Sofia R2 previews and predictions: Wawrinka vs. Klizan, Mannarino vs. Baghdatis

Stan Wawrinka will be playing his second tournament and third match of the season when he takes the court against Martin Klizan in round two of the Sofia Open on Thursday. Adrian Mannarino and Marcos Baghdatis are also aiming for a place in the quarterfinals.

(1) Stan Wawrinka vs. (Q) Martin Klizan

Wawrinka and Klizan will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they clash in the Sofia Open second round on Thursday evening. Both of their previous encounters have gone the way of Wawrinka, who prevailed 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 eight years ago on the clay courts of Casablanca and 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 at the 2017 Australian Open. The 32-year-old Swiss is certainly not in top shape at the moment, having missed the end of 2017 following Wimbledon because of a knee injury. Down to No. 15 in the world, Wawrinka returned in Melbourne and struggled mightily in a win over Ricardas Berankis and a loss to Tennys Sandgren.

Klizan is coming back from an injury of his own, having also missed basically the entire last four months of last season due to a calf problem. The 147th-ranked Slovak is showing signs of life this week in Sofia, where he won a pair of qualifying matches and then beat Bulgarian wild card Alexander Donski 7-5, 6-1 on Tuesday. With five indoor hard-court matches already under his belt (two at the recent Quimper Challenger), Klizan should be able to take full advantage of a rusty opponent.

Pick: Klizan in 3

Marcos Baghdatis vs. (2) Adrian Mannarino

Mannarino was lucky to earn a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed, thus pushing back his start this week to Thursday. That gives him three full days of rest following Davis Cup duty for defending champion France, which he helped lead to the quarterfinals thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Netherlands. Mannarino may not have been at his absolute best, but he bounced back from an opening loss to Thiemo De Bakker to give his team the clinching point in the form of a 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-7(2), 7-5 victory over Robin Haase. The world No. 25 is now 5-3 this year with a quarterfinal performance in Sydney and a third-round showing at the Australian Open.

Up first for Mannarino in Sofia is a third career contest against Baghdatis, with the head-to-head series tied up at one win apiece. The Frenchman prevailed 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 on the indoor hard courts of Stockholm in 2014, while Baghdatis got the job done 6-4, 6-4 early last season in Auckland. Struggling down at 123rd in the rankings, the 32-year-old Crypriot appears to be in at least decent form right now with a second-round finish in Melbourne (lost to Andrey Rublev in four sets) and a 7-6(4), 6-3 defeat of lucky loser Salvatore Caruso on Wednesday. Mostly because Mannarino is likely fatigued on the heels of last weekend’s proceedings, Baghdatis’ winning ways may continue.

Pick: Baghdatis in 3

6 Comments on Sofia R2 previews and predictions: Wawrinka vs. Klizan, Mannarino vs. Baghdatis

  1. Stan has never really been in great shape….he always carried a few extra kilos but it also helped when generating power……..but now he is exhausted after 10 shot rallies. He won’t have the legs to chase down klizans hard ground strokes, and without the legs most of that ground stroke power is gone from his game. Klizan in two

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