The European Open from Antwerp, Belgium featured three-set matches galore on Tuesday, as four duels went the distance.
On Wednesday, the draw picks up steam as the two top seeds play their first matches, two Americans go head-to-head and Dominic Thiem looks to continue his improved form.
Let’s dive into every match on Wednesday’s schedule of play.
Daniel Evans vs. Constant Lestienne
Evans is a much better, more experienced ATP player than Lestienne. He’s also had great results against Lestienne in the past, especially their most recent meeting in San Diego (6-1, 6-3).
But in their only meeting on an indoor hard court, Lestienne kept things close, losing in a third-set tiebreaker in Quimper back in 2019.
Lestienne, who has been a fixture on the Challenger Tour, has seen solid results in his last three ATP tournaments. He reached the quarterfinals in San Diego, the semifinals in Tel Aviv and won a match in Gijon.
While Evans should win this one, I expect Lestienne to keep things relatively close based on past results on a similar surface and form. But I don’t think it will be close enough to cover the 3 games on the betting line.
Dominic Stricker vs. Richard Gasquet
Both of these players are coming off of emotional first-round wins — Stricker upset 34th-ranked Botic van de Zandschulp while Gasquet saved three match points to beat Stan Wawrinka in three sets.
Despite being just 20 years old, I think Stricker handles this situation better.
This represents an opportunity for the Swiss to build on one of the biggest wins of his career, and he has advantages in two areas.
- Stricker has never played Gasquet, which will be an adjustment for the Frenchman.
- Gasquet played a two-hour, grueling match on Monday and he’s 36 years old.
Give me Stricker in this spot.
Dominic Thiem vs. Michael Geerts
It’s always tough to fade players competing in their home country, but in this case, I doubt Geerts — who is mainly a doubles player — will put up much of a fight against an improved Thiem.
Last week in Gijon, Thiem mentioned after his first-round match that it was the best he’s felt on the court since returning. He then went on to beat Marcos Giron and Francisco Cerundolo while being competitive against Andrey Rublev.
I think Thiem not only wins this match, but covers -5.
Hubert Hurkacz vs. Jack Draper
It’s tough to argue with how well Draper played in his opening-round match against Jenson Brooksby. He smoked the American, using his powerful forehand and serve to his advantage. He never allowed Brooksby to get comfortable, and it truly feels like this is a week where he can breakthrough convincingly.
Hurkacz will serve much better in this spot than Brooksby did in the first round, though. He also earned an indoor hard court title back in 2021 in Metz.
These two have never met, but I like I said, I feel like this is Draper’s week.
Manuel Guinard vs. Geoffrey Blancaneaux
Two Frenchmen lucky losers square off in this matchup, and I’m going to lean toward Guinard because of his form.
Guinard made the Round of 16 in Gijon last week, winning two qualifying matches before taking down Fabio Fognini. He lost to Cerundolo in straight sets, but he did force the Argentine into a tiebreaker in set one.
I watched Blancaneaux play in US Open qualifying, and while I liked his game, he’s lost three straight matches, including a recent retirement.
Marcos Giron vs. Sebastian Korda
This is the match I’m most excited to see on Wednesday, as these are two Americans who haven’t played since their thrilling three-setter at Newport Beach in 2020.
We’ll start with Giron, who made his only final of the 2022 season at San Diego and then gave Thiem a tough match in Gijon last week.
Meanwhile, Korda also reached one ATP final this season, and that run came last week in the same event (Gijon).
Korda notched some big wins along the way (Andy Murray, Roberto Bautista Agut and Arthur Rinderknech) before losing to Rublev in the final. At only 22 years of age, Korda just couldn’t keep up with the Russian (Rublev), who was just on another level in terms of experience and talent.
I love fading players after they’ve played deep into tournaments in the previous week — and that’s especially the case with a younger player like Korda.
I like Giron to win this one.
Jaume Munar vs. Yoshihito Nishioka
Both of these players are inconsistent, but they’ve recently had very promising results.
Munar beat Casper Ruud in straight sets in Toyko while Nishioka won Seoul, topping Ruud, Daniel Evans and Denis Shapovalov in the process.
This should be a competitive match, but I think the fact that Nishioka hasn’t played an indoor hard court tournament during this swing actually favors Munar in this match.
I still think Yoshi wins this one — he had a week off last week and I love to favor his groundstrokes on quicker courts — however, I would take Munar to win the first set from a betting perspective. I think it will take Yoshi a set to adjust to the surface.