Day four at the Rio De Janeiro Open and things are starting to heat up. We have plenty of matches to sink our teeth into including clay-court specialist Sebastian Baez’s match-up against red-hot Juan Pablo Varillas, South American Francisco Cerundolo’s bout against the plucky Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles and top seed Carlos Alcaraz’s battle against Fabio Fognini. We also have predictions for matches featuring Dusan Lajovic.
ATP Rio De Janeiro Day 4 Predictions
Juan Pablo Varillas vs Sebastian Baez
Head-to-head: Baez 5-2 Varillas (all levels)
Ridiculously, Sebastian Baez and Juan Pablo Varillas played a total of five matches in 2021. These two are well used to playing each other recently and won’t be surprised by anything the other brings to the table.
This probably gives the advantage to Baez however. Varillas has a knack for raising his game under pressure and Baez won’t be caught by surprise–he’ll know playing passively on the big points won’t cut it against the surprisingly tough Peruvian. That said, even if you know what’s coming, Varillas’ game can be immense on this surface. We rate his game enough to give him a set but Baez should know how to approach this match-up well enough by now to get the win.
Prediction: Baez in 3.
Francisco Cerundolo vs Bernabe Zapata Miralles
Head-to-head: Zapata Miralles 1-0 Cerundolo
Nothing is missing in Francisco Cerundolo’s game. He went on a streak of hard-court losses last year drawing questions about his form but, on the red dirt, there’s no mistaking it, Cerundolo is in his element. He’s still experiencing some rust from frequent losses but he’s ground his teeth to win two matches this Golden Swing that have gone 5-5 in the third.
Bernabe Zapata Miralles defeated him last week but it feels as though things will only get easier for the Argentinian as he’s becoming more and more comfortable teeing off on that forehand–he wasn’t been afforded the time to set up that shot for the latter half of last season. It won’t be easy but we trust in Cerundolo’s ability to find his best tennis during this portion of the tour.
Prediction: Cerundolo in 3.
Carlos Alcaraz vs Fabio Fognini
Head-to-head: Alcaraz 1-0 Fognini
Carlos Alcaraz and Fabio Fognini played at Rio a year ago and Fognini did well to keep things close for the best part of a set. After rattling through Buenos Aires last week though, there’s no doubt Alcaraz is in similar form as last year, especially on this surface where very few players have the weaponry to hurt him.
Fognini could light things up for a while but it shouldn’t be enough to knock the Spaniard off his stride in the long run. Barring a Fognini-esque miracle, how can we back anything but straight sets here?
Prediction: Alcaraz in 2.
Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports