Oeiras first-round previews and picks: Paire vs. Sijsling, Goffin vs. Sousa

Benoit Paire and David Goffin will kick off their Portugal Open campaigns on Monday. They are set for respective meetings with Igor Sijsling and Pedro Sousa.

Igor Sijsling vs. (6) Benoit Paire

Sijsling and Paire will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers but for the first time at the ATP main-draw level when they clash in round one of the Portugal Open on Monday. They faced each other three years ago in U.S. Open qualifying, with Paire prevailing 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. The Frenchman is a mediocre 12-12 this season, but he is up to a career-high ranking of No. 33 in the world (as of Sunday). Paire won one match last week in Barcelona before falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

Barcelona did not go well for Sijsling, who got blown out 6-1, 6-3 by Andrey Kuznetsov in the first round. That was the first clay-court match of 2013 for the 70th-ranked Dutchman, who generally fares much better on faster surfaces. Sijsling is 7-10 for the year, so both current form and surface point to a Paire victory.

Pick: Paire in 2

David Goffin vs. (WC) Pedro Sousa

Goffin broke onto the ATP scene just about at this time last season, but he is struggling to build on his breakout 2013 campaign. The 62nd-ranked Belgian is just 6-11 for the year after losing to Florian Mayer in the Bucharest second round last week. Still, Goffin is starting to play better. He reached the Miami third round last month and he has lost in the first round of only one tournament (Monte-Carlo) since February.

Up first for Goffin in Oeiras is Sousa, whom he has never faced. Ranked 218th in the world, Sousa obviously needed a wild card to gain entry into his home event in Portugal. The 24-year-old has never won a match in the main draw of an ATP event. He has played this one the last six years, four times falling in qualifying and twice in the first round after receiving wild cards. It’s hard to imagine Sousa providing much resistance in this one.

Pick: Goffin in 2

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