[Editor’s note: For this preview, we once again leave you in the capable typing hands of Mr. Jonathan Artman, our New Caledonian Bureau Chief. Give him a holler on the Twitter @jonnyboy613 or, alternately, holler at him in the comments.]
Flavio Cipolla v David Guez
A favourite with the locals and a former Champion in the New Caledonian island, Flavio Cipolla of Italy will face off against the vastly experienced Frenchman David Guez for a place in the quarterfinals. In the last round Cipolla saw off compatriot Matteo Viola in straight sets whereas Guez dealt similar damage to his South African opponent, Fritz Wolmarans. In some ways Guez’s comfortable victory was a surprise as Wolmarans had hugely impressed at the backend of the 2010 season. Moreover, the Frenchman’s form had deteriorated rapidly as the season progressed, but his victory on Monday may be a sign that he is looking to 2011 for a fresh start and a new chapter in his indifferent tennis career.
Cipolla thrives on the courts and is clearly comfortable with the tropical weather and conditions. Apart from winning the title here a few years ago, he was also a beaten finalist last year against the German Florian Mayer, who is now well inside the top 50 of the rankings.
The Italian actually turned pro in 2003 at age 20, which is quite late for such a player; some Pros now reach that status as young as 16 or 17. Cipolla has shown signs of his burgeoning potential in the past after taking Stanislas Wawrinka to 5 sets in 2008 at Flushing Meadows.
It is somewhat difficult to decide on what to expect from David Guez due to his inconsistencies in the past so I will have to predict a Cipolla victory, especially with this impressive history at this tournament. This match could very well go the distance.
All that and a bag of Cips
Josselin Ouanna v Rik de Voest
Another big match on Wednesday will pit the Frenchman Ouanna against big South African Rik de Voest.
De Voest enjoyed some success last year plying his trade on the US Challenger circuit and on several occasions managed to progress to the latter stages of those tournaments, most recently in Knoxville in November where he reached the ¼ finals before falling to Robert Kendrick 6-4, 6-4.
Ouanna is an interesting player who can hit the ball sweetly, however – like many players of his ranking – he has failed to find the consistency in the past that would enable him to rise up the rankings. Currently the Frenchman finds himself at 157 in the rankings; for a man of his talent he will be disappointed he is not nearer the top 100 at the very least. At 24, however, there is plenty of time to find his peak and fulfil his potential. After all, look at Jurgen Melzer…
The South African certainly has experience on his side having been around for a good few more years than his French counterpart. However the local favourite arguably possesses more natural talent so despite De Voest’s imposing figure I think Ouanna should be able to negotiate himself through this fixture and seal a place in the Quarters. This is another match that could be very tight and 3 sets is on the cards.
Gilles Muller v Clement Reix
Gilles Muller will face local favourite Clement Reix for another spot in the quarterfinals. Muller defeated Thai Danai Udomchoke as expected but surprisingly somewhat struggled in conceding a set. The big lefty who hails from Luxembourg should face an easier test today against Reix, who at 27 years old and currently ranked at 280, with his highest rank being just 3 places higher, is dearly struggling to make a name for himself with age not on his side in terms of tennis career span.
Reix spends the majority of his playing time on the Futures circuit but had some success in Challengers last year going 12-9 (W-L). He actually saw off Marsel Ilhan, the Turkish player now inside the top 100, in Bercy qualifiers.There is not much more one can say about this encounter other than that it would be a huge surprise if Muller did not progress to the quarter-finals. Reix simply doesn’t possess sufficient weapons in his armoury to trouble his opponent and home advantage will do little to help his cause I feel, rather like Yuki Bhambri in his disappointing defeat to the ever-improving Alexandre Kudryavtsev in ATP Chennai. Muller in straights.
Vincent Millot v Amir Weintraub
Also of some interest will be the match between the Frenchman Vincent Millot, a “giant killer” of sorts by sending Marc Gicquel packing in straight sets, against Amir Weintraub of Israel. Weintraub is a very interesting prospect who has now won 8 consecutive matches. This includes 5 victories in the Israeli National Championships where he secured a stunning victory over his vastly experienced opponent Dudi Sela. Amir saw off local boy Olivier Patience in 3 sets, having lost the first set by a 6-1 scoreline which might have suggested a thrashing was in store. Far from it – The Israeli rallied to win the next 2 sets 6-3, 6-3 and deservedly earned himself a chance to cause another upset and advance to the quarter-finals.
Millot achieved an impressive result in his own right in beating Gicquel who has a proud history in the game having once been ranked in the top 40. On his day Gicquel was more than capable of mixing it with the big boys so this is a creditable result without a doubt. Weintraub will head in to this match full of confidence and without any inhibitions on the back of an 8 match winning streak. Millot has shown signs of improvement and potential both last season and already in 2011 with his victory over Guez but I am going for the upset….the Israeli to advance to the quarter-finals in a thrilling 3 set victory.
Round-up and preview of Thursday’s action to come tomorrow.