Tennis Preview – Wednesday November 2

With two 500 level tournaments being played simultaneously, tomorrow promises to be another exciting day of tennis action.  Two matches (one in Valencia and another in Basel) pit top 30 players squaring off in first round tilts.  Here’s a preview of tomorrow’s action:

BASELINE RALLY’S MATCH OF THE DAY:

JANKO TIPSAREVIC VS. FLORIAN MAYER

The Baseline Rally Match of the Day leads off tomorrow’s action in Basel at the Swiss Indoor Championships.  Two veterans having career years square off as world #13 and #6 seeded Serbian Janko Tipsarevic takes on the 22nd ranked player in the world, German Florian Mayer.

Tipsarevic enters Basel on a tremendous hot streak.  In the last two weeks, he reached the finals in St. Petersburg and also won the event in Moscow.  Tipsarevic’s recent run of success dates back to late summer when he won the event in Kuala Lumpur in late September after making a glorious run to the US Open quarterfinals.

Mayer is also playing well recently.  In his most recent event, he reached the quarterfinals at the Master’s 1000 event in Shanghai where he beat world #2 Rafael Nadal.   In September, 28 year-old Mayer won his first career title in Bucharest.

On paper, this looks like a fairly even match-up until you delve deeper into the numbers.  Tipsarevic has an other-worldly 17-4 record indoors this year and both of his recent titles were won indoors.  Conversely, Mayer is a mere 3-2 playing inside this season.

Tipsarevic’s all-around game translates well to playing without any outdoor elements.  He possesses a potent second serve and has a more than adequate return game.  Look for him to control tempo from both wings and pound Mayer into an early exit.

PREDICTION: Tipsarevic 7-5 6-3

OTHER MATCHES TO WATCH:

MARIN CILIC VS. MILOS RAONIC

In a battle of tall, big hitters, 20th ranked Marin Cilic takes on world #27 Milos Raonic at the Valencia Open in Spain.  If you like big serving and big forehands, this is your match.

Cilic enters this tournament in fine form after winning St Petersburg last week and losing in the finals in Beijing.  Of note, Cilic beat Kevin Anderson, whose game very much resembles Raonic’s, in the round of 16 in Beijing.

Raonic is just starting to regain his form after missing the summer hardcourt season after undergoing hip surgery due to an injury suffered at Wimbledon.  He recently lost in the semifinals of Stockholm to Gael Monfils, in a match that he should have won but did not close.  Raonic may have the biggest serve in tennis and he will look to impose his will on his service games.

Raonic, however, may have some problems solving Cilic.  For one, Raonic’s return game is still a work in progress and it is hard to imagine that he will have many opportunities to break Cilic.  Additionally, Raonic has not beaten a top 25 player since April, when he took out Gilles Simon in Estoril.  Last, while Raonic has an impressive 19-9 record on hard courts, his record on outdoor hardcourts is barely over .500 at 8-7.

Conversely, Cilic is an impressive 28-12 on hard courts and has had a recent run of great success on this surface.  If fatigue is not a factor, Cilic will likely win in two hard fought sets.

PREDICTION: Cilic 7-6 7-5

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO VS. DMITRY TURSUNOV

6th seeded Juan Martin Del Potro is having a resurgent season, seeing his ranking rise all the way back up to #14 in the world after suffering from injury last year.   He faces off against world #39, veteran Dmitry Tursunov in a first round match in Valencia.

Del Potro is coming off of a good result making the finals in Vienna last week where he lost a hard fought match to Frenchman Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga.  Del Potro did suffer a surprising early round exit the previous week in Stockholm losing to James Blake.

Tursunov is playing middling tennis recently, having not made a semi-final since winning the tournament in Hertogenbosch on grass prior to Wimbledon.  His best most recent result is a quarterfinal loss in Moscow early this month.

Tursunov does not have the return game or the general weapons to compete with a talent like Del Potro.  Unless the Argentine becomes careless with a slew of unforced errors, Tursunov will likely not challenge in this match.  Look for Del Potro’s potent first and second serves, as well as his forehand, which is top five in tennis to carry the day.

PREDICTION: Del Potro 6-3 6-4

UPSET OF THE DAY

ALEX BOGOMOLV, JR. VS. FELICIANO LOPEZ

American (and soon to be Russian) Alex Bogomolov, Jr. takes on local Spaniard Feliciano Lopez at the Valencia open tomorrow.  28 year-old Bogomolov is having a shocking season, coming out of nowhere to attain his current career high ranking of 33rd in the world.  Lopez is also having a resurgent season at 30 years old with a ranking of #21 in the world – one spot off the best ranking of his fourteen year career.

Bogomolov is coming off some pretty good results with a semi-final appearance in St. Petersburg and a quarter-final in Moscow where he lost to Victor Troicki in a marathon three setter that went to three tiebreaks.  Lopez recently reached the semi-finals at the 1000 event in Shanghai.  This match is a rematch of Shanghai where Lopez defeated Bogomolov  in three hard fought sets.

Everything about this match-up suggests that Lopez will win.  Contrary to other Spanish players who are more comfortable on the clay courts, Lopez is a big hitter with a booming serve.  He usually struggles with other big servers, but Bogomolov certainly does not fit that bill.   Bogomolov is a consistent player but has no real great weapons.

That having been said, combine the pressure of the hometown environment with a confident opponent, and I believe Lopez will suffer a mild upset at the hands of Bogomolov in a war of attrition.

PREDICTION: Bogomolov 2-6 7-6 7-6

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