12:30 – Hanescu v Gulbis
Rankings are 51 and 24. They haven’t played before.
Gulbis is ahead in just about every stats category apart from break points saved.
Having said that its hard to know how a player will start the season.
I expect this to be quite a close match. If Gulbis starts the match serving well then backing him on serve is an option.
Hanescu often starts the year slowly and is more of a clay courter but he is capable of taking this match if Gulbis is a little below par.
I think the difference between the players will be Gulbis’ serve. If he serves well he wins.
Update: Gulbis won 6-3, 7-6.
14:30 – Nieminen v Przysiezny
Rankings are 39 and 86. Nieminen leads the head to heads 1-0 which was a 5 set Davis cup match in March 2010.
Przysiezny retired from a couple of matches in November ( one of them being a Challenger Tour Final at the end of the season)
Przysiezny has a decent serve but is weak on return of serve.
If Nieminen’s prep for the season has gone well and he is fighting fit then he wins this fairly easily.
His price of 1.34 is probably a fair reflection of his chances but I’ll want to see how he starts before backing. If he starts well then back him and green up after the set.
Update: Nieminen won 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
16:30 – Troicki v Stakhovsky
Rankings are 28 and 46. Head to heads are 1-1.
Troicki had a great season in 2010 and ended with a strong performance in the Davis Cup Final. He is one player I expect to improve his ranking in 2011.
Stakhovsky didn’t have the season that he looked capable of. He didn’t end the year well and will be keen to start 2011 well to help his confidence. I don’t think this is a good game for him to start with.
Stakhovsky may take a few games to find his touch around the net and I expect Troicki to take advantage of a slow start.
Troicki won 80% of his service games in 2010. Stakhovsky won 77%.
Back Troicki on serve. Against lower ranked players he is fairly solid when he has a lead.
Update: Troicki won 6-4, 7-5.