By Ros Satar

  • Andy Murray [1/WC] v Bernard Tomic – H2H: 5-0
  • Dominic Thiem [4] def. Kyle Edmund 6-1 6-4
  • Dan Evans def. Mischa Zverev [14] 6-4 6-4
  • In Budapest Aljaz Bedene advances to second round in Budapest
BARCELONA, SPAIN – Andy Murray will look to keep his unblemished record against Bernard Tomic intact as he begins his Barcelona quest.

 

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Andy Murray [1/WC] v Bernard Tomic – H2H: Murray leads 5- 0

While Andy Murray might have spent his formative years at the Sanchez-Casal Academy and indeed played his first pro match at this tournament. He lost, by the way, to Jan Hernych after winning his first professional set.

Fast forward almost exactly 12 years and a few things have changed for the once gangly Murray. Three Grand Slam titles, World No. 1 and now the recipient of a wildcard after perhaps an earlier than expected loss in Monte Carlo – not that Murray was complaining (that much) abut a third round exit.

Having sustained a tear in his elbow which saw yet another early Indian Wells exit and had him skipping Miami altogether, if you had offered him odds on a run to the third round he would have taken it gladly.

In a week packed with Brits in the Spanish sunshine, Murray will start against the highly unpredictable Bernard Tomic. The Aussie beat the flamboyant Dustin Brown in a competitive opener with Tomic working hard for the win in three sets.

When it comes to handling Murray though, his unique playing style has not flummoxed the Brit one bit. Tomic mixes up what he gives you – he can change pace when he sees fit in a rally, has a decent slice backhand and will throw in deft drop shots a lot. On clay, Murray can expect to be made to work hard.

A game with this much variety could, and indeed should hurt players a lot more than Tomic manages. Although he posses a fairly solid forehand – he hits it quite flat at times which on the slower surface can set it up for quite the punishment.

Tomic has yet to even take a set off Murray in any of their five encounters, and so if he fancies his chances now might be the time while Murray still looks for a consistent run of form to make a mark on the dirt. But in reality it looks like Murray will extend his unbeaten record against the Australian quite handily.

Prediction: Murray in two sets.

 

Dominic Thiem [4] def. Kyle Edmund 6-1 6-4

After exacting some revenge against Jeremy Chardy in quite commanding form, it was a different story for British No. 2 (for now), Kyle Edmund. He struggled to make a dent in the Austrian’s serve in the opening match and from that point Thiem did not look back.

He broke Edmund twice in succession before wrapping up the first set and although the second set was more competitive from the Brit, again bringing up an early chance, before Thiem converted on his first opportunity.

Edmund tried hard , with three more chances squandered before Thiem closed out the match.

 

Thiem to face Evans in R3 – H2H: Evans leads 1-0

Not only has Dan Evans won a second match on clay, he goes into his round three match with Thiem with a lead in their head to head, having battled past the Austrian on his way to the Sydney final. It perhaps marks a turning point for Evans. He reached his first final at the start of the year, and has been playing nip and tuck with Edmund for the British No. 2 spot, as both try to kick on.

As with Edmund’s match though – it will be a tough ask for the Brummie lad as he goes up against a player whose first four ATP World Tour titles came on the clay, and he’s added three more since then. While Evans got the better of another player seemingly as allergic to the dirt as he claims to be, he has a chance to learn a lot about the game.

Thiem will look to play aggressively, which will suit Evans down to the ground, but the Austrian is likely to just be able to do things a little better.

Prediction: Thiem in two sets.

 

Aljaz Bedene advances to second round, Budapest

In Budapest, Aljaz Bedene has been showing a good round of form, fighting his way through a tough final qualifying round with Marius Copil, only to face him in the main round. The Romanian came in as a lucky loser – not all that lucky as it turns out as Bedene eased into the second round, 7-5 6-2.

He will face Robin Haase for the third time on tour, with the pair sharing honours even. It will be a first meeting on clay, with Haase having won their latest encounter in Acapulco last year.

 

Murray and Tomic are scheduled on Pista Rafa Nadal, not before 12;30 (11:30 BST), with Thiem and Evans to be scheduled on Thursday. Bedene and Copil are scheduled on Court 1 in Budapest at 12:00pm (11am BST).

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