18:00 – Malisse v Sweeting
Rankings are 45 and 91. Head to heads are 1-0 to Malisse.
Both players are in decent form.
Malisse hasn’t progressed far in tournaments this season but has been unlucky to meet Tsonga, Devvarman and Raonic.
Sweeting plays in front of a home crowd which may remember Malisse being annoyed at the crowd in Indian Wells and he was clearly heard to say to a spectator, ” Hey, cowboy! Would you mind shutting your face?”. Sweeting reached the quarter finals of the Delray Beach event and reached the third round last week where he lost to Nadal.
Both are solid on serve. Malisse has the edge in the stats with 85% of service games held to Sweeting’s 78%. Sweeting has slightly better stats on return of serve. The American creates more break point chances but Malisse converts a higher percentage of his.
The fact that this is played in America makes these two just about level in my opinion. Malisse didn’t seem happy with life in Indian Wells so we could see another grumpy performance. If Sweeting can get his nose in front the crowd could do the rest.
Back both on serve in the first set. Avoid the games from 4-4 onwards. If the first set is close, lay the set winner.
Malisse should scrape through to the next round.
Update: Malisse didn’t get off to the best start when he lost his serve in the first game. But he fought back to take the set in a tie break and then finished a tight second set to win 7-6, 6-4.