Friday Topspin: Dr. Ivo Down

Nadal through: After Tommy Robredo withdrew, leaving Juan Martin del Potro with a place in the semis, that left only one men’s singles match on the slate at Indian Wells yesterday.  While Ivo Karlovic had never beaten Rafael Nadal, he had taken a set in every meeting.  Last night was no different.

In fact, we were excruciatingly close to an upset.  It took a 9-7 third-set tiebreak to decide the match in the Spaniard’s favor.  Karlovic got that far by saving six of eight break points, while he converted the only one he earned, at 5-5 in the first set.

What amazes me about one-dimensional servers like Karlovic and John Isner is how their overall serving numbers aren’t always that great.  Sure, they rack up the ace totals–Ivo hit 23 last night–but Nadal won 78% of first serve points yesterday against Karlovic’s 74%.  On all service points, Nadal won 80%, Karlovic 65%.  Of course, Rafa is responsible for some of that, but it’s not uncommon.  While the match turned on a single point or two, Nadal won 55% of total points, a figure you sometimes see in a 6-3, 6-3 match.

All that said, the first set showed a more versatile and confident Karlovic that I’m accustomed to.  He still wouldn’t be inside the top 100 without the serve, but he as aggressive as ever getting to the net, and would follow up serves with strong forehands in both directions.  I still don’t particularly like watching him play, but it’s not hard to understand how he upset so many higher-ranked players this week.

Two more: After so many great matchups in the tournament, the quarters are something of a letdown.  Starting the session today is Novak Djokovic vs. Richard Gasquet.  Six months ago, I would’ve been excited about that, wondering if the Frenchman might be able to pull the upset.  The way Novak is playing this week, you wonder whether he’ll pull out another bagel.

Later in the afternoon, Roger Federer looks to extend his dominance over doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka, who managed a three-set upset of Tomas Berdych two days ago.  Wawrinka has only beaten Federer on clay, and there’s no reason to expect today to be different.

Sportsbooks give Gasquet about a 12% chance of advancing; Wawrinka a 22% shot.  My system says the same for the Swiss, but is more optimistic for Gasquet, setting his number at 18%.  Then again, my system only uses results from before the tournament; it doesn’t know that Djokovic has only dropped six games in three matches thus far.

Doubles: The upsets continue, as the doubles specialists are all gone.  Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse defeated Bopanna/Qureshi in a 10-8 super-tiebreak.  All four of their matches have gone to a super-tiebreak, and three have ended at 10-8.  (The other one finished at 10-7.)  They are in the final.

The other finalist will be determined in what sounds more like an exhibition lineup than an ATP doubles semifinal: Federer/Wawrinka vs. Nadal/Lopez.  It will be interesting to see how the Swiss players perform; they’ll get some rest, but they’ll basically play two matches back-to-back.  Fortunately for those of us with subscriptions, will broadcast the match.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday Topspin: Delpo Rolling

Straight sets: For the second day in a row, eight men’s matches resulted in only one third set.  Thankfully, yesterday’s contests were generally much tighter than Tuesday’s.  Nobody felt that more keenly than Juan Martin del Potro.

Delpo, playing Philipp Kohlschreiber, was out of sorts for much of the first set, apparently dealing with a stomach issue.   He stayed on the defense, trading protracted holds with the German into a tiebreak.  A brilliant down-the-line backhand flick on the first point of the tiebreak seemed to be all he needed–his energy came back, and he only lost a single point in the breaker.

Kohlschreiber took his time recovering, dropping to 1-4 before breaking back and evening the score.  The German made it to another tiebreak, which in its way, had a chance of deciding the match.  Kohl was obviously in better shape for a third set after more than two hours of play.  He ran out to a 6-1 lead in the tiebreak, and proceeded to lose five match points before falling 9-7.  Ouch.

Today, del Potro draws Tommy Robredo, who had a surprisingly easy time with Sam Querrey, beating him 6-1, 6-3.  Here’s a shocker from the sportsbooks: Delpo is more heavily favored over Robredo than Rafael Nadal over Ivo Karlovic.  The difference is slight, as both are given a roughly 85% chance of winning.

