Youzhny v Gil:
They have never played.
Youzhny doesn’t have a great record in Monte Carlo. He lost in the first round in each of the last 2 years and you have to go back to 2007 for his last main draw win. That was when Carlos Moya retired in the second set.
Gil came through qualifying last year to get to the quarter finals where he lost to Andy Murray. He beat Monfils, Mayer, Stakhovsky and Cipolla in previous rounds.
This year he has also had to get through the qualification rounds and had a tough last match against Steve Darcis which was settled by a third set tie break.
Youzhny looked to be finding some form winning the title in Zagreb in January. He pulled out of his second round match with Federer in Rotterdam. In Dubai he got past Gasquet ( retired) and Mardy Fish before losing to Federer in straight sets. He hsn’t played since then.
Youzhny often starts slowly and needs 3 sets to win his matches. I think the slow start is quite possible today. Gil has played 2 matches on these courts already and Youzhny has to be a little rusty not having played since February.
Some people think Gil will be tired after his long match with Darcis but he has had a day to recover so that shouldn’t be an issue.
Youzhny starts at 1.57 and that has to be a lay for me against an experienced clay courter with 2 wins under his belt already.
Update: Gil won 6-1, 6-3.
Wawrinka v Lopez:
Head to heads are 1-1. They have never played on clay.
Lopez has only reached the second round once in the last 4 years which was last year. The draw hasn’t been kind to him though with his losses coming to Ferrer ( twice), Berdych and Murray.
Wawrinka didn’t play last year but the two previous years saw him reach the 3rd round and semi finals. Both times he was knocked out by Djokovic. He played the clay events on South America during February and reached two semi finals.
Lopez reached the semi finals in Houston last week losing a tough 3 set match with Isner. He is serving extremely well although the slower courts this week will reduce the effect of the serve’s power.
1.51 for Wawrinka does seem a little short although there’s a chance Lopez will have heavy legs after last week. The clay courts aren’t the easiest to play long matches on.
I want to see how they start. Wawrinka has had knee problems which aren’t helped by his excess weight. The winner plays Nadal in the next round so Lopez may not be too motivated to fight with few points to defend and aching legs from last week.
Wawrinka is the better clay court player but will struggle with the Lopez serve.
Definitely one to assess in play but Wawrinka has a slight edge for me with the better record in Monte Carlo.
Update: Wawrinka won 6-1, 6-4.