• Mayer, Stepanek square off in Paris first round

    11/7/11 4:39 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Mayer, Stepanek square off in Paris first round Florian Mayer looks to continue his impressive fall campaign as he takes the court on Monday in Paris. Up first for the German is Radek Stepanek.

    Florian Mayer and Radek Stepanek will be meeting for the fourth time in their careers and for the third time this season when they do battle in round one of the BNP Paribas Masters on Monday.

    Mayer leads the head-to-head series 2-1 but they have split a pair of hard-court encounters in 2011. Stepanek prevailed 6-3, 6-3 to open the year in Brisbane before Mayer got revenge a month later with a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory in Zagreb.

    The edge in current form goes to Mayer, who has earned nine match victories since the U.S. Open. He won a clay-court title in Bucharest, upset Rafael Nadal en route to the Shanghai Masters quarterfinals, and is coming off a quarterfinal showing in Basel. The 22nd-ranked German is now 44-25 for the season and he just barely missed out on seeding in Paris.

    Stepanek is still going strong at 32 years old, as he registers at a solid 26th in the rankings. The veteran Czech is an even 4-4 in tournament play during the current hard-court swing, which includes a quarterfinal finish in Tokyo. Stepanek beat Santiago Giraldo last week in Basel before going down to Andy Roddick in three sets.

    Hard courts generally favor Stepanek in this matchup, but they may not be fast enough in Paris in order for him to halt Mayer's hot streak. Unless Stepanek serves extremely well and minimizes baseline rallies, look for Mayer to advance in three.

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