The Estoril Open begins in Portugal on Monday and the likes of Juan Martin Del and Stanislas Wawrinka will be looking to improve their form ahead of the French Open in May.
Both these players have a buy in the first round, but there is plenty of talent on show on Monday in what looks as if it could be an exciting day of tennis in Lisbon.
Perhaps the most eye-catching of the day’s matches sees Uzbek Dennis Istomin take on former world number 12 Paul-Henri Mathieu of France (Istomin 6/5, Mathieu 8/13 at Totesport
Sixth seeded Istomin has once again continued his steady progress in 2012 and almost claimed the biggest title of his career earlier this year in San Jose, before losing to Milos Raonic in the final. The 25-year-old is one of the most powerful hitters in the sport, but sometimes struggles on clay due to the limits within his game.
Mathieu on the other hand is a player who has had a difficult few years and hasn’t come close to winning a tour event since the Hamburg Open in 2009. However, like many of his countrymen, he is a clay-court specialist and although he may not have the power of his opponent, he certainly has far more finesse.
This one almost looks too close to call but Mathieu’s clay court experience might just see him sneak it, although don’t be surprised if it goes to final set decider (Mathieu 14/5 to win 2-1).
The other match that stands out on Monday sees Dutchman Robin Haase take on Italian Simeone Bolelli (Match Betting – Haase 1/2, Bolelli 6/4).
After having a superb junior career, Haase is still to truly fulfil his potential but has shown signs of improvement recently, making it through to the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters. The 25-year-old will be full of confidence going into this one and will be looking to show off his improved skills on the red dirt.
However, he won’t have it all his own way and in Bolelli, he will certainly face a stubborn opponent. The Italian is enjoying possibly the best season of his career and recently won in Brazil. That win also came on clay and the 26-year-old will hoping to carry on his form in what’s sure to be an exciting match.
Haase (6/5 to win in straight sets) is undoubtedly the favourite and although it will be tough, he should comfortably win in straight sets.