(5) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. Denis Istomin
Kohlschreiber and Istomin will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers when they collide in round one of the BMW Open on Tuesday. Istomin has won all three of their previous encounters; two at the ATP main-draw level and one in the final of the 2011 Istanbul Challenger. They have not faced each other since that year and they have never squared off on clay.
Both men are in decent but unspectacular form this season. Kohlschreiber lost opening matches in Indian Wells and Miami, but those are his only such blemishes so far in 2014. Istomin retired from his first clay-court match of the year in Monte-Carlo qualifying, but he at least ensured himself of a winning record (11-10) at this point with two victories en route to last week’s Bucharest quarterfinals. Kohlschreiber also retired from his Barcelona quarterfinal match against Santiago Giraldo. If the German is back to 100 percent, however, home-court advantage and clay should give him a slight edge.
Pick: Kohlschreiber in 3
(Q) Albert Ramos vs. Lleyton Hewitt
It has already been an eventful clay-court swing for Ramos as he heads into his main-draw opener on Tuesday in Munich. In fact, the 117th-ranked Spaniard has not played a hard-court match since the Australian Open. This is his fourth tournament already in April, which includes a second-round showing as a qualifier in Monte-Carlo and a 7-6(2), 6-4 second-round loss to Rafael Nadal in Barcelona. Ramos has already won three matches in Munich as he battled his way into the main draw.
Hewitt, on the other hand, made his only clay-court appearance in Houston–where he advanced one round before losing to Sam Querrey. The 33-year-old is a decent 10-7 for his 2014 campaign, but he has cooled off since beginning the season in style with a title in Brisbane. The first-ever meeting between these two competitors should be a good one. Ramos has played a lot of recent tennis, including two tough three-setters in Munich qualifying, so Hewitt may be able to capitalize if his opponent is at all jaded.
Pick: Hewitt in 3