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The J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open, from Roy Emerson Arena, starts July, 22, 2019.
The J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open, from Roy Emerson Arena, starts July, 22, 2019.|Gstaad.ch
Tennis

Tennis Monday: Abrams picks three clay matches at the Swiss Open – Moutet vs. Stebe, Fabbiano vs. Ehrat and Vesely vs. Gulbis

First match at 6 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open

Gstaad, Switzerland

Monday, July 22, 2019

Men’s First Round

Corentin Moutet over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe

Moutet is the 20-year-old French Hope of the Future. He’s all of 5’9” and 150 pounds, but he’s the real deal, and will eventually mature into one of the stud Frenchmen that Americans read about and then watch players from their own country go out and lose to. The current crop of Frenchmen are getting older, as Tsonga, Gasquet, Simon, Paire, Mahut, Herbert, Chardy, Mannarino, Monfils, Pouille, and Humbert are all within a couple of years of retiring . . . well, maybe not Humbert . . . Moutet is the clear favorite to take over for all of them. He should have little trouble grinding down German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, a 28-year-old journeyman who is sporting a 2019 record of 0-4, in the first round here on the clay in Gstaad. But if you get a chance, take a look at how much power off the ground Moutet is able to generate with the right technique and the correct way to transfer weight from back foot to front. When he plays on hard courts, it’ll happen so quickly that you won’t be able to make out his superior technique.

Thomas Fabbiano over Sandro Ehrat

What a difference a couple of weeks make. Going into Wimbledon Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano was one of the hottest men’s tennis players on the planet, carrying in enough momentum to pass “go” and collect $200. He carried that momentum well in London, and used it to score a gigantic first-round upset of 6th seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, and a masterfully impressive second round win over Dr. Ivo, Ivo Karlovic 6-4 in the fifth, before finally going down to tough Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in three close sets. The week before, Fabbiano had five straight wins before falling to American Sam Querrey in the semis of the tournament in Eastbourne, Great Britain, while showing that he was a dangerous force that needed to be reckoned with on the grass in England. Prior to that streak, Fabbiano was dangerous, but was not considered a scary opponent. He is now, and Sandro Ehrat and his ranking of No. 386 should be very wary. Fabbiano should prove to be too tough, too good, and ultimately too experienced for the Swiss journeyman to compete effectively.

Jiri Vesely over Ernests Gulbis

Ernests Gulbis was a dangerous player just five short years ago. In fact, five years ago, at age 25 he was ranked as high as No. 10 in the world. Today, Gulbis rarely wins matches, entering this tournament with a 5-15 record for 2019. Some of his drop in quality play is due to a severe wrist injury that took him three full years to recover from, but it’s never just one thing that causes a certain decline in a player. Maybe he has lost a bit of fight in his game, and perhaps his attitude has shifted from gritty to entitled, as his father is an especially successful investment banker, and Gulbis must see that he no longer needs to win in order to be financially secure. I really don’t know. But whatever it is, it has hurt the Latvian, and he won’t beat Czech Jiri Vesely, who already holds a 2-0 lifetime record against Gulbis. Vesely, at 6’6”, will roll out that big lefty serve and will dominate this matchup as few others are able to do on red clay.