• Raonic takes on Gulbis, Istomin faces Melzer

    2/22/12 4:29 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Raonic takes on Gulbis, Istomin faces Melzer Milos Raonic will be back in action three days after winning the title in San Jose as he faces Ernests Gulbis on Wednesday. Denis Istomin and Jurgen Melzer are also looking for second-round spots.

    Ernests Gulbis vs. (4) Milos Raonic

    Raonic heads to the Regions Morgan Keegan Champions just as he did last year, fresh off a title in San Jose. The big-serving Canadian picked up right where left off, going all the way to the Memphis final before falling to Andy Roddick in a three-set thriller. Raonic is already an incredible 11-1 for his 2012 campaign, with his only loss coming to Lleyton Hewitt in round three of the Australian Open. He also captured the Chennai title to being the season.

    Up fist for Raonic on Wednesday in Memphis is a second career meeting with Gulbis. They faced each other last year on the clay courts of Monte-Carlo, where Raonic prevailed 6-4, 7-5. Gulbis would do well to win that many games this time, because he is in dreadful form. The 70th-ranked Latvian lost his opener in both of his tournaments this season and he is 1-7 in his last eight main-draw matches dating back to last year. Raonic in straight sets is the obvious choice.

    Jurgen Melzer vs. Denis Istomin

    Melzer and Istomin will be squaring off for the first time in their careers when they do battle in the Memphis first round on Wednesday. A huge edge in current form goes to Istomin, who is 9-4 for the season and coming off a runner-up finish in San Jose. The 49th-ranked Uzbek also reached the quarterfinals in Brisbane and the semifinals in Sydney.

    On the other hand, Melzer has been slumping ever since making a brief appearance in the Top 10 in 2010 and early 2011. The 30-year-old Austrian won a pair of Davis Cup singles rubbers earlier this month, but he is just 2-3 in ATP tournaments this year. Melzer is always dangerous on indoor hard courts because he has a big lefty serve, so this should be competitive. Look for Istomin to advance in three sets.

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