Lopez v Nieminen:
Nieminen leads the head to heads 6-1. Their most recent match was at this tournament in 2009 and Lopez won easily in 2 sets.
Lopez came through his last match against Cipolla in straight sets. The first set was very close ( I didn’t follow the 2nd) but Lopez always looked like getting the break through.
Nieminen needed 3 sets to beat Eduardo Schwank. Anyone with wank in their name should never be taking you to 3 sets even if clay is their favourite surface.
Lopez reached the semi finals of the US Mens Claycourt Championships where he lost in 3 sets to Isner. His serve has been working well and he will certainly need that today. Despite the head to heads he is playing in front of a home crowd. He reached the quarter finals last year. Nieminen had to get through the qualifying rounds in 2011 but then lost to Berlocq in the first round.
Lopez is currently 1.73 and I will be backing him from the start. I will be holding a little stake back to add if I can get a price over evens.
Update: Lopez won 6-3, 6-1.
Medina Garrigues v Halep:
They have played just once before which was almost exactly a year ago. That was also on clay and went to M-G in 2 tie break sets.
Halep has been in pretty decent form. Going back to Dubai in February she has lost just 3 matches on the hard courts which were to Bartoli, Sharapova and Wozniacki. On the clay she reached the quarter finals in Barcelona where she was beaten by Suarez Navarro.
Medina Garrigues’ results aren’t quite so good and she has faltered whenever she has faced a decent opponent. She has a good record at this tournament winning the title in 2009 and being runner up in 2008. She has been given a wild card entry this year and is seeded 1.
Halep has lost in the final for the last 2 years so she would appear to like the conditions. This will be a tight match but Halep has the edge. She is currently 1.82 on Betfair. Medina Garrigues often has a poor start especially on her own serve so I will have part stake on Halep from the start. I will manage the position in play but will add to the back bet if I can get Halep over 2.20 .
Update: In the early games the market was favouring M-G and I layed her at around 1.75 when Halep was struggling to hold. However she did hold and broke serve twice in that set.
Halep won 6-2, 6-1.