Fabio Fognini’s golden run continued last week in Hamburg as he made it back-to-back titles on the clay. He comes into this tournament looking to join a very select group of players to have won titles in three successive weeks, but there have to be doubts surrounding his fitness and desire. The Hamburg final will have taken plenty out of him, both physically and mentally, having saved three match points during the second set, including a missed volley from Delbonis that should have been an easy put-away. His level was noticeably lower in the final than it had been in his run up to that point and I would be amazed if he goes deep into this tournament.
Whether Thiemo de Bakker is the man to stop him remains to be seen. The former Wimbledon junior champion has not really pushed on, but played some good tennis in Bastad to reach his first ATP semi-final, taking out Tomas Berdych and Viktor Troicki, and was very solid in his first round win here over Dmitry Tursunov. He has just started working with a new coaching team and will be looking to build on his good performances in Bastad here.
The two players have never played each other before.
What They Said
“Today I didn’t play really good, but I fought hard. I think that was the key” – Fabio Fognini following his title in Hamburg
After two long weeks, it would be no surprise to see Fognini tank at some point this week. I think that de Bakker played some very solid tennis in the first round and has the potential to frustrate Fognini and could scrape a win here.
The Rest of the Matches
Martin Klizan should come through against Leonardo Mayer, particularly if he serves as well as he did in the last round, dropping just one point behind his first serve. With the potential for Fognini to go out, he will be eyeing at least a semi-final here. Richard Gasquet shouldn’t have any problems against Albert Montanes, who is well past his prime, while Gael Monfils should beat Blaz Kavcic, assuming he turns up with the right attitude.
Lleyton Hewitt could face a tough test against the big-serving American, Rhyne Williams, now that he is off his favoured grass courts. Bogota finalist Alejandro Falla should have too much for Ryan Harrison’s younger brother, Christian, while Tim Smyczek is well-poised to strike an upset against the ageing James Blake. Ivan Dodig against Ricardas Berankis should be an intriguing match between two dark horses for the tournament, while the evening match sees the completion of Mardy Fish against Michael Russell. With questions over Fish’s fitness, the rain last night probably worked in his favour allowing him to rest up and he should have the class to come through this now.