The clay swing continues with a trip to Portugal. The field for the Estoril Open has that beautiful mixture of pure dirtballers, a home grown hope and some top class players who may well be more at home on a different surface. We begin on Day 1 with four matches.
ATP Estoril Day 1 Predictions
Soonwoo Kwon vs Benoit Paire
Paire’s record is full of losses at the moment. Somehow the mercurial Frenchman is still ranked inside the top 70, indeed higher than his opponent here, but the drop is surely coming and it could be a big one. Paire has lost eight out of nine first round matches, lost six in a row on clay, six in a row at this level and four in a row overall. Kwon also won their match on clay this time last year at Barcelona in straight sets. Clay is not the Korean’s best surface, but he had a decent run on the dirt last year and will be hoping to pick up some handy ranking points on the surface again. Take the Korean to repeat his triumph on Paire again here.
Prediction: Kwon in 2
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Pablo Andujar vs Nuno Borges
Head-to-Head: First meeting
The veteran Spaniard will have been looking forward to the European clay swing but it hasn’t quite lived up to expectations for him so far. Nuno Borges, though, is having an excellent season. The 25-year-old Portuguese is up at the top of his highest ranking and comes to this tournament off the back of another Challenger tournament victory, on the clay of Barletta in Italy. So although he gets his wildcard courtesy of his nationality he is a dangerous dark horse in this tournament. In fact, with his winning mentality at the moment and his skill level probably the equal of the Spaniard I think that Borges will progress here.
Prediction: Borges in 3
Federico Coria vs Bernabe Zapata Miralles
Head-to-Head: First meeting
This shapes up as a good, tight match. Return will be key here as both men are classic clay courters with a low serve win percentage around the 70% mark. Both men are also in pretty decent form, Zapata Miralles strolled through a fairly difficult qualification with ease whereas Coria ground out two three setters in Barcelona, beating Marcos Giron but going down to an in-form Grigor Dimitrov. To continue the similarities both men have won twice in the last twelve months on the Challenger circuit so have that winning mentality recently. In the end I am going to support Coria, to me it just seems as though his tennis has stepped up slightly in 2022 and he will be eyeing a deep run here to solidify his top 100 ranking.
Prediction: Coria in 3
Dusan Lajovic vs Frances Tiafoe
The American has won the last three in the head-to-head of these players, but conditions are different here as the previous matches were all either indoors or on hard court, both of which would usually favor Tiafoe over Lajovic. Having said that, the Serbian is having a shocker on the dirt too recently. He only has a 36% win rate over the last 12 months on the surface, which is worse than Tiafoe’s. It is difficult to see where Lajovic is going to find some form from at the moment and Tiafoe is likely to be the more confident of the players coming into the match. Tiafoe with confidence is a difficult man to stop and I think he will win this match.
Prediction: Tiafoe in 2
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