The run of the Cerundolos over the last few weeks has been quite something. Francisco reached the final in Buenos Aires last week, only losing to Diego Schwartzman, while his younger brother Juan Manuel even won his first ATP title in Cordoba the week prior. If you told me that when the season started, I would have probably classified you as an Argentinian dreamer or a high caliber tennis hipster.
Today, Juan Manuel faces Roberto Carballes Baena. The Spanish veteran beat Salvatore Caruso in round one and I considered the winner of that match as an outright selection before the tournament. It was a pretty intense match and Carballes Baena played some great tennis when the match was about to flip, eventually beating the Italian 6-4 7-6. The draws in Argentina haven’t been favorable for Carballes Baena as he ran into an in-form Thiago Monteiro twice. Just as Monteiro, Juan Manuel Cerundolo is a lefty, but I don’t consider this a real matchup problem for Carballes Baena as he has positive career stats over lefties and his backhand is solid enough to withstand forehand to backhand exchanges.
Generally speaking, the 27-year-old has seen anything on a clay court before and shouldn’t be surprised by Cerundolo’s tricky play today. He played over 600 matches on the surface throughout his pro career already, that’s more than Roger Federer or even Rafa Nadal. The Spaniard will be able to grind with Cerundolo and won’t get impatient when the Argentinian starts to annoy him with his moonballing.
In his first round match in Santiago, Cerundolo beat local hero Gonzalo Lama 7-5 6-2 after a slow start and an early 1-4 *15-40 deficit. With all due respect to the Chilean, but he never really got his career to the next level and shouldn’t beat anyone in an ATP field right now. While the preview sounds like I’m a little down on the younger Cerundolo brother, I do expect him to do damage on clay courts in the years to come. However, his momentum might have stopped a little and facing an experienced clay courter today, I’ll side with Carballes Baena’s solid play. Hats off to Juan Manuel if he continues his golden run at the Golden Swing.
1u on Carballes Baena to win at 1.87 with Bethard