Denis Istomin v Kevin Anderson
Istomin has seen off Lukas Lacko and Yen Hsun-Lu this week without too many problems. The Uzbek is always a tricky opponent on the hard courts as shown by victories over Lleyton Hewitt, Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer in the past 18 months shows. Despite this, he will have to serve very well in this match as he will likely get few opportunities on the Anderson serve.
Kevin Anderson had to come from a set down to beat Matthew Ebden, but played pretty well nonetheless. His serve was working well, dropping just four points behind his first serve, and became more and more dangerous on return as the match progressed. As the second seed, Anderson will be optimistic of a run to the final, especially given a potential semi-final against either Giraldo, who he beat convincingly last week, or Ryan Harrison, ranked outside the top 100.
Kevin Anderson won their only previous meeting in Sydney earlier this year. A comfortable 6-4, 6-3 for the South African, who was the more solid player off the ground and was able to venture into the net on plenty of occasions to finish points.
I suspect this will be a win for the South African. His serve was working well against Ebden and, once he had settled into the match, his groundstrokes looked reasonably impressive. While Istomin is certainly a level above Ebden, he will have to serve very well if he hopes to win this match.
The Rest of the Matches
Much of the attention in Umag is off the court after Troicki’s suspension, but his conqueror in the last round, Tommy Robredo, should have few problems with the talented, if inconsistent, youngster, Aljaz Bedene. Fognini seemed unsure as to whether he wanted to win or lose his first match against Thiemo de Bakker, but Martin Klizan will be good enough to take advantage if the Italian is not at 100% today. Elsewhere, Andreas Seppi should beat Horacio Zeballos, who has strung together back-to-back wins for the first time since February, while the best match of the day sees Albert Montanes look to improve on his 4-1 H2H record against Gael Monfils.
John Isner should see off the veteran James Blake, although it should be an enjoyable match for the American crowd. I fancy Ivan Dodig to come through reasonably easily against Lleyton Hewitt and back up his third seeding, while Harrison has been poor so far despite winning two matches and he will have to improve significantly if he is to beat the Colombian, Santiago Giraldo.