The other half: Four quarterfinalists get the day off today.  Richard Gasquet pulled an upset, downing Andy Roddick in straight sets, and he’ll meet Novak Djokovic.  The tour should be terrified right now: Djokovic beat Viktor Troicki 6-0, 6-1.  A drubbing of Ernests Gulbis–that you can understand.  But while the Serbs are close friends, there’s no explanation for such a lopsided victory over Troicki except for the obvious one: Novak is playing unbelievable tennis right now.

The final quarter will be all Swiss, between Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka.  (First, they play their quarterfinal doubles match, for a chance to face–of all people–Nadal and Marc Lopez.)  Wawrinka snuck through against Tomas Berdych in the one three-setter of the day, while Federer was pushed to a first-set breaker by Ryan Harrison.

Clearly, a Djokovic-Federer semi is very much in the cards, and for the first time in my life, I might have to pick the Serb.

Also in doubles: The pairing of Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse recorded another win yesterday, this time over the Murray brothers.  Today, they face Bopanna/Qureshi.  Dolgo and Malisse have won all three of their matches in a champion’s tiebreak: 10-8, 10-7, and 10-8.

Up and coming: Watch out for the 20-year-old Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.  Quick recap: He started the year winning two consecutive futures events in Turkey, then qualified for the Kyoto challenger last week.  In Kyoto, he reached the final before losing to Dominik Meffert.

That effort got him into the main draw of the Guangzhou challenger, where he recorded a big win over Lucas Lacko in the second round and then a revenge victory over Meffert in the quarters.  Today, Stebe plays Uladzamir Ignatik for a spot in a second consecutive final.  Since the Kyoto results haven’t gone on the computer yet and Stebe has few points to defend, look for him to make a massive leap in the rankings next week.

Pim Pim’s brief return: After Joachim Johansson‘s impressive performance in Davis Cup, it was exciting to see him in the draw at Switzerland F1.  He beat Mate Pavic in the first round, but has withdrawn, presumably with injury.  Too bad.

Another comeback: Here’s another name you might know: Crazy Dani, Daniel Koellerer.  The Austrian has also struggled with injury, and he’s the third seed this week at Turkey F9.  He’s through to the second round, and perhaps more remarkably, he’s through to the semifinals in doubles with his countryman Michael Linzer.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday Topspin: Harrison d. Raonic

7-6(1), 4-6, 6-4: The battle of the young guns lived up to its billing, and more.  Ryan Harrison came out swinging, attacking Milos Raonic‘s serve as if he hadn’t heard about the record-setting ace totals.  Raonic proved as unflappable as ever, firing off 140 mph serves and huge forehands on break points.

In the end, Harrison came out on top.  He played the Canadian as aggressively as anyone has this year, and it paid off.  On the Raonic second serve, which guys like Fernando Verdasco couldn’t handle, Harrison charged in and crushed backhands from well inside the baseline.  The American’s game isn’t fully developed, but his attitude surely is.

There was certainly no question that these two guys have earned the big stage.  With the exception of some clunky forehands from Raonic, the level of play was extremely high, and especially for the Canadian, the level went up on the big points.  It was hard not to think that we were watching two future top-10 players.

If there was only one revelation from the match, it was Harrison’s return game.  He wasn’t just aggressive on the second serves, he whacked away at everything he could get a racquet on.  He broke serve three times, and just as importantly, took the first set tiebreak 7-1.  In other words, he did what just about every Raonic opponent in 2011 couldn’t do–a favorable comparison with a lot of good players.

Today, Harrison gets to play Roger Federer for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Breaking big serves: The bottom half of the draw has continued to proceed according to plan.  Of the eight spots in the round of 16, the seeded player has six of them; the seventh went to Harrison, and the eighth is Richard Gasquet‘s, earned after a stellar performance upsetting Jurgen Melzer.

Gasquet will face Andy Roddick, who also put on a good show last night, breaking John Isner‘s serve three times and winning more than 80% of points on his own delivery.  It’s a solid outing from Roddick, who has struggled with Isner in the past.

Two guys who didn’t struggle at all were Federer and Novak Djokovic.  Djokovic started the day with a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing of Ernests Gulbis, and Federer repeated the act, crushing Juan Ignacio Chela 6-0, 6-2 in under an hour.  Think these guys are looking ahead to the semifinal?  At the least, both should advance easily to the quarters; Federer draws Harrison, while Djokovic plays Viktor Troicki.

