I’ve watched 2 recent matches with Montañés in Nice. Currently the Spaniard performs well, having ousted Querrey and Mayer from Argentina. But a 3-set match against Querrey and 3 sets again Mayer took a toll and at the end the Spanish player looked completely worn out. After all, he is not that young. 33 years is a watershed for tennis players, especially playing slow clay tennis. In the semifinal he’s taking on Gulbis from Latvia. Today Ernests has showed amazing tennis against Tursunov, the Russian player even served for the match. But…in the semifinal we’ll see the Latvian player. This clay season is very successful for him: good strokes and reliable service game. Noteworthy, that Gulbis leads Montañes 4-1 in their head-to-head series. And all matches he took with a significant negative handicap.
Another key issue is players’ motivation for the semifinal. For Gulbis the tournament in Nice is more important than for the Spaniard. First of all, next week the French Open in Roland Garros starts. Time of big money and high ranking points. High-ranked Gulbis, displaying aggressive and energetic tennis, when seeded will be drawn to face some average opponent. So now he can take the Nice tournament seriously. The matter with Montañes is quite different. Shall he win the first two rounds in the French capital, he would gain much more, both in cash and in rankings. So the final in Nice is not of high priority for him. And to make it to the final one needs to do his best on the court. Moreover, if he still reaches the final, the tournament in Nice would end up for him only on Saturday, which means that the preparation for RG would be rushed and tiresome. Does he need it? I doubt it. Personally, I expect some struggle at the beginning of the match. And if he loses the first set, it would be meaningless to waste further time and efforts. I guess we would witness a failed set which perfectly suits the negative handicap on Gulbis.
Gulbis - Montanes. Hcap Gulbis-3,5. Odds- 2.04.
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