Thursday’s matches, 16th Feb

Brazil Open 14:00

Starace v Berlocq:

Starace leads the head to heads 8-0!  In Fact Berlocq has only taken 1 set in those 8 matches.

Berlocq’s game has improved a great deal since their last match in 2010. In cont5rast Starace is sliding lower from around 45 12 months ago to his current 76.

Both are clay specialists and Starace has won 6 of his last 7 on clay. Berlocq has won 20 of his last 21 on the dirt!

Starace didn’t look like a world beater in the last round against Capdeville. He needed a third set to secure the win and looked below par.

The head to heads could be a tough mental mountain to climb for Berlocq but he is currently the better player. Doubts have to enter your head when you have failed every time to beat the guy on the other side of the net. He starts at 1.55 on Betfair and there has to be a chance of that moving higher during the first set.

I think I will have a small back at the start of the match but look to add to the position if the price goes up during the set. A break point should see us approaching evens which has to be value on the Argentinian.

Update: Starace started stronger and probably due to the head to head record the market was soon strongly in his favour. He took the opening set but Berlocq was much the stronger player for the rest of the match and won in 3 sets.

Berlocq won 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.


Brazil Open 23:00

Nalbandian v Simon:

What on Earth is Gilles Simon doing in Brazil??

They have never met on clay but their head to heads are 1-1. Both matches were 3 setters.

Nalbandian was surprised at the support he received from the Brazilian crowd but I guess they dislike the French more than the Argies!

Simon actually doesn’t have a bad record on clay. He lost to Ferrer in the Davis Cup ( as you’d expect) in September but won the title in Hamburg in July beating Almagro in the final. His game isn’t really suited to the surface though as he likes to use his opponent’s pace to counter attack.  He will have more time on this court to get to the ball and I expect a lot of very long rallies.

Nalbandian loves to get the crowd involved and I think he will feed off that support. The Brazilian’s certainly make a lot of noise when their favourite  wins a point and its almost silence when the other guy wins one.

Nalbandian is the better clay courter for me and his price of 1.84 has to be a back.

Update: I didn’t follow the match but Nalbandian won 6-3, 6-2.

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