The European clay swing continues in Portugal with the Portugal Open in Oeiras. The ATP 250 event had been known as the Estoril Open in the past but re-branding of the tournament saw the name change happen last year for both this and the WTA version. Last year’s winner Stanislas Wawrinka will not be defending his title but there will be a top 10 player competing after Tomas Berdych took a late wildcard.
The Czech will be favourite to win the tournament in what would be his first title on the surface for just under 5 years and he will be able to ease himself into the tournament with an opening round against either Somdev Devvarman or Matthew Ebden. It is a tough part of the season for Ebden whose clay struggles continued with a straight sets loss in his first match in Bucharest. Meanwhile, Devvarman has fared little better, going 1-4 in the past 3 years at main tour level on the surface. Whoever gets a rare win will likely see their fate end swiftly in the second round.
Andrey Golubev made the third round in Barcelona before falling in straights to finalist Kei Nishikori. The Kazakh will face Adrian Mannarino and will fancy his chances of success against the Frenchman who was defeated surprisingly easy by home favourite Marius Copil in Bucharest. Golubev does lead the head to head 2-0 although there is little to take from two futures matches over 8 years ago. The winner will play either Joao Sousa or a qualifier. Sousa has lost his last three matches but should see himself back to winning ways with possible opponents including Daniel Gimeno Traver and Taro Daniel.
After pushing Novak Djokovic to the brink in Monte Carlo, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will want to continue his good form at this tournament. He will likely face an opponent who holds a 4-0 head to head over him in round two. Filippo Volandri, who plays Portugese wildcard Gastao Elias, won four straight matches against the Spaniard between 2005 and 2006.
Victor Hanescu will play a qualifier with the winner going on to play Pablo Carreno Busta or Mikhail Kukushkin. Kukushkin has five straight defeats on the main tour which will give Busta confidence in bouncing back after a disappointing first round exit to Andrey Kuznetsov in Barcelona.
Former top 60 player Rui Machado is also a wildcard recipient as he continues to search for the form that earned him that career high ranking in 2011. A 2-3 record at Challenger level on the surface this year doesn’t give much hope and facing Dmitry Tursunov is a far from easy task for the Portugese player. However, Machado can take heart from the fifth seed’s loss last week to Inigo Cervantes in three sets. The winner plays Alejandro Gonzalez or a qualifier.
One of five players to win the event more than once, Albert Montanes will seek to become the first to pick up three titles in Portugal. However, that seems a distant possibility for the Spaniard whose level is far from that which saw him win in 2009 and 2010. Barcelona finalist Santiago Giraldo will be extremely tough and Marcel Granollers will be waiting in the second round for the winner. Montanes is 1-4 against Giraldo and 2-2 against Granollers.
Teymuraz Gabashvili‘s quarter final loss to Ernests Gulbis in Barcelona left him with an unwanted 0-13 record in ATP quarter finals. The 7th seed will be projected to make it there again and will likely see that move to 0-14 if he gets there. Lukasz Kubot should be no problem in round one if his 6-0 6-1 loss to Roberto Bautista Agut is anything to go by while Carlos Berlocq should offer a sterner test should he see off a qualifier in round one. It was a straight forward 6-4 6-1 victory for the Argentinian in Casablanca which should give Berlocq confidence for a potential rematch.
Milos Raonic caps off the draw as second seed and will play either Pablo Cuevas or Aleksandr Nedovyesov to open his tournament. The Canadian is yet to win a clay event but should be able to ease his way through the early rounds of the event although he would likely struggle against Berdych who is more accomplished on clay.
SF: Tomas Berdych def. Pablo Carreno Busta
SF: Milos Raonic def. Marcel Granollers
F: Tomas Berdych def. Milos Raonic