay at 1.56 on Stakhovsky.
Update: Well I got that one wrong! Stak broke straight away having held to 0 in his own first game. Gonzalez did break early in the second set but was broken bak. Stak wins 6-2, 6-3.
Giraldo will have a great chance against Nieminen who hasn’t played on clay since the French Open. They have played once before in Rome last year and Giraldo won in 3 sets. He reached the quarter finals last week and narrowly lost to Kubot in 3 sets.
Nieminen reached the third round last year. On his blog he talks about being hungry to get back on a tennis court after a good rest. He is very difficult to predict. When you expect him to play well he doesn’t and when you expect him to be hopeless he plays well! On current form you’d have to go with Giraldo. However if Nieminen is as eager to get back as he claims he might make the stronger start. I give a slight edge to Giraldo but I think we’ll be able to get on him at higher odds.
Update: Nieminen did make the best start and once he was ahead he stayed there. He won 6-4, 6-3.
Onto the hard courts and Blake takes on Gulbis in Atlanta. Gulbis leads the head to heads 2-0 and those were during the period when Blake was nearer the top 10 than top 100. Gulbis has been so bad recently though losing his last 4 matches. Blake is slight favourite on betfair at 1.78 and he won the Challenger event a week ago. Gulbis must be so low on confidence at the moment and whilst he beat the American in America in their last match he was a different player then.
Small back on Blake from the start.
Update: Some decent tennis played in amongst the shanks and mis-hits. Blake won 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.