Pablo Cuevas will get things started as the No. 2 seed in Buenos Aires when he takes the court against Alexandr Dolgopolov during second-round action on Thursday. David Ferrer and Carlos Berlocq are also hoping to bag a place in the quarterfinals.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. (2) Pablo Cuevas
Cuevas and Dolgopolov will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers at the ATP main-draw level and for the second time at the Argentina Open when they meet again on Thursday. Their only previous encounter came three years ago at this same Buenos Aires event, with Dologopolov getting the job done 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5). The last few seasons, however, have been slow going for the injury-plagued Ukrainian. He is down at No. 66 in the world and had been a mere 1-4 this year before taking care of a similarly struggling Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday.
This is Cuevas’ first match of the week because he earned an opening bye as the No. 2 seed. The 22nd-ranked Uruguayan is a modest 1-2 on the season with a Sydney quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Gilles Muller and a first-round Australian Open exit at the hands of Diego Schwartzman. Although Cuevas’ hard-court form was not encouraging, he generally excels on clay. He went an amazing 11-1 on the South American Golden Swing last year with titles in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. On this surface, Cuevas should have the edge over Dolgopolov.
Pick: Cuevas in 3
(3) David Ferrer vs. Carlos Berlocq
Ferrer is obviously slowing down at 34 years old, to the extent that has plunged to 27th in the rankings. The Spaniard is just 3-3 this season and has not played since losing in the Australian Open third round to countryman Roberto Bautista Agut. A return trip to Buenos Aires, however, may be just what the doctor ordered. Ferrer is 23-5 lifetime at this tournament with three titles.
Up first for the No. 3 seed on the heels of an opening-round bye is Berlocq, with the head-to-head series standing at one win apiece. Ferrer cruised 6-2, 6-2 at the 2011 Barcelona event before Berlocq prevailed 6-3, 6-3 three years later on the red clay of Bastad. It has already been an eventual February in Buenos Aires for Berlocq, who won five-set Davis Cup rubbers in both singles and doubles before Argentina finally went down 3-2 to Italy. The world No. 77 kicked off this week with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Jozef Kovalik on Tuesday. A well-rested Ferrer should provide much tougher competition in a setting he obviously enjoys based on past history.
Pick: Ferrer in 2