It’s been an incredible week of ATP tennis so far on the clay of Umag, with the matches continuing to deliver high-quality tennis and plenty of drama.
Tomorrow, four more singles matches are on the order of play, including a fascinating matchup between Jaume Munar and Jannik Sinner.
Who will win and who will fall short? I give my best guesses.
ATP Umag Day 3 Predictions
Roberto Carballes Baena vs Alex Molcan
Head to Head: 1-0 Carballes Baena
Roberto Carballes Baena beat Henri Laaksonen 6-4 7-5 to advance to the second round. Carballes Baena won 71% of his first-serve points, while holding Laaksonen to just 53% of his first serves won. Carballes Baena was able to break Laaksonen’s serve on four occasions. Alex Molcan defeated Duje Ajdukovic 6-2 7-6(2) in the first round. Molcan won 54% of his return points and broke Ajdukovic’s serve six times.
Carballes Baena leads the head to head 1-0, although that match was played in altitude in Carballes Baena’s home-country event in Madrid, so I don’t put much stock into it. Carballes Baena is fast around the court and is extremely consistent from the baseline. However, he lacks power on his groundstrokes and his serve is not a big weapon. Carballes Baena also doesn’t have great variety, as his slice, drop shots, and net game are all average.
Molcan has a high rally tolerance and fantastic variety. His slices and drop shots keep opponents off-balance and make it hard to get comfortable against the Slovak. Molcan can also ramp up the pace on his groundstrokes, but especially his forehand, when given the opportunity to do so.
Molcan has a more dynamic game than Carballes Baena. He can hang with Carballes Baena in long rallies, but has more power on his groundstrokes and the variety to keep Carballes Baena out of his comfort zone. There’s nothing that Carballes Baena can do to hurt Molcan in this matchup and it will show here.
Prediction: Molcan in 2
Daniel Elahi Galan vs Giulio Zeppieri
Head to Head: 1-0 Zeppieri
Daniel Galan battled past Fabio Fognini in the opening round of Umag in three sets. Galan was all over the Fognini serve, winning 49% of his return points and breaking on seven occasions. Giulio Zeppieri qualified for Umag and then took down Pedro Cachin from a set down to reach the second round. Zeppieri won 84% of his first-serve points and was only broken once against Cachin.
Zeppieri leads the head to head 1-0, having won a tight three-setter at a clay-court Challenger earlier this season. Zeppieri’s first serve is a weapon and he can control the baseline with his powerful, lefty forehand. However, the Italian’s backhand is erratic and can give up errors and short balls fairly regularly. Galan also has a big first serve and his game is more well-rounded than Zeppieri’s. I trust him, in the crucial moments, to have just a little bit better rally tolerance and control when trying to play offense.
Prediction: Galan in 3
Holger Rune vs Bernabe Zapata Miralles
Head to Head: 1-0 Rune
Holger Rune will be desperately looking to stop his six-match losing streak in Umag. In fact,e Rune has lost his nine sets, dating back to his loss against Ryan Peniston in Eastbourne. While Rune had a bye into the second round, Bernabe Zapata Miralles had to earn his way into this matchup. Zapata Miralles was in charge against Dino Prizmic before the Croat retired with an injury.
Rune leads the head to head 1-0, but they’ve never played on clay. Rune hits his spots on his first serve and typically plays with controlled aggression from the baseline, although the errors have piled up in recent matches. Zapata Miralles has a heavy forehand, with great precision and depth on his groundstrokes. He’s just more reliable from the baseline at the moment compared to Rune and should be able to squeeze this match out.
Prediction: Zapata Miralles in 3
Jaume Munar vs Jannik Sinner
Head to Head: never played
Jaume Munar recovered from a set deficit to pull out a tight first-round victory over Mikael Ymer. Munar won 77% of his first serves and dominated on Ymer’s second serve, winning 71% of the points on Ymer’s second serve. Jannik Sinner hasn’t played since coming one set away from the Wimbledon semifinals, but coming up just short against Novak Djokovic. The serving display and controlled aggression that Sinner showcased at the All England Club will be translatable off of grass.
These two have never played before. Munar is a grinder with incredible foot speed, remarkable endurance, and a very high rally tolerance. However, he struggles when needing to play offense and struggles to put the ball away. In addition, while he did well on his first serve against Ymer, Munar does not get many free points on his first delivery. Sinner’s rally tolerance isn’t quite as good, but he can get more free points on his first serve and hits with much more power than the Spaniard.
I think that Sinner will be able to dominate from the baseline and hit Munar off the court.
Prediction: Sinner in 2
Main Photo from Getty.