Round of 16: Yesterday’s players don’t get a day off, as the entire round of 16 is scheduled for today.  Here’s quick rundown of the matchups:

  • Sam Querrey vs. Tommy Robredo: The surface seems to favor the American, but Querrey has hardly been untouchable lately.
  • Troicki vs. Djokovic: Troicki has pushed Novak in the past, but I see this one coming out about 6-4, 6-4.
  • Roddick vs. Gasquet: Potential to be the match of the day.  Roddick has to be favored, but definite upset potential here.
  • Rafael Nadal vs. Somdev Devvarman: Nadal’s third straight opponent out of qualifying.  Devvarman is playing great tennis and might give Nadal a few things to think about in the first set.
  • Federer vs. Harrison: Big day for the American, regardless of how badly Fed beats him.
  • Phillip Kohlschreiber vs. Juan Martin del Potro: Kohl benefitted from Robin Soderling‘s injury; Delpo should have an easy time getting through this one.
  • Tomas Berdych vs. Stanislas Wawrinka: Another one with a chance to be the match of the day.  The Swiss has been playing well, so we could see an upset.
  • Albert Montanes vs. Ivo Karlovic: Seriously, this is in the round of 16?

Doubles: If that isn’t enough, how about the Murray brothers against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse?  The Dog/Malisse pairing is hardly a familiar sight on the tour, but they took out the Bryan brothers yesterday, 10-7 in the champion’s tiebreak.

There’s an equally star-studded doubles match this afternoon, between Qureshi/Bopanna (who beat Paes/Bhupathi yesterday) and Djokovic/Troicki.  Nadal/Lopez advanced to the semis yesterday, and it looks like Federer will be back on the doubles court tomorrow.

Doubles matches aren’t nearly as predictable as singles, especially with all of the top singles players in the draw.  But how about this: Four of the eight seeded teams didn’t make it out of the first round.  The other four seeded teams lost in the second round.  So we have eight teams in the quarterfinals, none of which were seeded coming into the tournament.  Crazy.

Enjoy the tennis!

Tuesday Topspin: Underachievers

Surprise: The top half of the draw continued to prove unpredictable–it seems the only thing we can rely on is that if Rafael Nadal faces someone outside the top 100, he’ll get the job done.  Amazingly, Rafa will face his third straight qualifier, Somdev Devvarman, in the round of 16 tomorrow.

The shock of the day belongs to Phillip Kohlschreiber, who defeated Robin Soderling is straight sets.  While Kohlschreiber is a solid player capable of great tennis, that match seemed almost as much of a lock as Nadal’s contest against Ryan Sweeting.  The German executed the upset with a stellar return game: Soderling won on 60% of his service points, and a mere 67% of first service points.  For a player with a big game like the Swede’s, the latter number should be around 80%.

The Soderling upset means that the top half of the draw is down to only one seed (Nadal) in the top sixteen.  Three of the eight spots belong to unseeded players: Devvarman, Ivo Karlovic, and Juan Martin Del Potro.

22: For one set, anyway, the most enjoyable match of the day was between Del Potro and Alexandr Dolgopolov.  The Ukrainian was on his game for much of the first set, and the two players were trading both impressive winners and remarkably defensive shots.  Delpo ended up taking a first-set tiebreak and then running away with the second set.  Neither player made more than about half of their first serves–not a good sign for the Argentine going forward, but something that made for some enjoyable points.

Underachieving: Another upset: Sam Querrey beat Fernando Verdasco in straight sets.  Based on recent returns, you might think both of these guys would figure out a way to lose the match.  Coming into the tournament, Verdasco hadn’t won a match since the semifinal in San Jose, and his victory over Richard Berankis in the second round was thanks to a retirement.

Querrey has been even less impressive.  Before beating Verdasco yesterday, he hadn’t defeated a player ranked about #50 since last year’s U.S. Open.  In the round of 16, the American draws Tommy Robredo, which makes a great opportunity for him after the early upset of Andy Murray.

