Diego Schwartzman normally hasn’t been required to qualify for the main draw of grand slams in the last five or so years, but that’s what he’ll be required to do on Tuesday morning as Denis Kudla will look to extend the Argentine’s horror run on pretty well every surface.
It wasn’t eons ago that Schwartzman was sinking his teeth into tour-level tournaments on both hard courts and clay courts, winning a chip at Los Cabos and multiple titles on clay courts, putting aside his physical limitations and becoming a true fan favourite.
But it just hasn’t been the same for ‘Peque’ in recent times as his performances have slumped diabolically, even though the market is still pricing him up as someone who’s going to return to the level he once displayed – I don’t see it happening.
He’s now on the other side of 30 and has extremely short levers rendering him unable to generate game-changing speed, which is particularly costly on quick decks, just like the one we’re dealing with at Melbourne.
Denis Kudla has been knocking it around at the Challenger level for the last few seasons and even though it’s never felt like he’d make a return to the tour at a consistent basis, the results he’s put together in recent times are solid.
24-21 hard-court record with over 100 percent combined hold-break data, as well as a Challenger title at Columbus and a runner-up outing at Knoxville (Alex Michelsen).
If you planted Schwartzman in the same tournaments, given the issues he’s shown lately, I’m not sure he’d generate the same results.
Kudla will fancy his chances against someone he will easily out-power, and no doubt will be keen to dictate terms with his big serve and heavy ground strokes.
Schwartzman is obviously the more solid of the two from the baseline, and has quite a potent backhand, but given the overall lack of confidence and inability on quicker decks, I’m more than happy to take a chance on the American, here.
1 unit Denis Kudla +3.5 game handicap @ $1.98 with Pinnacle
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