Lots of matches to get our teeth into today.
Two big names meet in the first round as Simon takes on Andy Roddick. The American leads the head to head 2-1 but they have never played on clay. Roddick hates the clay although he has reached the quarter finals twice and the semi finals twice in Rome. He has played just 1 match on clay in the last 6 months which was in Madrid last week. He was beaten by Cipolla in 3 sets.
Simon has been in pretty good form on the clay though it has to be noted he doesn’t traditionally do well in Rome.
I’ll be waiting to see how the courts are playing and how Roddick is serving. As far as I can tell the courts in Rome are a lot slower than in Madrid ( which woudn’t be difficult ) and this favours Simon as a massive part of Roddick’s game is his serve. Without it he’s like a fish out of water.
Malisse and Garcia Lopez are next up. G-L is favourite on Betfair at 1.40 which seems a little short. He won their only match on clay. He beat De Bakker and Wawrinka last week although De Bakker lost badly yesterday and Wawrinka was beaten by Dustin Brown recently! Malisse has been in respectable form and I expect him to push the Spaniard quite close so a lay of Garcia Lopez looks favourable. G-L is definitely the better claycourter but I don’t think he’ll get everything his own way.
World number 11 Mardy Fish is an underdog on Betfair at 2.28 against Giraldo. They have played once on clay which was in the Davis cup last year. It went to 5 sets with Fish taking the final set 8-6. Fish certainly prefers the hard courts and Giraldo is an excellent claycourt player but those prices are very tempting! I’ll see how they start but if Fish seems to be up for the match I’ll be backing him.
Stakhovsky must be in with a good chance against Hanescu. The slower clay will favour Hanescu but Stakhovsky has found some form recently and he is a confidence player. Hanescu hasn’t really performed in recent weeks.
Monfils v Nishikori: Monfils retired from his last match so be careful here. Nishikori lost the opening set in his qualifying match yesterday to a player ranked 150 places below him. This might be a match to avoid.
Troicki and Davydenko have played once on clay and it was the Russian who won though it was 2 years ago. Davydenko won the BMW Open a couple of weeks ago and then lost in the first round in Madrid to Granollers. Which Davydenko will turn up today? A tournament win must signify that he is back to some sort of form, surely?
Troicki reached the quarter finals in Monte Carlo but other than that he hasn’t had much recent success. This is another match to wait for a few games before getting involved but I expect Davydenko to take it. Incidentally I am sure I saw Davy while watching an episode of Walking Dead on Channel 5 last night……
Starace must fancy his chances against Dolgopolov. Dolgopolov’s form seems to gone into decline over recent weeks. He has had some health problems. With local support for Starace the Italian has to be decent value at 1.83 . When the market opened it was Dolgopolov who was slight favourite on Betfair.
Finally its Baghdatis against Tsonga. The Frenchman starts as strong favourite. They have never played on clay. Just when you think Baggy is finding some consistency he falls apart. Tsonga’s recent form has been much the better of these two but 1.40 seems too low to back. I think I’ll be waiting for a better price before getting involved. Ideally i will have had a good day by then and will have quit for the day 🙂