It’s Spain against France in Sunday’s ATP Hamburg final, as World No.14, Nicolas Almagro takes on World No.18, Gilles Simon. Can Almargo live up to the 1/2 betting odds that the tennis handicappers have give him?
For ATP Hamburg final contender, Nicolas Almagro, 2011 has been hugely
successful so far. The Spaniard has already reached four tour finals
and has three titles to his name. Those three wins came in Nice,
Buenos Aires and Costa Du Sauipe and, perhaps crucially for
tomorrow’s encounter, they have all come on clay courts. Indeed, of
the 13 career singles finals Almagro has appeared in, all 13 of them
have come on clay.
As well as Almagro has played this
year, this is certainly the biggest event he’s reached the final in
and whilst the 25-year-old Spaniard has been hugely successful in the
ATP 250 events, a 500 event is a different matter and there will be a
little more pressure in the final than he may be used to.
Quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 2008
and 2010 are the best Almagro has managed at the Grand Slam events
and he’s never been further than round 4 in any of the other Slams.
Gilles Simon has not been as successful
as Almagro in 2011. A promising start to the year saw him win the
title in Sydney but this is the Frenchman’s first final since and
he has been nowhere near his best form in 2011. Unlike Almagro, Simon
has won just three of his eight career titles on clay and whilst he
has shown he is clearly an accomplished clay court player, the
26-year-old has had marginally more success on hard courts.
Almagro, the best Simon can offer in terms of Grand Slam success is a
quarter-final of the French Open, but he did make the fourth round in
Paris this year and has shown this week that he is comfortable on the
surface and playing some great tennis.
The road to the final
Both men have had tough runs to the
final, but it’s Almagro who has looked more impressive en route.
The Spaniard hasn’t dropped a set all week and made light work of
his semi-final victory over fellow countryman, Fernando Verdasco on
Saturday. After taking a tight first set, 6-4, Almagro raced away
with the second to win it 6-1 and book his place in Sunday’s final.
Whilst Simon has made harder work of
his passage through to the final, his results have been just as
impressive, and after dropping the opening set to Mikhail Youzhny in
Saturday’s semi-final, the Frenchman did remarkably well to dig in
and bounce back to win the following two sets.
eye-catching performance over Gael Monfills in the quarterfinals
leaves no doubt that Simon deserves his place in the final here and
there’s no question he’ll be feeling confident of pulling off
another surprise victory.
These two have only met on two previous
occasions and have both won one match each. The most recent of the
two matches came just last year on hard courts and it was Simon who
won in straight sets, although both sets were settled on tie-breaks.
Maybe most importantly however, their
only other meeting came on clay back in 2006 and it was Almagro who
won 6-2, 6-3 on that occasion.
The tennis handicappers seem fairly
sure which way they expect this one to go and have Almagro priced up
as the 1/2 tennis odds favourite, whilst you can do as well as 2/1 for Gilles
Simon to come out on top.
Almagro has not only been far more
successful than Simon across 2011, he has also looked the more
assured and in-from player here in Hamburg. Simon will be thrilled
with his week, but he’ll be hoping for a drop in standard from
Almagro and he’s probably going to need that to happen if he is to
go on and win this event.
Nicolas Almagro to win – 1/2 - Victor Chandler
Akmagro 2-0 – Evens – Paddy Power
Second set score – 6-2 Almagro –
11/2 – William Hill