Oz Open – Week1, Wednesday night

Midnight – Becker v Dolgolpolov

Ranking are 55 and  46. Head to heads are 1-0 to Becker but that was over 4 years ago.

Dolgopolov started getting a lot of attention last year with some impressive performances. He has improved his consistency and is becoming more reliable. He had a straight forward 3 sets win in the last round.

Becker wasn’t expected to beat Gulbis and to beat him in 3 sets will have raised a few eyebrows. Often after a big win a player suffers a lack of form/intensity in the next round and its noticeable that Becker has this problem.

Both have strong serves when on form an I expect atight set. Wait a couple of games to let them settle and then back both on serve.

I have to go with Dolgopolov for the win.

 

 

07:00 – Isner v Stepanek

Rankings are 20 and 66. Head to heads are 1-0 to Stepanek.

Isner’s obvious strength is his first serve and over the last month he has held serve 90% of the time. His second serve is vulnerable with him winning  just  47% of points on it. He has been suffering with a shoulder injury which he uses pain killers for during matches.

Stepanek is an excellent returner of serve and he wil look to put pressure on if Isner’s first serve fails.

I watched Isner’s match against Haase in the Heineken Open. Isner won the match in 3 sets but in the opening set and a half I don’t think I have seen a worse performance from a top player. His first serve wasn’t working aand it seemed to destroy his confidence. He has improved a little in the 2 matches since then but he clearly has issues.

This is a tough match to predict but I expect Stepanek to try to put Isner under pressure from the first point. Its not unusual for Isner to struggle in his first service game.

We should see at least 4 sets and am slightly leaning towards Stepanek. If he can get under Isner’s skin early on then he has the experience to grind the American down.

For Isner to have  a chance he needs to have a very high first serve percentage. Wait 2 or 3 games to get a feel for the form but if Isner’s first serve looks unreliable then back Stepanek as he will be more likely to break serve. If both are serving well then backing both or either on serve is fine as we will probably get a tie break. Stepanek holds serve 80% of th time.

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