16:00 – Chardy v Gulbis
Rankings are 64 and 26. Head to heads are 2-0 to Gulbis.
Chardy had a great run in the recent Rogers cup beating Baghdatis, Verdasco and Davydenko before losing to Djokovic in the quarter final.
In the W and S Financial group Masters he took the first set from Murray before losing in three sets.
Gulbis’ last match was also against Murray and he also went down in 3 sets. He beat Melzer in the previous game.
If Gulbis doesn’t show up with his A game today then Chardy has a chance. The Frenchman is capable of making a game of it against anyone but whether he can sustain that sort of level over a best of 5 set match is in doubt. His record in Grand Slam events is poor with just 1 first round win in 5 Slams.
Both hold serve well at 82% and 83% and their stats for first serves in, first serve points won, second serve points won and points won against serve are all very similar.
The stats aren’t going to help us too much today and its all about who starts the quickest. If Chardy takes an early lead then we are in for a tight match but if Gulbis is able to take the first sert I expect him to dominate.
Watch the opening 2 or 3 games to get a feel for who settles quickest. I will be looking to back both on serve. I am favouring Gulbis for the win as I don’t think Chardy really believes in himself over 5 sets.
Update: Gulbis was poor and it was soon clear that Chardy was playing better tennis.
Chardy won 6-2, 7-6, 6-4.
21:00 – Stepanek v Benneteau
Rankings are 30 and 37. Head to heads are 2-1 to Stepanek.
Stepankek is ranked higher but he is beginning to slide down the table. I watched a set and a game of his last match which was against Troicki. He didnt manage to hold serve throughout the entire first set and looked like he was ready for the seniors tour.
In contrast Benneteau is in excellent form and came close to beating Nadal in his last match, taking the first set and losing the second in a tie break ( did he have match point?). In that same week he also beat Wawrinka and Llodra.
They hold serve 68%/78% and hit first serves 59% and 66% of the time. Both can be vulnerable on second serve with neither player winning more than 50% of second serve points.
12 months ago Stepanek could hold his own with the top players but he is well past his sell by date. I expect Benneteau to be too strong and too consistent.
Back Benneteau on serve.
Update: Benneteau started much stronger than Stepankek but I am told he was ill later in the match. He still managed to complete the victory 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.