Roger Federer (1) SWI – Nikolay Davydenko (4) RUS
Davydenko has not beaten Federer in 11 meetings and if he is ever going to defeat him its going to be here. The Russian is very much on form at the moment where as Federer is not looking at his best and has struggled through matches on the dirt. He was broken three times in his match against Denis Gremelmayr which is far from impressive considering the German’s ranking. Davydenko’s game is suited to clay as he is machine like when hitting from the back of the court. Federer on the other hand has had trouble adjusting to the surface as shots that would be winners on hard courts are now coming back and as a result he is making too many un-forced errors. I think this match could easily go to three sets as Federer will without a doubt raise his game but I favour the consistent Davydenko to win his 12th consecutive match.
Predicted winner :: Davydenko
Philipp Kohlschrieber GER (25) – David Ferrer ESP (5)
This match will be closely contested and I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw a five setter here. Both men have not been in the greatest form as of late and Kohlschrieber has a brilliant chance of using his shot making skills to cause a minor upset. The German is one of my favourite players on tour and the quick court will suit his attacking game. Ferrer will be hoping Kohlschrieber falls apart as he battles away from the back of the court. This could certainly happen as Kohlschrieber is not the most resilient player but if he is able to keep enough focus throughout the match he could trouble the rock solid defence of Ferrer.
Predicted winner :: Kohlschrieber
Indoor Hard Best of 3 sets
James Blake USA (8) – Paul Henri Mathieu FRA (12)
James Blake is a very talented player who has impressed me with his recent performances. In his last two tournaments he has gone out at the hands of Nadal but he pushed the Spaniard all the way with his attacking play. Mathieu’s form hasn’t been as eye opening but he will be a threat to the American as he is solid off both wings. Their serves are similar however Blake hits harder groundstrokes which will cause problems for Mathieu particularly on the forehand side which is where he will make a few mistakes. Having the home crowd on his side should bring out the best in Blake and he should win here but it won’t be easy.
Predicted winner :: Blake
Nikolay Davydenko RUS (4) – Rafael Nadal ESP (2)
Davydenko has surprised many with his impressive performances in Miami. He started the tournament slowly, struggling past Bolelli and Gulbis but has since upped his game and chalked up big victories over Tipsarevic, Ancic and Roddick. The Russian has had some very varied results this year including straight sets loses against Llodra and Fish and as I have said previously you never know what you will get with the world number 4. He can really put in some horrible lackluster showings considering his high ranking. But he has been very much in the zone in this tournament and displayed pure domination from the baseline against Roddick. His serve is also looking much more impressive and won an impressive 34 out of 39 first serve points against the American. To trouble Nadal he will have to repeat these stats and deliver a very solid performance if he is to beat him here.
The Spaniard is on terrific form and is playing to a level I have not witnessed before, particularly on serve he has proved to be virtually unbreakable. I thought Blake would beat him however Nadal showed his class and fighting spirit to come back from a set down. Also he grinded out a win against Berdych who had not lost a set in the tournament. He has been quoted as saying he is playing to his full potential and I think Nadal at full potential can beat anyone.
However the hard courts probably suit Davydenko’s baseline play a bit more and providing he plays to his best ability, he could enjoy picking off Nadal’s high top spin shots. This match has a massive possiblity of going the distance and although Davydenko is bang on form and certainly has a chance I would be silly not to tip up Nadal to deliver yet another unbelievable performance and take the title.
Predicted Winner :: Nadal
Roddick has beaten the Swiss master only twice in 19 attempts and one of these wins was in a exhibition match. Had Roddick played Federer in Dubai I would have favoured A-Rod due to his sensational un-breakable form, however he has predictably tailed off now and has not had a smooth ride through this tournament. Federer on the other hand has recovered from his recent dip in form and fitness and seems back to a standard somewhere near his best as he showed against Acasuso. The Swiss master has not won a tournament this season as yet and he looks set for at least a final appearance.
Predicted Winner :: Federer
Nikolay Davydenko RUS (4) – Janko Tipsarevic SRB (41)
This will be a close match, probably going the distance and I think the Serbian number 2 could edge it. His five setter against Federer in the Australian Open really gave him the belief that he could be a top player and I think he has displayed his undoubted quality in recent performances. Davydenko has battled through his rounds coming from a set down to win in all three displaying his mental strength and his confidence hitting off both wings. However I think if he gives Tipsarevic any chances the Serbian will take them and not let him back into the match un-like his previous opponents. Davydenko was impressive against Ancic and showed his true quality but he is unpredictable and you never know if he’ll turn up or not.
