Finals previews and picks: Fognini vs. Robredo, Youzhny vs. Haase

Fabio Fognini will be going for three titles in three weeks when he takes the court on Sunday in Umag against Tommy Robredo. A surprising, Swiss-free title match in Gstaad pits Mikhail Youzhny against Robin Haase.

Umag final: (3) Fabio Fognini vs. (5) Tommy Robredo

Fognini did not win a single ATP title in the first 26 years and one month of his life. He now has a chance to win three in the last three weeks on Sunday in the Vegeta Croatia Open final. The on-fire Italian has won 13 matches in a row, a stretch that includes triumphs in Stuttgart and Hamburg. So far in Umag, Fognini has dismissed Thiemo De Bakker, Martin Klizan, and Gael Monfils–saving two match points against Monfils on Saturday. Fognini’s 33-17 record for the season has him up to 19th in the world.

Next up for the third seed is a fifth career meeting with Robredo. The head-to-head series stands at 3-1 in Robredo’s favor, including 3-0 on clay. They have not faced each other since 2011, when the Spaniard won a pair of clay-court encounters before Fognini prevailed via third-set retirement on the indoor hard courts of Valencia. A resurgent Robredo is 27-15 for his 2013 campaign, which is highlighted by a borderline miracle run to the French Open quarterfinals. The 31-year-old earned his place in this final with scalps of Jan Hajek, Viktor Troicki, Aljaz Bedene, and Andreas Seppi. Until Fognini actually loses a match, it is too hard to pick against him. But count on this one being a high-quality three-setter.

Pick: Fognini in 3

Gstaad final: (6) Mikhail Youzhny vs. Robin Haase

Youzhny and Haase will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers and for the second time this summer when they clash in the final of the Gstaad Open on Sunday. All four of their previous encounters have gone Youzhny’s way, including a 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 decision last month in the Wimbledon first round. They have squared off once on clay, with the Russian prevailing 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-4 last year at Roland Garros.

Both players have taken advantage of a draw prematurely vacated by Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka. Youzhny, in Federer’s half, booked his spot in the title match by taking out Paul-Henri Mathieu, Pablo Andujar, Juan Monaco, and Victor Hanescu–winning his first three matches in three sets. Haase has dismissed Joao Souza, Janko Tipsarevic, Marcel Granollers, and Feliciano Lopez. This continues a recent run of strong play by Youzhny, who reached the Halle final and the Wimbledon fourth round. Haase, who built some confidence on the Challenger circuit earlier this summer, has leveled his 2013 ATP-level record at 18-18.

Even though neither man is a clay-court specialist, the surface should help Haase because it gives him time to set up for his shots while Youzhny’s flat hitting works slightly better on a faster surface. Still, the world No. 33 owns a considerable edge in both current form and ATP finals experience. He is 8-11 lifetime in title matches (two titles on clay), whereas Haase is two for two.

Pick: Youzhny in 2

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