Today’s lineup is mouth-watering and several matches capture your immediate attention: Borna Coric vs. Roberto Bautista-Agut; Benoit Paire vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber; Ernests Gulbis vs. Juan Monaco; Andreas Seppi vs. Martin Klizan; and Fabio Fognini vs. Jeremy Chardy. As interesting as those matches are, there are two matches that deserve special attention: Rafael Nadal vs. Fernando Verdasco and Alexander Zverev vs. Tommy Robredo.
Rafael Nadal has dominated their rivalry since 2003 and had never lost a match to Verdasco until May 2012. For many Nadal fans that was a shock. It was even more disconcerting because it was on clay. At first glance, given their head-to-head, one may be surprised that Verdasco defeated Nadal in that match; however, if you dig a little deeper into the statistics, you will realize that Verdasco had come pretty close to defeating Nadal before. The difference in those losses was confidence, an abundance for Nadal and a lack of for Verdasco. Now, things have changed. Verdasco may still be a tad shaky on confidence; however, now that he has proven that he can beat Nadal, he has grown in confidence when it comes to playing him. Expect this match to be another three set battle. As a Nadal fan, I of course am hoping that Nadal gets the victory.
This is the tournament where Alexander Zverev burst into the spotlight one year ago. He made it to the semifinals on a string of incredible defeats/upsets before losing to David Ferrer. Zverev not only wants to back up that performance this year, he needs to in order to avoid a decrease in his ranking. Unfortunately, he has the misfortune of facing Robredo in the first round, an opponent he played four days ago in the semifinals of the SkiStar Swedish Open. He lost in straight sets, 63, 6-4. Despite that, I think that Zverev has learned from that experience and I expect today’s encounter will have a different outcome. In addition, home court advantage will work in his favor and Robredo won’t have as easy a match. I want a competitive match; however, I also want our spotlight player to come out the victor this time around.