11:00 – Schukin v Gil
Rankings are 147 and 83. They haven’t played before.
Schukin beat Golubev in the last round but it happens so often that when a player wins a tournament they go out of the next one very early. Still a very good result for the Russian.
Gil beat Robredo in the last match. Robredo should have won that match but fell apart in the third set with Gil taking it 6-1.
Both players have spent most of their time recently on the Challenger tour and have both had good runs regularly reaching the latter stages.
I have looked at stats for the last 3 months and only on clay. Schukin has quite a big first serve that wins him 71% of points. Unfortunately he only hits it 58% of the time. Points won on second serve are a respectable 57%.
Gil’s first serve percentage is 66% and he wins 66% of points on it. His second serve wins the point 52% of the time.
They hold serve 78% and 76% of the time respectively.
Its on return of serve where we see the big difference. Gil wins 36% of points against a first serve and 55% against second serves. Schukin wins 30% against first serves and 45% against second serves.
Both can serve well but Schukin relies more on his first serve winning the point. If it doesn’t then Gil will get on top.
Back Gil on serve. If he continues to return well then I expect him to take the match but Schukin’s big first serve could keep this close.
Update: Poor performance from Gil. Schukin won 6-3, 6-3.
14:00 – Chardy v Nieminen
Rankings are 69 and 59. Head to heads are 1-0 to Nieminen. ( which was on a hard court and 3 years ago).
Chardy beat Mathieu comfortably in the last round losing just 4 games in the match.
Nieminen beat Alves in 3 sets and by his own admission it was “winning ugly”. He broke his opponent’s serve 6 times but was broken 5 times himself. He has a very consistent first serve at 70% but it often has little bite. He does hold serve 76% of the time but Chardy should be able to take advantage of the weaker serves and definately of the second serves which occasionally barely make it over the net.
Nieminen is much happier on faster courts. Chardy is more at home on clay.
Chardy holds serve 78% of the time and has been in better form than his opponent. He is a much smarter player and I expect him to take the match without too much trouble.
Either back him on serve or from the start.
Update: Chardy won 7-5, 6-2.