Melzer v Petzschner:
Melzer had to come through the qualifying rounds which he did without too much drama.
Surprisingly he has never won a set against his doubles partner Petzschner. Their last match was earlier this month in Brisbane. He hasn’t won a main draw match yet this year although he had wins over Tsonga and Monfils at the Kooyong Exhibition.
Melzer has lost the spark that made him a top 10 player. He just seems like he doesn’t care anymore. Maybe finally beating his doubles partner will be the start of some sort of improvement but I find it hard to put money on him in this match.
Both players like paying on indoor hard courts. Melzer had had the 3 qualifying matches already so will have a feel for the court speed and bounce.
I think this is a match to wait for a few games before getting involved. We need to see how they start the match but I have to go with Petzschner unless Melzer shows me something to change my mind.
Update: Waiting before getting involved was a good option. Melzer ran away with the first set. perhaps his decision to play the qualification rounds was a good one. he gets his first win over his doubles partner.
Melzer won 6-1, 6-3.
Fernando Gonzalez v Riba: (clay)
Gonzo makes another comeback after injury to play his home tournament. Injury prone Gonzalez has a fantastic record in this event. The former world number 5 won the title in 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2009. he lost in the final in 2005.
He is understandably the local hero in Chile and if he is in decent form he should have enough to beat Riba. He is likely to be rusty though. On his day Riba is an excellent claycourter but a lower back injury in October last year has not helped him in his prep for 2012. He did beat Montanes in the first round of the Australian Open.
Wild Card entry Gonzalez is desperately short of match practice without a match since last October. The last time I saw him return after an injury he looked very rusty and took a long time to get into the match. That may give Riba a chance to get off to the better start and I feel a lay of Gonzalez is the way to start. After the first set, anything can happen but the crowd may be able to lift Gonzalez enough to come through in 3 sets.
Update: Solid win for Gonzo 6-4, 6-4.