Day 4 of the ATP Nordea Open in Bastad is here! It’s been an incredible week of clay-court tennis under the Swedish sun and things are heating us as we look to complete Friday’s quarterfinal lineup with these round of 16 matches. Who will win and who will fall short? I give my best guesses below!
ATP Bastad Day 4 Predictions
Norbert Gombos vs Emil Ruusuvuori
Head to Head: 2-0 Gombos
Norbert Gombos surprised Pablo Cuevas, taking out Cuevas from a set-and-a-break down. Gombos’ first serve was strong, winning 77% of his first-serve points, and he attacked the second serve of Cuevas well, with the man from Uruguay only winning 33% of his second-serve points. Emil Ruusuvuori did well to comeback from a set deficit and beat home-favorite Mikael Ymer in three sets. Ruusuvuori really did a great job dictating play from the baseline as the match went on and won 75% of his first-serve points in the second and third sets of that match, only getting broken once.
Gombos leads the head to head 2-0, including a three-set win on the clay of Parma earlier this season. This will be a match where first-strike tennis is paramount and will come down to who can control the baseline, while keeping their groundstrokes under control. Compared to their earlier meeting this season in Parma, I think that Ruusuvuori is finally finding his game again. He was wild from the baseline for a large portion of this season, but seems to be reining things in a bit. In addition, Gombos plays hit-and-miss tennis and his level has dropped from the time of their earlier meeting. Expect Ruusuvuori to edge this match out due to just having a little better rally tolerance than Gombos.
Prediction: Ruusuvuori in 3
Holger Rune vs Casper Ruud
Head to Head: 1-0 Ruud
Holger Rune has played a lot of clay-court tennis this year and has advanced his game so that he is dangerous from both wings now. Rune’s first-serve percentage against Albot went up from 53% in the first set, to 67% in the second set, to 80% in the third set, giving Albot fewer opportunities to attack second serves. Casper Ruud will be playing his first match on clay since the French Open, a surface that has treated the Norwegian well. Ruud has won both of his ATP Tour titles on clay, including at the Geneva Open earlier this season. Holger Rune did well to come back from a set-and-a-break down to beat Radu Albot in the first round of Bastad.
Ruud leads the head to head 1-0, having only lost 3 games to Rune earlier this season on the clay of Monte Carlo. While Rune has improved from the time of that match, I do wonder if he has the game to beat Ruud at this stage in his career. While Rune is aggressive from both wings, he doesn’t have the power that Ruud’s forehand can bring to the table, and Rune will be forced to defend a lot more than he is used to. I think that Ruud wins the battle-for-the-baseline in this match and Rune won’t quite have the counterpunching capabilities to stay with Ruud. Expect it to be a bit closer than Monte Carlo, but still not good enough for the Dane to win.
Prediction: Ruud in 2
Henri Laaksonen vs Elias Ymer
Head to Head: never played
Henri Laaksonen was striking the ball so smoothly in his first-round upset of Lorenzo Musetti. Laaksonen did especially well on the return, winning 46% of his return points. Elias Ymer did well to come back from *0-3 down in the third set to beat Taro Daniel in his first singles match of the Bastad tournament. Ymer is very solid from the baseline and ramps up the aggression when he has the chance to. Against Daniel, Ymer impressively won 75% of his first-serve points and 66% of his second-serve points.
These two have never played before, which is surprising given they both like to play clay-court Challengers. Ymer and Laaksonen will both be stable from the baseline, but Laaksonen ramps up the aggression a bit more, while Ymer is steadier. I still think fatigue will eventually catch up to Laaksonen, who played the semifinals and final of a Challenger all on Saturday last week, then started playing Bastad qualifying on Sunday and has went three sets in all three of his matches in Sweden. Eventually all of those matches catches up to players, and I expect him to start to look a bit weary, which Ymer will take advantage of. Ymer will also have home-court advantage in Sweden. Ymer wins this one, barely.
Prediction: Ymer in 3
Roberto Carballes Baena vs Fabio Fognini
Head to Head: never played
Roberto Carballes Baena had a great start to the tournament, taking down an in-form Facundo Bagnis in straight sets. Carballes Baena put a ton of pressure on the Bagnis serve, winning 48% of his return points and breaking Bagnis five times. Fabio Fognini hasn’t played on clay since Roland Garros. Fognini is so mercurial, who knows if he will play up to his potential or tank this match.
These two have played before. Carballes Baena is the stereotypical “dirt baller.” He is extremely consistent from both wings and forces his opponents to earn everything against him. Fabio Fognini is an incredible clay-court player when he puts his mind to it, with the easy power, movement, finesse, and precision of his groundstrokes truly outstanding. However, he frequently has mental walkabouts during matches and doesn’t always care about the matches he participates in. With that said, he should still have too much game for Carballes Baena. The Spaniard doesn’t have anything in his arsenal to hurt Fognini with beyond his consistency, which should allow Fognini to dictate from the baseline and play his style of tennis. While Fognini might go away for a set, expect the Italian to prevail in the end.
Prediction: Fognini in 3
Main Photo from Getty.