Marbella Challenger seems like an unlikely destination for many Men’s Tennis fans to have their eyes on this week but it has put together a stacked field with plenty of former top 20 players. Stanislas Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem head the field as both look to build fitness ahead of a long clay season. Thiem will open against Pedro Cachin, a long term fixture on the lower levels of the tour.
Easing back into things is a good route to go for Thiem, who has not been seen on court since retiring in Mallorca last year. Whether the expectation is to get a few matches or see if he can go the whole remains to be seen but a smooth return will be a boost for the tour in general. “It’s been a very, very tough period for me and to go back to competition is what I have been waiting for so long and as you know I had a lot of setbacks. I know this will be a slow process of getting back to the top level, but I am ready to work hard and start humble.” he said in an Instagram post detailing his return.
Cachin is a clay specialist, having played over 500 matches on the surface compared to considerably less on hard courts or elsewhere. The 26 year-old has been unable to advance beyond the Challenger Tour, only sparingly playing qualifiers in ATP events. He has the odd impressive win recently by the standards of this level including Fernando Verdasco, another competitor in Marbella.
This really should be a straight forward return to the court for Thiem, who should just be levels above an opponent with a limited game. An easy straight sets performance and very little stress on the body will be a good effort for the Austrian, who will be hoping to peak for the bigger tournaments coming up.
Prediction – Dominic Thiem in straight sets