Dubai – 13:30
Halep v Pavlyuchenkova:
Pavlyuchenkova isn’t in the best physical shape she’s ever been in. That extra weight in the Dubai sun isn’t going to be pretty. I think she will struggle with her serve in the wind too. Not much to be positive about her chances here.
Halep has come through qualifying beating Kudryatseva and Martinez-Sanchez. She reached the 3rd round in Doha last week losing to Azarenka. Her first serve has been very effective so far but a weak second serve may give her opponent a few chances.
Don’t expect to see a great tennis match but the graphs will look like heart monitors.
Pavlyuchenkova, as world number 15 should be able to use her experience to handle the conditions but her confidence has to be low.
Lots of breaks and perhaps 3 sets but Halep has the edge.
Update: Halep won 6-4, 6-2.
RMK Memphis – 20:00
Blake v Sweeting:
America is about the only place that Blake plays well these days. Having said that he doesn’t have a good record in Memphis. He lost to qualifyer Kendrick last year in the second round and the 2 previous years was unfortunate to get Roddick and Hewitt, each in the first round.
This is the first year that Sweeting hasn’t had to come through qualifying to reach the main draw. He is able to push some of the higher ranks quite close if its his day. Ferrer needed 5 sets to beat him in the Australian Open. Just last week Benneteau needed 2 tie breaks to beat him.
Sweeting has lost 7 in a row on indoor hard courts. He did beat Blake in 2010 on a hard court in Washington which is their only previous match on a hard court. Blake won their other meeting on clay in April last year.
Blake has been battling a knee injury and hasn’t played a competitive match since October last year.
Blake could easily take a few games to get his timing right and may even be using this match to get some match fitness.
Normally I would have Blake as favourite but his current form has to be below his normal level.
Probably a close one but Sweeting to take it.
Update: Sweeting won 6-0, 6-2.