Doubles champions: The men’s doubles continues to fascinate.  I always wonder just how good the top singles players would be if they regularly entered doubles events.  Based on the evidence at hand this week, the answer is: Pretty good.  Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic won their doubles matches yesterday; Djokovic and Viktor Troicki took down the 7th-seeded duo of Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach.

On the card today, Nadal and Marc Lopez will play specialists Paul Hanley and Lukas Dlouhy, while the Bryan Brothers draw another wacky team, this one of Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse.

Today’s big match(es): In contrast to the top half, the bottom half of the draw has seen virtually no upsets, leaving us with a lot of semi-predictable contests, like Tomas Berdych vs. Thomaz Bellucci and Djokovic vs. Ernests Gulbis.

One match with some potential is on Court 2: Richard Gasquet against Jurgen Melzer.  The Frenchman has been playing solid tennis of late, albeit not at a level that seems likely to take down a top-10 player.

The match that I’ll be scheduling my day around is the result of the only two seeded losses in the bottom half.  Fourth match, Court 2: Milos Raonic vs. Ryan Harrison.  Raonic, obviously, has been playing outstanding tennis all year.  Harrison hasn’t been at the same level, but he’s beaten both Jeremy Chardy and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to get here.  This is a matchup we’ll probably be watching for the better part of the next decade, and in another year or two, it won’t be happening in the round of 32 any more.

Best of all, the winner draws Federer.

See you tomorrow!

Monday Topspin: On Schedule

Predictable: If Saturday was a day of upsets, Sunday put things back to normal.  In the top half of the draw, only 10 of 16 seeds survived to the third round.  In the bottom half matches, played yesterday, 14 seeds got through.

And of the two upsets, one wasn’t really a surprise.  Milos Raonic boomed another ten aces and converted both of his break point opportunities to beat Mardy Fish in straight sets.  Raonic served himself out of trouble over and over again; Fish couldn’t do anything with eight break chances of his own.

In the other upset, you have to tip your cap to Ryan Harrison.  After a tough match with Jeremy Chardy, he dealt a straight-set defeat to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, a Spainard who has had plenty of success on hard courts.  As in the Raonic match, it was all about converting the break points–Harrison turned 5 of 7 to his favor, while GGL managed only 4 of 11.  In the topsy-turvy match, there were five breaks of serve en route to Harrison’s 6-3 first set.

The two upsets set up quite the show for Tuesday: Raonic and Harrison, the two youngest guys left in the draw, go head to head.  The winner of that match probably sees Roger Federer in the fourth round.

Speaking of: Federer won a squeaker over Igor Andreev, 7-5, 7-6(4).  Andreev has always given the Swiss his share of problems, and yesterday was no different.  I watched most of the match, and came away thinking Federer is playing just fine; the close score says more about a great performance from the Russian than any weakness on the part of the 2-seed.

Next up, Federer draws Juan Ignacio Chela, which you have to assume will be easier for Roger than yesterday’s was.

Andy Roddick also had a work a bit harder than expected in his match against James Blake.  Blake is hardly in top form, but he showed flashes of brilliance, including one cross-court forehand winner clocked at 102 mph.  Blake was all smiles at the end of the match, which makes me think he recognized his own solid performance.

For his part, Roddick gets another all-American battle on Tuesday, when he will take on John Isner.

Today: There are eight men’s singles matches, comprising the third round in the top half of the draw, including Rafael Nadal (against Ryan Sweeting) and Robin Soderling (taking on Phillip Kohlschreiber).  For all that, the two highlights of the day are the matches with the lowest seeds.

Juan Martin del Potro attempts to continue his comeback against Alexandr Dolgopolov, a man who also has something to prove.  It should be fascinating to watch Delpo try to boss Dolgopolov around the court, only to find that the Ukrainian has a whole lot of answers.

Competing for a likely shot at Nadal, Xavier Malisse and Somdev Devvarman make up my other highlight of the day.  Devvarman may be playing as well as he ever has, and it’s always fun to watch someone as fast as he is.  Malisse is a proven giant-killer, having taken out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga two days ago, but he doesn’t always perform as well against guys at his own level.

Elsewhere: There are no new rankings until Indian Wells is over, but there are a handful of tournament winners worth noting.  German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe lost in the final of the Kyoto challenger to Dominik Meffert, which still represents a huge step forward for the 20-year-old.  The Germans dominated that event, representing six of the eight places in the quarterfinals and both finalists.

