Joao Sousa squares off today against Roberto Bautista Agut in Gstaad.
Joao Sousa squares off today against Roberto Bautista Agut in Gstaad.|

Swiss Open Friday quarters: Abrams picks Fabbiano vs. Stebe, Lajovic vs. Andujar, Bautista Agut vs. Sousa, Carballes Baena vs. Ramos-Vinola

Matches start 4:30 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open

Gstaad, Switzerland

Friday, July 26, 2019

Men’s Quarterfinals

Thomas Fabbiano over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe

If Thomas Fabbiano continues to play the way he has recently he’s going to make my life very easy. Just pick him to win and sit back and enjoy the action. Only, this match isn’t going to be quite so easy. Stebe is on his way back from a myriad of injuries; in 2013 and 2015 he had hip and pelvis surgeries, and then two different wrist surgeries in 2018, five months apart, that have kept him from competing on the Tour. Now back, with a protected ranking, he’s making his way slowly, but improving match by match. I think the Frenchman, Fabbiano, is playing well enough to win this match, but Stebe has proven me wrong in the tournament already, beating both impressive French youngster Corentin Moutet and veteran Jiri Vesely to advance to the quarters.

Dusan Lajovic over Pablo Andujar

This is a tricky match. Although Lajovic is ranked way higher, at No. 26, and sports a 19-16 record in 2019, the Serbian has had an awful lot of difficulty with veteran Spaniard Pablo Andujar. Andujar came into this tournament ranked No. 79, with a 2019 record of only 4-9, but he has beaten Lajovic three out of the four times they’ve played. Believe me, players remember those matches in detail, and they both know that Andujar has been the dominant player in their personal rivalry. Still, I’m going to go with Lajovic, simply because he has been playing so darn well this year that I think he can overcome those distant memories (the last match they played was in 2015…but Andujar won it….) and start a new rivalry with this win here.

Roberto Bautista Agut over Joao Sousa

Even though RBA is the top seed here in Gstaad, Joao Sousa has had the easier draw. First he beat Steve Darcis, another player coming back from injury who gained entry due to his protected ranking, and then Italian rookie Gian Marco Moroni, ranked No. 265 in the world. Sousa, who was born in Portugal and now lives in Spain, was lucky. Now he plays the only truly top-tier international tennis player in this draw, RBA, who is ranked 13th in the world. RBA is a dominating 29-12 this year, and although the ATP reports than he holds a 3-2 advantage in his personal rivalry with Sousa (in fact, he won the last three matches they’ve played, notable for the sake of momentum), he also won all four of the matches they played in Challengers, to make RBA’s dominance really 7-2. I think that dominance will continue.

Roberto Carbelles Baena over Albert Ramos-Vinolas

Is there a law in Spain that all of their tennis players have to go by three names? It sure makes it hard for those of us who aren’t Spanish, I can tell you that. Now in this match, calling it is made harder by how close in ability and accomplishment these two are. Baena is ranked 74, Ramos-Vinolas is 85. Ramos-Vinolas holds a 3-2 advantage in their personal rivalry, and with two early round victories here Baena is 15-14 for the year, while Ramos-Vinolas is now 19-17. But, maybe even more importantly, they just played last week in Sweden and Ramos-Vinolas took a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory in the quarters in Bastad. Ramos-Vinolas had a great week earlier this spring in Rome where he took out Juame Munar and Bernie Tomic, both in qualifying and then beat Gael Monfils in the main draw, but balanced out those wins with first round losses to Stevie Johnson, Guido Andreozzi, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, and Peter Torebko (who?), the last two who were ranked 268 and 534. Carbelles Baena has had his share of boners this year too (losses to Harry Bourchier, 463, Jose Hernandez-Fernandez, 277, and Daniel Masur, 251), but it seems that he has been the more consistent player. For the most part he has beaten most of the guys he’s been ranked above, and lost to the guys who he looks up to in the rankings. Although this match is really a “pick-em”, I’m going with Carbelles Baena because he has shown just a tad more consistency, but I’m not very confident.

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