Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic will continue their Rotterdam campaigns during second-round action on Thursday. Berdych is going up against Richard Gasquet, while Cilic is set for an all-Croat affair with Borna Coric.
(4) Tomas Berdych vs. Richard Gasquet
Berdych and Gasquet will be squaring off for the 16th time in their careers when they battle for a quarterfinal spot at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Thursday. The head-to-head series stands at 8-7 in favor of Berdych, who won each of their two encounters last season. He prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 at the Indian Wells Masters and 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3 in Shenzhen. Gasquet, who is 1-5 against Berdych dating back to the fall of 2014, last got the job done via a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 decision at the 2015 U.S. Open.
Fresh off a runner-up performance in Montpellier, Gasquet maintained his fine form by crushing Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday. The 19th-ranked Frenchman is now 7-2 for his 2017 campaign. Berdych managed to scrape through his Monday opener against Marius Copil 7-6(3), 6-4 but was hampered by an apparent hip issue. The fourth-seeded Czech had already been mired in a relative slump, and now that physical problems are compounding the issue it could be a long–or short, depending on how you look at it–day at the office against Gasquet.
Pick: Gasquet in 2
(1) Marin Cilic vs. Borna Coric
Cilic needed a win in the worst way on Tuesday and that is exactly what he got in the form of a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Benoit Paire. The seventh-ranked Croat had been a mere 1-3 this season prior to his arrival in Rotterdam, with losses to Jozef Kovalik in Chennai, in the Australian Open second round to Dan Evans, and last week at the hands of Dustin Brown in Montpellier.
Up next for Cilic on Thursday is a third career showdown against Coric, who trails the head-to-head series against his favored compatriot 2-0. The 20-year-old was in even greater need of a victory on Tuesday than Cilic, as Coric had not won a single match since upsetting Rafael Nadal at last summer’s Cincinnati Masters. Making a comeback from knee surgery, the world No. 61 edged Karen Khachanov 7-6(6), 7-6(10) to reach the Rotterdam second round. Asking the underdog to suddenly pick up two wins in a row is likely too much, especially against an opponent who likely gained confidence from his performance against Paire.
Pick: Cilic in 2