ATP Cordoba Open Day 1 Predictions Including Federico Delbonis vs Pablo Cuevas

Swedish Open Federico Delbonis

With the 2020 Australian Open now concluded, the tennis doesn’t stop and the busiest month on ATP calendar is upon us. Kicking off Frantic February will be three tournaments in three different continents. The ATP Cordoba Open is the first clay-court tournament of the year, and now in its second edition as an ATP 250 level event, it has attracted some of the best players in the world.

Here are our thoughts on who will prevail in the opening day.

ATP Cordoba Open Day 1 Predictions

Lorenzo Sonego vs Attila Balazs

Head-to-head: First meeting

Lorenzo Sonego is still chasing his first match-win of the 2020 season after losing in the first round in Doha, Auckland, and the Australian Open. In fact, if you factor in the second half of last season, Sonego’s last win on tour came at the US Open at the end of August when he beat Marcel Granollers in the first round.

But the 24-year-old could be forgiven at the sight of that unwanted run of form. Sonego won his maiden ATP title in 2019. Despite clay being his forte, the Italian surprisingly captured the crown on the lawns of Antalya just prior to Wimbledon. Earlier last year, he achieved a significant break when he reached the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters as a qualifier.

Sonego’s campaign in Cordoba will start against Attila Balazs of Hungary. The 31-year-old retired from the game in 2014 in order to start coaching, but felt bored and came back to professional tennis. He has since notched some excellent results on his return: making a maiden ATP final, winning a challenger title for the first time in nine years and achieving a career-high ranking in the process.

Balazs has an efficient heavy serve and can hit his loopy forehand with precision, but on clay, expect Sonego’s brute baseline game to excel.
Prediction: Sonego in 2

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Juan Pablo Ficovich vs Gianluca Mager

Head-to-head: First meeting

This will be the kindergarten first-round match of Day 1 as both players have a fantastic opportunity to pick up a rare tour-level match win. Pablo Ficovich navigated his way into the main draw after squeezing past Pedro Sousa and Filip Horansky in the qualifiers. In both matches the Argentine youngster’s first serve was on point, in particular against Sousa, where he won 30 out of 39 points behind his first serve. If can replicate that serving display, compounded with the extra support from the locals, he could spring an upset over a player ranked a hundred places above him.
Prediction: Pablo Ficovich in 3

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Fernando Verdasco vs Carlos Taberner

Head-to-head: First meeting

Fernando Verdasco is currently ranked at No.51 in the world, which is his lowest position in the ATP rankings since July 2016. He still managed to turn things around that same year and comfortably attained a Top 50 year-end ranking. 2016 also turned out to be the last time he won a tour-level title as he finished runner-up in his next three finals.

At 36, Verdasco has admitted he is very much fighting his last battles on court, and it would only be fitting if he captures his eighth career title before his playing days are over. Verdasco’s debut appearance in Cordoba will see him face countryman Carlo Taberner, who at 22, is making only his second main draw appearance at tour-level. Taberner is a natural clay-courter who has featured regularly at Challenger level.

Verdasco’s pedigree of playing at the top level should overwhelm the youngster here, despite his notoriety for inconsistent performances.
Prediction: Verdasco in 2

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Federico Delbonis vs Pablo Cuevas

Head-to-head: Delbonis 2-2 Cuevas

This is a blockbuster first-round match between two clay-court masters. Pablo Cuevas is a winner of six tour-level titles and remarkably none of those have come outside clay, while his opponent Federico Delbonis has collected two career titles, both coming on the red dirt.

Cuevas will certainly seek for an improved start to the year after failing to win a single match at the ATP Cup for his country and then lost in straight sets to Gilles Simon at the Australian Open. The Uruguayan produced his best results in 2019 on clay, reaching the final in Estoril, and semifinals in Cordoba and Rio. He also made the third round at the French Open and picked up a couple of Challenger titles in Tunis and Aix-en-Provence.

However, he fared dismally during the second half of the season and managed to conjure up only four tour-level wins following the aforementioned third round showing at Roland Garros. Delbonis will be licking his lips at the prospect of compounding more misery to the 34-year-old who might struggle to counter the turbine-like top spin forehand of the Argentine. Delbonis won their last meeting in Bastad last year and is in better form having reached the final of the Montevideo Challenger at the tail end of 2019.
Prediction: Delbonis in 3

Main Photo from Getty.


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