Stepanek v Golubev. Both players are struggling for form. They last played a year ago and Stepanek won fairly easily on clay.I feel this one is quite tight and is more likely to be lost than won. Starting price is 1.67 for Stepanek so a small lay from the start is in order until we see who is better on the day.
Update: Had to jump out of the lay prertty quickly as Stepanek rushed through the first set. Golubev won the second but Stepanek won 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Dodig takes on Petzscner in Germany. Dodig reached the semi finals last week and was beaten by Nadal. He managed to break Nadal twice in that match. This is Petzschner’s first match on clay for a while. He hasn’t been in amazing form and limped out quite tamely from the SonyEricsson Open in the third round having beaten Melzer in the round before. He is playing in front of his home crowd which will help him. Recent form makes Dodig favourite but often players who reached the latter stages of the previous tournament lack motivation in the next one. I will wait to see how Petzschner starts. If he is keeping UE’s to a minimum then he has a great chance. I also want to see if Dodig looks sharp.It is likely to be close if they both perform well with a slight edge to Petzschner.
Update: Petzschner was on fire in the first set and Dodig seemed slow. In the second set Petzschner started badly and Dodig broke him. Petzschner fought back and took the match 6-1, 6-4.
Granollers should have too much class for Croatian Skugor. Skugor is playing well enough on the Challenger courts with a couple of quarter final appearances and a semi final recently but his last match on clay was a straight sets loss to Nishikori in the US Claycourt Championships. Skugor has done well at this tournament in the past so it won’t be a walkover for Granollers. Two tight sets or a three setter with Granollers taking it.
Update: The first set was close with several breaks. Either player could have taken it but Granollers won it. The second set was very one sided and Granollers won 7-5, 6-1.
Raonic and Andreev go head to head in Estoril. Recent trends don’t sound good for Andreev who has lost 4 of his last 5 matches on clay. He has lost 5 of his last 6 on the main tour. He has lost 4 of his last 5 against a big server.
The courts at Estoril are very slow even for clay which could go against Raonic’s serve but it remains a huge weapon. He has shown that he is more than just a big server though and he remains my tip to progress to the next round. His serve has been a little shaky on the clay when he perhaps tries to force it to get some cheap points. Avoid the first service game but after that if the rocket is working backing his serve is a good option. Should be another close one.
Update: 2 tight sets but Raonic always seemed to have the edge. He won 6-4, 6-4.