Predicted winner – Tipsarevic
James Blake USA (9) – Rafael Nadal ESP (2)
Blake lost to Nadal in three sets in their last encounter in Indian Wells and I think he has the quality to get his revenge on the spaniard here providing he is 100 percent. His accurate and powerful shots trouble Nadal who struggles to defend against big hitters. However, as we all know, Nadal never gives up and will fight right up until the last point of a match. His win against Tsonga is an example of this as he won from being 5-3 down in the third set by taking the next four games in a row. Nadal has been untroubled in this tournament but has not faced anyone with the quality of Blake. This match could again go the distance and I’m favouring Blake who will have the home crowd behind him.
Predicted Winner :: Blake
Tomas Berdych CZE (10) – Igor Andreev RUS (31)
Berdych has hit form in this tournament and I cannot see him losing to Andreev who I find a little one dimensional sometimes. He relies on his big forehand too much and I think the Czech number one will simply direct traffic to the weaker backhand wing. Berdych will use his strong ground stokes to apply pressure on the Andreev serve, which is quite useful, but does desert him occasionally when needed most. An example of this is when he played Djokovic in Dubai. Berdych has not lost a set this tournament and although this match could be more testing he should come through it.
Predicted winner :: Berdych
Predicted Winner :: Anderson
Richard Gasquet FRA (8) – Dmitry Tursunov RUS (35)
The head to head for this year stands at 1-1 and this match could go either way. The stylish Frenchman is one of my favourite players but he can suffer lapses of concentration and go into his shell when losing. Tursunov’s ‘go for broke’ power game is very unique on the tour and you never know quite what your going to get. Some matches he’ll make 100 errors and in others he’ll be unplayable. Both players have not been on the best form as of late and I fancy the well rested Tursunov to blast Gasquet off the court.
Predicted Winner :: Tursunov
Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (65) – Feliciano Lopez ESP (33)
I have come across a few people on the internet tipping Del Potro for this match and I think they are very wrong. I agree that Lopez can be unpredictable at times but when he plays well, he is virtually unstoppable. I really feel Lopez can reach a much higher level than Del Potro who actually leads the head to head 2-0. The last time they played was in October 2007 where Lopez was off form and lost in straight sets however he came into his own this year in Dubai where he showed just how good he can be only losing to Roddick in the final.
Predicted winner : Lopez
Ivan Ljubicic CRO (24) – Fabrice Santoro FRA (49)
Every match Ljubicic plays now I always think of a quote from a tennis commentator: “The Ljubicic star had faded.” He won a couple of matches last week against Cilic and Robredo but lost easily to Federer who was clearly not 100 percent. The pair played at this tournament last year when Ljubicic, ranked 7 prevailed in three sets. A year on and Ljubicic is not the player he was and I can see the tricky Frenchman who caused Djokovic a bit of trouble in Dubai chopping his way to victory here.
Predicted Winner :: Santoro
I heard a commentator say recently that the Ljubicic ’star’ had faded away and a loss of form at the back end of last year has him currently at 23 in the rankings. He runs into Federer here on red hot form and I don’t give him much of a chance. Federer was clinical against Mahut and should breeze through into the next round.
Predicted winner :: Federer
Richard Gasquet FRA (8) – James Blake USA (9)
A very interesting match here which could go either way. Gasquet’s technical skill takes on Blake’s power play. Gasquet leads the head to head 2-0 but throw the form book out of the window here as Blake relishes playing in front of his home crowd. The entertainer responds well to pressure and often comes with some fantastic shots when up against it. Gasquet has one of the best backhands in the game and we are sure to see some stylish winners. Gasquet can have mental lapses during matches (remember his 0-6 set against Murray in Paris last October) but when he switches back on his masterful play is resumed. I think this match will depend on who serves better and Blake will surely up the 45% first serve average and could win in a closely contested match.
Predicted Winner :: Blake
Novak Djokovic SRB (3) – Guillermo Canas ARG (16)
Canas has had two impressive wins here against Bjorkman and Monaco and is on good form. However I think this match will be one step too far for him. Djokovic is a near complete player with a big serve combined with pacey and solid groundstrokes. Canas is also competent off both the forehand and backhand wing but he could struggle on serve due to the quality of Djokovic’s returning. Djokovic should advance here in straight sets.
Predicted winner :: Djokovic
Lleyton Hewitt AUS (24) – Mardy Fish USA (98)
Mardy Fish easily beat Davydenko who failed to turn up in the previous round. Hewitt has strung together a few wins here and is certainly the player to beat in this match after dismissing Youhzny with relative ease. He should be able to deal with the big Fish serve with his returning capabilities and the former winner of this tournament looks hungry to advance into the latter rounds and could be a dark horse to reach the semi’s. Hewitt consistently strong hitting off both wings should draw errors from Fish who plays a very attacking game.
