An all-Spanish final is the highlight of the day at the Complexe Al Amal in Casablanca on Sunday.
And the upsets continued in the Grand Prix Hassan II yesterday, as a below par effort from my selection Federico Delbonis saw the first of those Spaniards, Marcel Granollers, claim his place in the final.
Delbonis never fully recovered from a woeful start and when he did begin to play he blew a 4-2 lead in the second set to lose in two, but those on my advice of backing the minus 3.5 games handicap on Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second semi final would have profited.
GGL took the full three sets to shake off the stubborn Roberto Carballes Baena, who has had a fine tournament, but I do hope for the sake of everyone’s sanity that he and Pablo Carreno-Busta aren’t the future of Spanish tennis – if they are we’ll all be watching three-hour matches on a daily basis.
Marcel Granollers 1.50, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 2.50
This will be the third career meeting between the two Spaniards, with the man from Albacete (GGL) facing his Barcelona-born compatriot for the second time here in Casablanca.
Their most recent clash came here at the Complexe Al Amal back in 2010 and their first ever encounter was at a Challenger at Andorra way back in 2003 and GGL was a winner both times, but neither match is relevant to today’s meeting.
Granollers has won four career titles, three of which have come on clay, and two of those were played at altitude in Kitzbuhel and Gstaad and he has a 4-2 record in finals – he has only ever been beaten in finals by players ranked higher than him.
Garcia-Lopez has also won Kitzbuhel, back in 2009, and his only other title came on indoor hard in Bangkok a year later, so the 30-year-old hasn’t landed a tournament win for well over three years.
Marcel has only dropped the one set in this tournament so far, which was to Carreno-Busta on a tie break and in a match that few punters will be staking the family silver on I would give the edge to Granollers today.
Having really struggled on the tour since making the semi finals in week one in Chennai Granollers is just the kind of streaky type to go on the sort of run we’ve seen from him this week from nowhere.
Indeed, I said in my preview of Granollers vs Carreno Busta that I wouldn’t be surprised if Granollers went on to win the tournament and I suspect that’s what will happen.
For me he has a better mental game than GGL, who has been beaten in the two finals he’s reached since that Bangkok win in 2010 – in Bucharest and St Petersburg last season.
The manner of defeat in those finals is telling, with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Lukas Rosol on the dirt in Romania and a 6-0 final set beating by Ernests Gulbis in Russia indoors.
The 1.45 on Granollers is perhaps a touch short and I prefer the minus 2.5 games on Marcel on the handicap today.
The paying public at the Complexe Al Amal have rarely been treated to close finals, with last year’s clash between Tommy Robredo and Kevin Anderson being the only one to go three sets since 2004.
Many of those last nine finals have been very one-sided affairs too and this could be another.
Best Bet: Back Granollers –2.5 games to beat Garcia-Lopez at 1.77