• Seeds could tumble on Casablanca day 1

    5/19/08 11:05 AM | Johan Lindahl
    Seeds could tumble on Casablanca day 1 Simon, Benneteau and Ramirez-Hidalgo, likely winners in Casablanca.

    Florent Serra (7) vs Gilles Simon

    It’s a very harsh draw for Serra, the 7th seed, drawn against Gilles Simon who would have been seeded no 2 if he’d entered. As it was, after a second round loss to Andy Murray in Hamburg last week, Simon (who was extremely unhappy with his form in that match) decided he was in urgent need of match practise and entered the Casablanca qualifying. After cruising through two matches, he’ll be adjusted to the different altitude and heat plus he holds a 3-1 head-to-head record against Serra winning 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in Cincinatti 2005 and again in Adelaide 2007. Serra has been in reasonable form over the clay season, making semis in Estoril and Tunisia but lost in round 1 of the Bordeaux challenger last week.

    Prediction: Simon in 3

    Julien Benneteau (5) vs Florian Mayer

    Mayer won their only previous encounter 6-3, 6-3 on the Monte Carlo clay 3 years ago. However, having been well inside the top 50 back then, Mayer didn’t build on what he’d achived and is now right down, just outside the top 100. Before the Dresden challenger last week he’d lost 9 straight matches going back to January. Benneteau’s also seen better days, he’s had a high of 35 a few years ago when he made week 2 in Roland Garros but he’s now ranked 60. He’s a very streaky player, on his day he can beat almost anyone but can’t manage it consistently week-in, week-out. He’s had great weeks in Auckland (semis) and Miami (round 4) this year beating the likes of Ferrer and Tsonga. However his clay season has been barren, coming through qualifying in Hamburg last week but losing to Moya in a tight round 1 match

    Prediction: Benneteau in 2

    Marc Gicquel (4) vs Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo

    Gicquel’s aggressive serve-volleying style has stood up well against Ramirez Hidalgo in the past, surprisingly beating the Spaniard in straight sets at the French Open a few years ago. Less surprising was Gicquel’s 6-2, 6-3 win indoors last autumn, giving him a 2-1 head-to-head lead. Although only ranked 148, Ramirez-Hidalgo has the habit of nearly pulling off huge upsets out of the blue. He nearly shocked Tim Henman at Wimbledon a few years ago before eventually losing in 5 sets and he will surely be haunted for a long time by the events of Monte Carlo last month, when he led Roger Federer 5-1 in the 3rd and incredibly still lost. It hasn’t affected him too much though, he made the semis in Marrakech last week.

    Prediction: Ramirez-Hidalgo in 3

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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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