• Berdych faces Gulbis, Tsonga takes on Davydenko

    2/20/13 5:02 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Berdych faces Gulbis, Tsonga takes on Davydenko Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will bid for quarterfinal spots in Marseille on Wednesday. They are going up against Ernests Gulbis and Nikolay Davydenko, respectively.

    (1) Tomas Berdych vs. (WC) Ernests Gulbis

    Berdych will get another shot at Gulbis when the two big hitters square off for the fifth time in their careers at the Open 13 on Wednesday afternoon. Gulbis evened their head-to-head series at 2-2 by stunning Berdych 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 7-6(4) in last summer’s Wimbledon first round. The Latvian also got the best of Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) on the indoor hard courts of Memphis in 2010. Berdych’s two victories came three years ago in Washington and one season later on the clay courts of Nice.

    Now a staple of the Top 10, Berdych has only improved since Wimbledon–with a semifinal at the U.S. Open and a quarterfinal in Melbourne among his highlights. Gulbis has been in a nonstop slump, but he won a round last week in Rotterdam and he crushed Jarkko Nieminen in his Marseille opener on Tuesday. If the wild card serves lights out, another upset is possible. But while Berdych has become a model of consistency (by his standards, at least), Gulbis has been unable to prove of late that he can put together two straight impressive performances at the ATP level. Berdych in straight sets is the pick.

    (3) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Nikolay Davydenko

    Tsonga and Davydenko also have a relatively surprising head-to-head history heading into another blockbuster second-round matchup in Marseille. Davydenko has won two of their three previous encounters, although that can be explained in part by the fact that they have faced each other only once since 2008. Tsonga won their most recent meeting 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 last fall in Metz, a result that was preceded by Davydenko victories in 2007 and 2008. This is their fourth straight clash on an indoor hard court.

    Davydenko is a different player in his 30s, but he has displayed flashes of his former self this season. The veteran Russian finished runner-up in Doha and he did well to hold off Sergiy Stakhovsky in three sets on Tuesday. Tsonga, who earned a first-round bye as the No. 3 seed, is trying to bounce back from an opening upset loss in Rotterdam to Igor Sijsling. At home in France and on this surface, there is no reason why Tsonga should not overpower Davydenko in straights.

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