• Benneteau bids for return to Sydney final

    1/6/13 5:13 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Benneteau bids for return to Sydney final Julien Benneteau will kick off his 2013 Sydney campaign on Monday against Pablo Andujar. Benneteau finished runner-up last year to Jarkko Nieminen.

    Julien Benneteau and Pablo Andujar will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they do battle in round one of the Apia International on Monday. Andujar won both of their previous encounters on clay in 2011; 6-3, 6-4 in Nice and 6-2, 6-2 in Hamburg.

    Just about everything suggests the tide will turn this time. Benneteau is much better than his opponent on hard courts and he is in far superior form at the moment. The 35th-ranked Frenchman, who finished runner-up to Jarkko Nieminen at the 2012 Sydney event, compiled a 27-23 record last season.

    Andujar, on the other hand, has been playing ghastly hard-court tennis. The 42nd-ranked Spaniard lost his last seven matches of 2012 and he did not come close to winning a set in any of his last four. Andujar picked up where he left off in Doha, falling in the first round to Lukas Rosol in straight sets.

    Benneteau, meanwhile, is looking to bounce back from a Brisbane first-round loss to a familiar foe--Nieminen.

    The only way Andujar can win this one is if Benneteau allows him to play strictly from the baseline and wage a groundstroke battle. More likely, however, the favorite will play aggressive tennis and force the issue. Benneteau in straight sets is the pick.

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