Dubai – 12:00
Hantuchova v Peng:
Hantuchova leads the head to head 2-0 with both matches being on hard courts.
Hantuchova really struggled against Hercog yesterday losing the opening set. She needed a 3rd set tie break to secure the win.
Peng beat Bartoli in straight sets. She has been unspectacular so far this year.
Hantuchova has clearly had the better start of the two players with 2 finals and one title. Her last couple of matches since that title win have seen her looking tired. Perhaps she needs a week off.
This is another tough match to call but I think Peng’s consistency will win through in the end. She will be relying on Hantuchova making a lot of unforced errors though.
Peng to win in 3 sets.
Update: A very tight first set was decided by a break in the last game. Peng faded in the second.
Hantuchova won 7-5, 6-2.
Copa Claro – 19:00
Hanescu v Nishikori:
Nishikori doesn’t have many clay court matches under his belt on the main tour. However he does say that clay is his favourite surface. Watching him against former French Open champion Ferrero the other night it was easy to see why. He made a slow start and dropped a break behind but soon got his ground strokes flowing.
Hanescu has started 2012 pretty well on the clay with just a 3 set loss to Almagro in Brazil to spoil his results.. Against Andujar in the first round he really should have won the match in straight sets but a poor service game at the end of the second set handed it to his opponent. In the third set he was again a break up but couldn’t hold on to it. He won the match in a tie break.
Nishikori is by far the more consistent of the two and his win over Ferrero will have given him a massive boost of confidence in his clay court game.
Hanescu will probably be able to keep the first set close and may even take it but I expect Nishikori to come through in the end.
Update: Hanescu’s serve was superb in the first set winning 89% of points on his first serve. Nishikori didn’t really come close to breaking and Hanescu took the set.
The second set started pretty much the same and Hanescu broke serve early. After a few games Hanescu’s serve started to look a little vulnerable. Nishikori was able to break back and in the last game of the set with Hanescu serving to take it into a tie break, Nishikori forced the break. Nishikori controlled the third to win the match.
Nishikori won 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.