ATP Rio Open Day 1 Predictions Including Pablo Andujar vs Fernando Verdasco

Cristian Garin at the Rio Open

The first clay court ATP 500 event of the year, the Rio Open, gets underway this week, with a number of exciting matches on the slate on day one in Brazil. But who will book their place in the second round?

Rio Open Day One Predictions

Pablo Andujar vs Fernando Verdasco

Head-to-head: Verdasco 3-2 Andujar

Kicking things off on the Quadra Guga Kuerten, is an all Spanish encounter between two players who have are typically at home on the clay. Fernando Verdasco may no longer be at the peak of his powers, but on his day he still has the game to trouble any opponent on the tour. Verdasco has enjoyed a long and successful career, highlighted by a semifinal appearance at the Australian Open in 2009 and quarterfinal appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open.

It is perhaps surprising his least successful grand slam is at Roland Garros. The Spaniard possesses a lethal forehand and a big serve, however the latter has too often let him down when it matters most. Pablo Andujar, meanwhile, has won four ATP tour titles in his career, all on clay courts, most recently the Grand Prix Hassan II in 2018. But he has been unlucky with injuries and underwent three elbow surgeries across 2016 and 2017.

However, he did rebound to reach the last 16 at the US Open last season and with his greater affinity for clay-court tennis, could pose Verdasco a threat. There certainly looks to be little in this match, their sixth meeting in a head-to-head that Verdasco currently leads three wins to two. And Verdasco will surely take confidence from having beaten Andujar handily in Doha earlier this season. Expect a closer contest in Rio, but ultimately the same result.

Prediction: Verdasco in 3
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Albert Ramos Vinolas vs Carlos Alcaraz Garfia

Head-to-head: first meeting

The final match of the day on Quadra Guga Kuerten will a battle between youth and experience as experienced campaigner Albert Ramos Vinolas takes on the exciting prospect Carlos Alcaraz Garfia. Ramos Vinolas has won two titles in his career, both on clay, and also reached the final at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2017. He is not one of the biggest hitters on the tour, although he does possess a dangerous forehand, but he makes few mistakes from the baseline and covers the court well.

He will certainly pose a stern test for his teenaged compatriot Alcaraz Garfia. The 16-year-old has received a lot of attention in recent months thanks to his impressive exploits on the Challenger Tour. Last season, he was given a wildcard into the qualifying at the Barcelona Open, but lost in the first round to last week’s Argentina Open finalist Pedro Sousa. Nonetheless, he looks to have a bright future in the sport, although there is currently no shortage of young talent in the men’s game.

But it is hard to see a path to victory for the teenager at the Rio Open. Ramos Vinolas is a wily opponent and will want to be certain of avoiding the potential humiliation of losing to a player half his age and ranked outside the world’s top 400. Alcaraz Garfia, meanwhile, will need to try and contend not only with the quality of Ramos Vinolas, but also the nerves of playing on the biggest match of his fledgling career. Expect the elder man to prove too strong.

Prediction: Ramos-Vinolas in 2
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Roberto Carballes Baena vs Federico Delbonis

Head-to-head: Delbonis 2-0 Carballes Baena

This promises to be a close match, with this pair separated by only seven ranking spots in the world rankings. Federico Delbonis is most easily recognisable from his rather unique service motion. Unique, but effective enough. The Argentine has won two ATP Tour titles, both on clay, and beat Andy Murray at Indian Wells in 2016. Roberto Carballes Baena is also most at home on the clay, winning his first and thus far only title in Quito two years ago.

But he has struggled to establish himself as a tour-level regular since and he has lost both of his previous meetings with Delbonis, in Sao Paolo in 2018 and in Cordoba last season. However, he did take the Argentine the distance in Cordoba. Nonetheless, he is certainly the underdog here, with Delbonis possessing that much more power, particularly on the forehand. Inconsistency can be a problem for Delbonis, but provided he can rein that in, he should advance a winner in three sets.

Prediction: Delbonis in 3
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Christian Garin vs Andrej Martin

Head-to-head: Garin 2-1 Martin

Christian Garin has been one of the breakout players on the ATP Tour over the past year, with the Chilean having won three ATP titles in Houston, Munich and Cordoba in the last 12 months. That impressive run of form has taken him to a career-high ranking of world #25 and he will surely be one to watch for during the European clay-court season, including at Roland Garros. But he may need to be at his best when he takes on Slovakia’s Andrej Martin.

Martin plays the majority of his tennis at Challenger-level. But he did reach the final at the Croatia Open in Umag four years ago and the semifinals in Cordoba a fortnight ago, where he faced none other than Garin, taking the first set off the Chilean before succumbing to a 6-2 2-6 2-6 defeat. He has also beaten Garin before, at a Challenger in Rome in 2016. But if Garin is at his best, expect him to book his place in the second round at the Rio Open without encountering too many difficulties.

Prediction: Garin in 2

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