Paris Masters – Wednesday

9:30 – Stakhovsky v Cilic

Rankings are 55 and 15. They have played just once in the qualifying rounds at the French Open 2007 and Cilic won. Totally irrelevent to today’s match.

Stakhovsky has been in poor form lately but yesterday’s match against Marchenko saw him make a marked improvement in his serving and also his touch around the net.

Cilic is another player who is having a tough time and his confidence is way down. He relies on his big serve and it has been saving him a lot lately as his ground strokes have been fragile..

Serves over the last month have been held 82% and 86%. Stakhovsky has better stats against serve and especially against first serves.

Stakhovsky will have gained a lot of confidence from the way he played yesterday although at times Marchenko made it easy for him.

Cilic didn’t play badly in Basel last week and lost to Nalbandian in the second round when he had taken the opening set. When the Argentinian started to come back then Cilic’s low confidence took over.

I can see Cilic making a slow start and Stakhovsky riding  his own confidence at least in the opening set so laying Cilic from the start is an option. Once we see who is serving best we can back them which could see us backing both on serve.

We could well see a three setter and I give a slight edge to Stakhovsky.

Update: Cilic won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.



15:30  Isner v Llodra

Rankings are 19 and 34. Head to heads are 1-0 to Isner which was in Basel last week. He won in 3 sets.

They start pretty much even on Betfair with Llodra at 1.90 probably due to home advantage.

Everyone knows about Isner’s serving ability but his return of serve can let him down at times. His recent results haven’t been bad at all.

After losing in the first round in Shanghai Llodra played a Challenger event. He reached the semi final there but really should have taken the title. His win yesterday was his first since that Challenger tournament so he will need all the support from the home crowd that he can get.

With serves being held 90% and 84% and Llodra being the better returner and playing at home, it only takes a little lapse in concentration from Isner to give Llodra a lead.

Isner is starting to look a little weary as he has had an excellent year and that means he has played more tennis. Once he loses here this week he can put his feet up for a well earned rest.

Llodra needs to impress the French Davis Cup selectors if he is to be included in the final so I think he has more motivation.

Back both on serve but I expect Llodra to take a tight match.

Update: Llodra won 6-3, 6-4.

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