• Cilic takes on Haase at Croatia Open

    7/27/11 9:13 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Cilic takes on Haase at Croatia Open Marin Cilic will contest his Umag opener against Robin Haase on Thursday. Top-seeded Juan Ignacio Chela is also bidding for a spot in the semifinals.

    (4) Marin Cilic vs. Robin Haase

    Cilic and Haase will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers at the ATP level when they do battle in the second round of the Studena Croatia Open on Thursday. Both of their previous meetings have gone in Cilic's favor and he won their lone clay-court clash 7-6(6), 6-2, 7-6(4) in the first round of the 2008 French Open. The 6'6'' Croat has dropped to No. 31 in the rankings, but he is a decent 25-14 for the season and earned an opening-round bye as Umag's fourth seed.

    Haase played his way into this matchup by battling past qualifier Simone Vagnozzi 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. The 52nd-ranked Dutchman is now 16-18 for his 2011 campaign, which includes third-round appearances at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. An upset is possible and this one will likely come down to which man can dictate play by putting in a high percentage of first serves. With a slight home-court advantage, look for Cilic to get the job done in three sets.

    (1) Juan Ignacio Chela vs. Potito Starace

    Chela and Starace will be squaring off for the seventh time in their careers when they meet in the Umag second round on Thursday. The head-to-head series is tied up at three apiece, although Starace has won three of their four clay-court encounters. They most recently faced each other in the semifinals of this same event last year, when Starace advanced 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2 en route to a runner-up finish.

    The 54th-ranked Italian got off to another good start this week by overcoming Thiemo De Bakker 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-1 in his opener. Starace is now an even 19-19 for the season, which has been highlighted by a runner-up showing in Casablanca. Chela, recipient of a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed, is 23-15 and registers at 21st in the world rankings. This could go either way as their past history suggests, but an in-form Chela in three sets is the pick.

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