While it may not immediately be the standout match of the day, it is the first opportunity to see the youngest player in the top 100 play an ATP tournament on his favoured surface.
Andreas Haider-Maurer comes into this tournament on the back of two challenger titles in three weeks on the clay in Timisoara and Poznan. He showed his talent on the clay in taking a set off Nicolas Almagro at the French Open and he, along with a number of other challenger players, will have been watching the progress of Federico Delbonis with some interest – another challenger player that has made his big breakthrough. He is a former ATP finalist in Vienna and has reached an ATP quarter-final on clay in the past.
Jiri Vesely has only just turned twenty, but he is undoubtedly a future star of the game. He has two challenger titles on clay this year in Mersin and Ostrava, plus two more final appearances in Prostejov and Braunschweig, losing to Radek Stepanek and Florian Mayer respectively. He qualified for the French Open and took a set off Philipp Kohlschreiber in a match that was very competitive. With victories over Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, he has shown that he is capable of playing at a higher level and it will be interesting to see how he fares here. He does not have the trickiest draw, so a decent run could be a possibility.
The two played each other in Ostrava back in April, which Jiri Vesely won in a very closely matched contest. It finished 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in favour of the Czech player, but both players won the exact same number of points, showing that there was nothing between the two.
“Vesely is having an excellent season, having climbed by more than 170 places since late 2012. He is a rising star and I’m confident that, in Umag, he will prove why he is considered the great hope of Czech tennis” – Vanja Bozickovic, the Umag tournament director
This should be a close match, but Jiri Vesely is a player on the rise and he will be desperate to prove that he belongs at this level. He has improved since their meeting earlier in the year and he should take this one, albeit possibly needing three sets. A match against the out-of-form Andreas Seppi awaits in the second round and it is not out of the realms of possibility that the winner of this match could reach the quarter-finals at the minimum.
The Rest of the Matches
It should be a comfortable day for the seeded players with Florian Mayer, Carlos Berlocq and Tommy Robredo all set for fairly straight-forward opening matches. The seed most in danger is the inconsistent Martin Klizan, who faces Paolo Lorenzi. The Italian is solid enough on clay, but often seems to be one of those players that is too good for the challenger circuit, but not quite at the level of the ATP circuit. Elsewhere, Gael Monfils should breeze past Mate Pavic without too many problems, and Aljaz Bedene and Viktor Troicki should also be easy winners.
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