Predicted winner :: Hewitt
As I have said Roddick surprised me last week with his impressive performances in Dubai. I opposed him in every match and he proved me wrong however I will not be tipping him here. The amount of times a tournament winner goes out first or second round in his next competition is my reason for this. Roddick could be a little physically and mentally tired from all his matches last week and he can not play any better than last week. Tommy Haas seems to have put his 6/3 6/0 loss to David Ferrer in Dubai behind him as he beat battling Frenchman Julien Benneteau in three sets here in the previous round. Haas has the superior groundstrokes when compared with Roddick and I feel if A-Rod misses a few first serves then he could be under pressure from the 29 year old German. This match will be close but I think Haas can edge it if Roddick isn’t playing to the standard he did last week.
Predicted Winner :: Haas
Andy Murray GBR (11) – Jurgen Melzer AUS (85)
Melzer is a solid player who had an impressive win over Safin in the previous round but surely Murray will be too much for him here. The British number one played some sensational tennis to beat Federer in Dubai but was de-railed by Russian Davydenko in straight sets. This has given Murray a few days off to re-group and he’ll be fresh coming into this and should win without too many problems.
Predicted Winner :: Murray
Lleyton Hewitt AUS (24) – Sam Querrey USA (48)
Querrey is the form player here having won Las Vegas last week but like Roddick he too could be feeling a little tired from his previous matches. The big server showed no sign of fatigue against Luis Horna in the first round but Hewitt is of a different class and he will be looking to get through a couple of rounds in this tournament after a stuttering start to 2008. He won this tournament in 2002 and 2003 and although it may seem his best years are behind him Hewitt still has the ability to turn on the style as he showed against Safin beating him 6/2 6/1 in Las Vegas last week.
Predicted Winner :: Hewitt
Youzhny leads the head to head 4-2 and should be able to prevail here against the French magician. Santoro had to retire from his last match with an elbow injury and there are some doubts over his fitness however he should never be written off and this could be closely contested.
Predicted Winner :: Youzhny
Jan Minar CZE (197) – Igor Andreev RUS (34)
Jan Minar is at his best on clay and despite not dropping a set in the qualifiers this will be a bridge too far against the talented Russian. Andreev’s form has not been brilliant of late however he will look to get back on track with a straight forward win here.
Predicted winner :: Andreev
Stanislas Warwrinka SUI (33) – Jan Hernych CZE (188)
Warwrinka has one of the best backhands in the game and this should help to overcome a very average player in Hernych who tends to rely on opponents mistakes. Hernych came through the qualifiers without dropping a set and I cannot see this trend continuing and is in for tough match against the Swiss number two.
Predicted winner :: Warwrinka
David Ferrer ESP (4) – Tommy Haas GER (35)
Ferrer is a big favourite in this match against an out of form Haas. Haas had shoulder surgery at the end of last season and has not found his confidence this year with some notably poor losses against Becker and Hartfield. Ferrer will make him play every ball and should come through unscathed.
Predicted Winner :: Ferrer
Rainer Schuettler GER (88) – Fernando Verdasco ESP (30)
Schuettler has gone out in the first round in his last two tournaments and this could be case here. The wild card had a few decent wins las year however his form has slumped and will find it difficult against the in form Verdasco. The left hander can be erratic but betters Schuettler in every department. Providing Verdasco is not fatigued from last weeks tournament he should win.
Predicted winner :: Verdasco
Mohammed Al Ghareeb KUW (431) – Nikolay Davydenko RUS (5)
This should be an easy win for Davydenko against largely unknown wildcard Al Ghareeb.
Predicted Winner :: Davydenko
Roger Federer SUI (1) – Andy Murray GBR (11)
This is Federer’s first tournament since his semi final defeat in the Australian Open and he will be fresh but will he be match fit? Murray’s last match was a disappointing defeat to Robin Haase which proves he is not quite on top of his game yet. His first serve is also unreliable and he would need to correct this if he was to push Federer here. Murray will be hungry for this one and an upset wouldn’t surprise me.
Predicted winner :: Murray
Richard Gasquet FRA (8) – Dmitry Tursunov RUS (36)
This will be a closely contested match with both players demonstrating vastly different styles. Gasquet has a brilliant repertoire of shots while Tursunov uses brute force to muscle out his opponents. Tursunov leads the head to head 2-0 and has been on good form as of late and this match will depend on how well Gasquet can counter the Tursunov power play.
Predicted Winner :: Gasquet