Portugal Open – Day 3 Review, Day 4 Preview
Manuel Traquete, Tennis East Coast
Day 3 at the Portugal Open saw the conclusion of the women’s round of 16 and only three men’s matches.
Due to Gastão Elias’s final in a Brazilian challenger last week, his first round matchup with Volandri was postponed until yesterday afternoon. Despite all the tennis he has played lately though, Gastão looked quite sharp in this match and had break points in all but one of Volandri’s service games (where he still got to deuce). He was aggressive all match long and got it done 6-4 6-3 despite some of his usual choking in some points, including an excruciatingly long and possibly deciding game at 4*-3 in the second set. In order to repeat his quarterfinal performance from last year, Elias will now have to beat #4 seed Guilhermo Garcia Lopez on the same stage Frederico Gil did in 2010 during his dream run: the Centralito. Garcia-Lopez is the obvious favorite, but Gastão is showing some good form and he will have nothing to lose so an upset might potentially be in the cards if the factors align.
The second round of matches started yesterday, with Granollers prevailing over Montanes in a very tight 3-setter, where the 2009/2010 champion had a lot of opportunities to close things out but ended up missing another opportunity to go deep again at the Portugal Open. The other player already through to the quarterfinals is another Spaniard, Daniel Gimeno-Traver, who beat Rui Machado 6-3 7-6. DGT’s serve and forehand were more often than not too much for Machado to handle; by the time he seemed to finally adapt to Gimeno-Traver’s game somewhat it was already too late to do something in the match, although he was relatively close to taking the second set and forcing a third set.
Round 2 of the men’s draw will be concluded today; Berdych is the massive favorite to triumph over Devvarman at Center Court for obvious reasons and he should really win. Berdych has made a habit of shocking losses vs far inferior players, but Devvarman on clay is hardly a threat at all. Berdych won their only matchup 3 & 1 on a Harcourt on Chennai.
Raonic should have more trouble against the talented but frequently injured and inconsistent Pablo Cuevas, but his serve and power should grant him a relatively safe passage to the quarterfinals.
On court 1, Victor Hanescu and Andrey Golubev will lock horns in the first match of the day; the names might not sound too appealing, but both can play incredible tennis on clay when inspired and could produce a very nice spectacle if they’re on their day.
Finally, Golubev and Mayer will face each other in a match that will be everything bar a classical clay-court match. Mayer is the favorite to outhit Golubev and reach the QFs on this surface, but with two players like these, consistency isn’t really something to be taken into account. It will all depend on what level they show on the day as both are capable of breathtaking hitting performances but equally of absolute shockers when they’re off. If you’re a betting man, you should really stay away from this match!
On the women’s side, only two of the seeds are missing the quarterfinals. Samantha Stosur and Lucie Safarova – defeated today in 3 sets by Polona Hercog in a match filled with unforced errors and poor serving throughout – and Kaia Kanepi – shockingly sent packing by the Romanian Begu. In the other matches of the day, logic prevailed with the #1 seed even delivering a double bagel to her opponent.
The quarterfinals promise to be really interesting, especially the first one and only on center court that will fit the seasoned veteran Kuznetsova to Canadian upstart Eugenie Bouchard. Can the Canadian make another breakthrough or will the Old Guard prevail even while not at their best? Suarez Navarro and Vinci are also clear favorites over Polona Hercog and Elena Vesnina, although both are playing pretty well so far and have a shot at going even further on current form. Finally, what should be on paper the tightest match of the round will be played on Court 2 and pit Timea Bacsinszky against Irina-Camelia Begu. The Romanian maybe emerges as an ever so slight favorite, but the match should be great and well contested throughout.