The young Russian Evgeny Donskoy continues his winning ways on clay; a couple of weeks ago he took the challenger title in Casablanca; yesterday, he beat Simone Vagnozzi to triumph at Spain F7.  It’s not quite as prestigious, nor are there as many ranking points to be had, but Vagnozzi is a credible opponent, and Donskoy continues to establish his reputation as a force to watch on slow surfaces.

Finally, at the challenger in Sarajevo, Amer Delic took the title after Karol Beck withdrew.  Playing at home, Delic made a huge step in his return from injury; it was his first tournament win at any level since May of 2008.  The Bosnian once broke into the top 60 and reached the third round of the Australian Open, so as long as he can stay healthy, we’ll probably be seeing him at higher levels soon.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some of the fields in this weeks challenger- and futures-level events. In the meantime, enjoy the tennis!

Sunday Topspin: Young and Restless

Upset central: Indian Wells is turning into a huge event for American tennis.  As I noted yesterday, U.S. players took six of their seven first round matches.  I assumed that all those qualifiers and wild cards would collapse in the second round once they started playing the big boys.

Not exactly.  To start with, Donald Young beat Andy Murray in straight sets.  I was only able to watch the first-set tiebreak, but as usual, we can cast this match as a Murray disappointment, not necessarily a Young triumph.  The Brit was counterpunching against a guy without a lot of big weapons, and wasn’t doing it well enough.

Murray made fewer than half of first serves, and even against a qualifier, that’s not going to do the job.  Young made only 53% of his first offerings, but managed to win nearly half of his second serve points, while Murray won nearly a quarter.  Ugly match for Andy.

That said, it is a huge step for Young.  After that tiebreak, I assumed Murray would put his game back together and Young would collapse under the pressure.  If anything, the exact opposite happened.  The upset is the best result of Young’s career–by far–and allows us all to remember that he’s still only 21, younger than the likes of Alexandr Dolgopolov, Ernests Gulbis, and Thiemo de Bakker, and only a few months older than Kei Nishikori.

Murray was the American’s first top-10 scalp–indeed, the only matches I found where Donald beat a top-50 player were two victories over Feliciano Lopez.  Wow.

The other two American qualifiers in action went to three sets in equally surprising fashion.  Ryan Sweeting, coming off a solid week in Delray Beach and a clean win over Marcel Granollers, beat Juan Monaco with one of the weirdest scores you’ll ever see: 6-1, 0-6, 6-1.  Despite his reputation as a clay-courter, Monaco has posted some good results on hard courts, so I didn’t see this one coming.

Tim Smyczek lost his match to Phillip Kohlschreiber, but he will go home proud of his effort.  Outside of the top 150 for his entire career, he edged past Ilya Marchenko in the first round, and took Kohlschreiber to a third-set tiebreak.

Finally, if we’re keeping score for the Americans, we have to mention Sam Querrey‘s straight-set win over Janko Tipsarevic and Michael Russell‘s loss to Nicholas Almagro.  That’s 9 wins in 12 matches so far for the locals.

More upsets: Somdev Devvarman scored a victory almost as big as Young’s.  Marcos Baghdatis is as inconsistent as it gets, and Devvarman simply outran him, winning the second set 6-0.  Perhaps the Indian’s solid showing against Federer in Dubai and in Davis Cup have given him some confidence; it’s quite possibly his best career match result, and only the second time he’s beaten a top-20 player.

Two matches I didn’t see: David Ferrer lost to Ivo Karlovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fell to Xavier Malisse.

All these upsets really open up the draw.  Tsonga and Baghdatis were set up for a third-round match; instead, it’s Devvarman and Malisse.  The winner will face Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, meaning that Rafa (assuming he beats Sweeting tomorrow) won’t face a seeded player until at least the quarters.

