The last of the ATP clay-court action continues this week in Kitzbuhel. Day 3 sees the second round get underway, with plenty of mouth-watering clashes to get excited about. As throughout the week, we will be offering up our predictions on the day’s play. So, who is heading into the next round?
ATP Kitzbuhel Day 3 Predictions
Albert Ramos-Vinolas vs Juan Pablo Varillas
Head-to-head: Ramos-Vinolas 2 -0
This is one match that all clay court fans should be excited about. Ramos-Vinolas is still playing top level tennis, and to this day remains one of the most consistent players on tour. He is rock solid, a strong ball striker, and has a great tennis IQ. Beating him on clay is a tough task for anyone, and he could well be a contender this week.
Varillas may be somewhat of a late bloomer, with his best tennis being on display at 26 years of age. He gave Felix Auger-Aliassime an almighty fright at the French Open and he’s constantly proving he can mix it with the best, albeit solely on the clay. Though he’s playing great, Ramos-Vinolas has all the tools and answers for this matchup. Varillas will come out firing, but the veteran Spaniard was built to grind out wins, ad I expect he’ll do the same here.
Prediction: Ramos-Vinolas in 3
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Jurij Rodionov
Head-to-head: First meeting
Bautista Agut is yet to rediscover the form that put him in the top 10, but he’s still an exceptional player. Despite being a Spaniard, he’s not particularly suited to the clay. He’s a good player on the surface, but his best tennis always comes on grass courts and quick hard courts like in Qatar.
Rodionov is someone I’ve had my eye on for a while now. His lefty game is really exciting to watch, and he’s more than capable of playing at a good level. Unfortunately, he’s yet to develop a killer weapon and I feel this is holding him back from reaching the top 100. I can see him playing great for a set, especially given he’s a wildcard at his home tournament. However, Bautista Agut is all too likely grind him down and draw the errors from the Austrian’s racket.
Prediction: Bautista Agut in 3
Jiri Lehecka vs Joao Sousa
Head-to-head: First meeting
Lehecka caught the eye of many with his stunning run to the semifinals in Rotterdam this year. Understandably, it’s taken some adjusting to get up to speed with regular ATP tournaments along with appearances at Challengers. He’s now doubt an exciting talent, but hasn’t managed much of a breakthrough run on clay yet.
Sousa is a in a strange patch in his career. After his great comeback to the tour, he’s been incredibly inconsistent for a while. The Portuguese hits a very hard flat ball, and has the ability to boss his opponents around the court. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know whether he’ll come out firing or missing. That said, he looked good in his win over Kopriva and I expect he’ll have enough to overcome this test.
Prediction: Sousa in 3
Dominic Thiem vs Sebastian Ofner
Head-to-head: Thiem 1 – 0
How good is to see Dominic Thiem winning again? The 2020 US Open champion has been having a torrid time for a while, but it seems that he’s finally on the right path now. He’s won five of his last seven matches, and arrived here on the back of quarterfinal in Bastad as well as a semifinal in Gstaad. Thiem looked really good in his straight sets win over Shevchenko, and it looks like his confidence is growing match by match.
Ofner, a fellow Austrian, pulled off a fantastic upset on Tuesday. Not many would have expected it, but he did an immense job to topple the crafty Frenchman. This will be a tough test, one would think. Ofner has no real weapons, and the former #3’s groundstrokes are certainly returning to full power. A resurgent Dominic Thiem means potentially bad news for the ATP players who’ve benefited from his absence, and he will take some stopping this week if he keeps this up. Thiem should be too good here.
Prediction: Thiem in 2
Main Photo from Getty.