Fucsovics value to silence the crowd against Griekspoor

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Thursday’s play at the Argentina Open, ABN AMRO Rotterdam and the Dallas Open features second round action and Sean Calvert returns to preview day four…

We were a little unlucky on Wednesday with one 3.02/1 winner, thanks to Egor Gerasimov winning set one in Rotterdam and a loss from a great position in Dallas for Steve Johnson.

Johnson had five break chances to go a set and a break up and traded at 1.182/11 against Adrian Mannarino, but failed to take any of them and ended up losing in a final set tie break.

Tallon Griekspoor was rather fortunate to have come through his opening round match in Rotterdam and it’s thanks to a couple of chokes, really, from Aslan Karatsev that the Dutch are able to cheer on their man again on Thursday.

Karatsev led that match 6-2, 5-2 and was 1.011/100 in-play to win it, but failed to serve it out, played a poor tie break, failed to serve it out again at 5-3 (two match points not taken) and ended up losing a final set breaker 0-7.

The slow conditions and Karatsev’s heavy ball were doing a lot of damage to Griekspoor, who would surely appreciate quicker conditions and he managed to win despite scoring eight fewer points and winning only 37% of his second serve points.

The slow conditions and Karatsev’s heavy ball were doing a lot of damage to Griekspoor

His opponent on Thursday, Marton Fucsovics hits a heavy ball, too, and Fucsovics came to life at this time of the year, making the final here in Rotterdam before going on to make the quarters in Doha and Dubai, so he’ll be looking to back that up this week.

After a typically slow start, Fucsovics was well on top of Filip Krajinovic by the end of their round one clash and his stats in the 10 matches he’s played in Rotterdam are very healthy.

He has 81% holds of serve, 28% breaks of serve (109 total) and a 106 total in terms of combined service points/return points won.

That’s 10% more than Griekspoor has managed in his Rotterdam career and while the Dutchman improved a lot last year at Challenger level and showed good form in Australia, I’m not sure it’s enough for him to be favourite here.

The Hungarian has a good record (16-9 win/loss including Davis Cup and won 8 of last 11 on the main tour only) against players from the host nation and so he shouldn’t be fazed by the crowd support for his opponent.

Not a lot else appeals in Rotterdam on Thursday, so moving on to the Argentina Open, where they have four matches on their schedule.

I wonder what sort of level we’ll get from the ever-unpredictable Fabio Fognini on Thursday in his first match on clay since last July?

He’s been anything but a strong starter in recent season, with the Italian suffering heavy straight sets losses in his opening main tour match of the year on clay for the last five seasons.

Fognini hasn’t won his first main tour clay match of the year since he beat Diego Schwartzman in Sao Paulo in 2015 and the only time he won his first actual clay match of the year at any level was when I was there to watch him in Buenos Aires in 2017.

Fognini hasn’t won his first main tour clay match of the year since he beat Diego Schwartzman in Sao Paulo in 2015

That was in Davis Cup when he came back from two sets down to beat Guido Pella at the Parque Sarmiento, but as far as tour level matches are concerned he’s been poor for a long time in his clay season-openers.

That’s enough to put me off backing him in what’s a winnable match against Pedro Martinez.

Can Schwartzman continue dominance over Munar?

Diego Schwartzman is looking to become the first Argentine to defend this Buenos Aires title since the great Guillermo Vilas in the late 1970s and on the court that bears Vilas’s name Schwartzman gets his 2022 campaign going against Jaume Munar.

Schwartzman will be pretty happy with this draw because he’s beaten Munar twice in Argentina in the past couple of years (once in Cordoba and once here) and been reasonably comfortable in doing so.

He didn’t look in the best of form (or fitness) last week in Cordoba, but he’s stated his dislike for events at altitude and we’ll probably see better from Schwartzman this week.

The pattern of his last two wins over Munar has been a quick opening set followed by a much tighter second set and the stats from those two meetings tell a tale of Schwartzman’s dominance.

Not the strongest of servers, Schwartzman has held 90% of the time against Munar and broken 41% of the time, winning 16% more points on serve and also on return.

All things being equal you’d expect it to be unlikely that Munar’s brand of reactive tennis will turn this around, but Schwartzman will need a lot better than he showed in Cordoba last week.

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Federico Delbonis surely can’t help but have been moved by his participation in the Juan Martin Del Potro farewell show on Tuesday and perhaps it will give Delbonis some inspiration for the rest of the week.

Delbonis is one of a group of current Argentine players who’ve failed to overcome the expectation of the home crowd at the ‘Cathedral of Tennis’, with one semi final appearance in his 11 consecutive attempts here.

Contrast those opportunities with the ones Del Potro had – or more accurately didn’t have – (Del Potro played only two career matches at the Argentina Open) and perhaps Delbonis will be more likely to forget his nerves and grasp his opportunities.

Delbonis is one of a group of current Argentine players who’ve failed to overcome the expectation of the home crowd at the ‘Cathedral of Tennis’…

He faces another familiar opponent on Thursday in Pablo Andujar, against whom Delbonis has lost no fewer than six times in eight meetings on the clay.

In a slightly peculiar career series, the winner of the opening set has gone on to lose the match five times in those eight matches and after winning his first six matches against Delbonis, Andujar has now lost the last two (both from a set up).

Looking at the stats of their series, it’s clear that Andujar has had the upper hand from the back of the court, winning 50% of his second serve points (Delbonis just 38%) and the Argentine has only managed to hold serve 58% of the time against Andujar.

Delbonis has held serve 77% of the time on clay at main level in his last 50 matches, so he’s been nowhere near his average when he faces Andujar over the years.

But if we look at the last three meetings on clay, he’s held serve 70% of the time while still only winning 37% on his second serve.

So, if Andujar gets enough looks on the Delbonis second serve the Spaniard will fancy his chances here.

The clash between Miomir Kecmanovic and Francisco Cerundolo is another evenly priced match, with two talented but inconsistent players going head-to-head for the first time.

Cerundolo seems to be one of the few Argentine’s of the current era to play above themselves at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club and on the 12-month main level clay numbers I’d give the slight edge to Cerundolo.

He’s held serve slightly more often (2% better), broken more often (4% better) and is 2% better on combined service points/return points won, but the margins are clearly rather small.

Add that to the boost he seems to get from playing here then I’d lean towards Cerundolo here.

Nothing strong enough for a bet in Buenos Aires, more a couple of leans, and I’ll just take one point on Fucsovics on Thursday.

Author: Ellen Garcia