What to watch: For the second, round, there are some phenomenal matches on the slate:

  • Milos Raonic vs. Mardy Fish: A big test for the Canadian.  Sportsbooks give Raonic a 58% chance of winning; that’s really saying something against a hard-court-friendly U.S. player inside the top 20.  The winner is probably punching his ticket to a fourth-round matchup with Roger Federer.
  • Nikolay Davydenko vs. Stanislas Wawrinka: My ranking system still loves Davydenko on hard courts, thanks in part to his win over Nadal in January.  Wawrinka, though, has to be considered the steadier player at this point; Vegas odds favor the Swiss at about 57%.
  • Andy Roddick vs. James Blake: Even though we know how this one’s going to turn out, there will be some spectacular shotmaking along the way, and the crowd will love it.
  • Novak Djokovic vs. Andrey Golubev: Remember, Golubev just won two matches in Davis Cup, including the triumph against Tomas Berdych.  He’ll make Djokovic work for this one.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday Topspin: American Underdogs

Good day for teens: It wasn’t easy, but both Bernard Tomic and Ryan Harrison find themselves in the second round at Indian Wells.  Tomic had a  hard-fought match against surprise qualifier and doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna, splitting two tiebreaks before the Aussie came out ahead in the third.  The two players won 75% of points on serve, an astonishingly high number for both sides to sustain.

Harrison’s match looks similar–two tiebreaks then a third set with a wider margin, but the profile is far different.  He and Jeremy Chardy broke each other seven times in a total of 22 break chances.  Harrison advances to face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, while Tomic draws Viktor Troicki.

Doubles upsets: When Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal win matches, you usually don’t think of them as upsets, but when they are playing doubles against the likes of Mirnyi/Nestor and Fyrstenberg/Matkowski?  Not only did Federer and Nadal win their matches, but Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray did, as well.

Come to think of it, this doubles draw is astonishingly good, and not just in the sense that it’s star-studded.  Tournament organizers like their top seeds to play doubles to draw the crowds, and often those players make quick exits, as when Djokovic partnered with his brother in Dubai.  But Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka are Olympic champions, Nadal and Marc Lopez are the defending champions, and Murray and his brother won a title recently.

Most of the marquee doubles matches were on yesterday’s schedule, but today, Bopanna and Aisam Qureshi play their, opener, and the Bryan Brothers face the very unlikely team of Feliciano Lopez and Milos Raonic.  Is that more or less likely than Harrison and Thomaz Bellucci?  If only there were more televised doubles.

Home court advantage: Not only did Harrison win yesterday, but James Blake was also victorious.  Blake broke Chris Guccione three times, somehow winning 39% of return points.  That sounds a bit like the Blake of old, and we’ll probably get to enjoy it for exactly one more match this week, as he’ll play Andy Roddick in a promoter’s dream match tomorrow.

If my count is right, that’s six wins in seven tries for Americans so far–only Alex Bogomolov failed to advance.  Even more impressive, virtually every one of those Americans was the underdog, at least on paper.  Of the six winners, four were qualifiers and two were wild cards.

Of course, there are four more Americans in the draw; they got to the second round by virtue of their seeding.  Of those four, Sam Querrey is the only one in action today, playing Janko Tipsarevic; as a sign of how far Querrey’s stock has fallen, sportsbooks are giving Tipsarevic a 59% chance of winning the match.

Yes, he won: No shocker here, Raonic defeated Marsel Ilhan in straight sets.  It was his first 1000-level win.  He recorded 10 aces in the process, perhaps on his way to setting more records.  Sunday he faces Mardy Fish.

Elsewhere: Qualifer Cedrik-Marcel Stebe defeated top seed Go Soeda in Kyoto to reach the final there.  It’s only Stebe’s third tournament this year and his first challenger, but he’s undefeated thus far.  He’ll play countryman Dominik Meffert today for the title.

At the Sarajevo challenger, the scores are more interesting than the players.  All four quarterfinal matches were decided in straight sets, and six of those eight sets were won in tiebreaks.  Dmitri Tursunov lost to Bosnian wild card Mirza Basic; the second set tiebreak went to 13-11.

Today’s matches: Now that the seeds are in action, there are some higher-profile contests.  My pick is the first match on Stadium 2, pitting Fernando Verdasco against Richard Berankis.  Verdasco hasn’t won a match since his back-to-back losses against Raonic.  You have to imagine the Spainard will come through (sportsbooks give him a 75% chance), but you never really know where Verdasco’s head is.

Enjoy the tennis!