Tennis Preview – Valencia and Basel Finals

Tennis fans: Raise your hands if when you saw the draw in Valencia you picked a Juan Monaco vs. Marcel Granollers final.  Yeah, me neither…

The Basel final is a little bit more conventional with local hero Roger Federer making it to the final two against young Japanese star Kei Nishikori.

FINALS PREVIEW – BASEL:

The exciting finals match-up in Basel features perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time, Roger Federer against a man who looks primed to be a top ten player within the next two years in Kei Nishikori.  Nishikori seems to have been taking a page out of Federer’s book recently, adding a potent net game to his already impressive all-around game.

Nishikori pulled off easily the biggest win of his career earlier today when he beat world #1 Novak Djokovic in three sets, including a bagel in the third set.  Federer, in the meantime, dominated his countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in two sets to reach the finals.

This is the first time that these two will meet on tour and while Nishikori is playing the best tennis of his life, it is hard to pick against Federer in this one.  For one, Nishikori has yet to win a title on the ATP tour, so nerves will certainly be a factor.  Second, Federer will likely be the fresher player of the two given that he has not dropped a set since Jarko Nieminen took one off him in the round of 16.

Moreover, while I love Nishikori’s game, Federer is just a tick better in most areas of the court at this point.  Federer has had some difficulty on his opponents’ serves this year, so that will negate was is probably Nishikori’s greatest weakness.  That should keep this match very competitive.

This will likely be a very tough, hard fought match, but I think that Federer has just enough to take it.

PREDICTION: Federer 6-3 4-6 6-4

FINALS PREVIEW – VALENCIA:

In a tournament that featured 13 of the top 30 players in the world, world #34 Marcel Granollers and world #41 Juan Monaco reached the finals.  Not only are these not some of the higher ranked players that entered the tournament, these guys are both much more comfortable on clay courts.  Granollers has won two tournaments in his ATP tour career – both on clay while all of Monaco’s three tournament victories on tour have come on the dirt.   Moreover, in his ten year career, Monaco has made ten tour finals – all on clay.  The only other time that Granollers has made a final on hard courts was at this very same tournament last year.

Granollers and Monaco have met twice before on tour.  The only time that they have met on hard courts was last year at this tournament in Valencia in the quarter-finals.  Granollers prevailed at that time in three tough sets.  Interesting to note in that match-up was that Granollers had some good success when he got his first serve in play (72%) and very little success when he put his second serve in play (32%).

Expect a very emotional crowd to lift Granollers and for him to seize the moment.  Both players have similar games which rely on consistency and placement instead of power.  In a match-up that looks this close on paper, the home field advantage looks like enough to carry the day.

PREDICTION: Granollers 6-4 5-7 6-2

 

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