With Novak Djokovic taking the title at the Australian Open, we move to the part of the tennis calendar between the Australian Open and Indian Wells. Who will gain momentum on the indoor hard courts of France at the ATP Montpellier? Read on to find out!
ATP Montpellier Day 1 Predictions
Emil Ruusuvuori vs Nicolas Mahut
Head to Head: never played
In the final qualifying round of Montpellier, Emil Ruusuvuori takes on Nicolas Mahut. Ruusuvuori was one set away from the Bendigo I Challenger title, but fell just short. In the semifinals of Australian Open qualifying, he suffered a shock defeat to Elliot Benchetrit. However, Ruusuvuori beat Matthias Bachinger in straight sets to start his Montpellier campaign.
Mahut lost in the first round of Australian Open qualifying to Mario Vilella Martinez, but beat Hugo Gaston in the opening round of qualifying in Montpellier. At 38 years of age, it’s fair to question how many more years Mahut has of top-level tennis. Ruusuvuori’s powerful serve and groundstrokes should make things very uncomfortable for Mahut. Mahut will come to the net a bunch, but Ruusuvuori has the groundstrokes to be able to pass him with ease. While the French crowd will be on Mahut’s side, Ruusuvuori will win this match comfortably.
Prediction: Ruusuvuori in 2
Joao Sousa vs Gregoire Barrere
Head to Head: 1-0 Sousa
Joao Sousa takes on Gregoire Barrere in first round action in Montpellier. Sousa has had both a really tough end to 2019 and start to 2020. Combined, he has five matches in a row and did not win a set in his two matches so far this season. Barrere has had a solid start to the season. His heavy forehand and serve are big weapons for him.
Sousa leads the head to head 1-0, having won in three sets in the 2018 Paris Indoors qualifying tournament. Expect Sousa to break his losing streak here. Sousa, while a good clay courter, can also play indoors and his rally tolerance is higher than Barrere’s. While Barrere will be playing in his home country, that won’t bother Sousa and he will pick up his first win in 2020.
Prediction: Sousa in 3
Norbert Gombos vs Pablo Carreno Busta
Head to Head: 1-0 Carreno-Busta
Norbert Gombos battles Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the second round of Montpellier. Gombos did well to qualify for the Australian Open, but lost in the first round to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Carreno Busta made the third round of the Australian Open, but lost easily to Nadal.
Carreno Busta leads the head to head 1-0, but that win came on a clay court in 2013. Gombos can serve big and hit big groundstrokes, but there are also times when he is wild from the baseline. Carreno Busta, the consistent player that he is, will be able to pounce on Gombos when the Slovakian has these lulls. Carreno Busta moves on.
Prediction: Carreno Busta in 2
Aljaz Bedene vs Vasek Pospisil
Head to Head: 2-1 Bedene
In the first round of Montpellier, Aljaz Bedene takes on Vasek Pospisil. Bedene played great indoor tennis towards the end of last season. He has a sneaky big serve and really solid groundstrokes. The Montpellier indoor conditions should also suit Vasek Pospisil, who likes to get into the net and is a great volleyer. Both players have had decent starts to the season.
The head to head is 2-1 to Bedene, with all matchups occurring on hard courts. The difference in this match is that Bedene is a little more consistent with his groundstrokes, so in the tight moments, he is less likely to commit that crucial unforced error. For that reason, I like Bedene in this one.
Prediction: Bedene in 3
Main Photo from Getty.