It wasn’t the best of starts to the week at the Complexe Al Amal on Monday, as my fancy Teimuraz Gabashvili produced a display that to call ‘disappointing’ would be an understatement.
After leading by a break in the first set and playing some very good tennis Gabashvili lost it and began demanding for some imaginary distraction in the very sparse crowd to be removed forthwith.
What was even odder was that all of this was going on when Gaba had two break points in his favour and none of it did him any good.
There was also a potential problem with his knee going on during all of this and the fact that he made just two first serves in total in the second set (15%) suggests that there was something badly wrong – be it mental or physical; or possibly both.
There are just the five first round matches on the schedule for Tuesday at the Complexe Al Amal and the pick of the day’s action on paper takes place at around 5pm UK time.
Gilles Simon 1.88, Federico Delbonis 1.88
This one looks like arguably the match of the tournament and sadly for the organisers it’s a first round encounter.
Simon presumably changed his plans and was too late to get a wild card, so came through qualifying here and Gillou does have a fine record at this event, with a 15-4 mark and he came through qualies to win this back in 2008.
In his way today is Sao Paulo champion Delbonis, who comes here after making his usual token efforts on hard courts since that win at altitude in Brazil and the Argentine leftie will be looking to reach the latter stages of this one back on his favourite clay surface.
The pair have never met on tour until today but Simon does have a winning record against lefties, with 10 of his last 13 such matches ending successfully for the Frenchman, but he has had a lot of injury problems of late.
He was taken to three in qualifying by world number 599 Nikola Cacic and 370 Roberto Marcora and although he had an easier time of it in the end against Andrey Kuznetsov this one has three sets written all over it to me and one for the overs.
Albert Ramos 1.24, Lamine Ouahab 3.95
This one has the potential to be a real banana skin for the struggling Ramos against a player who will be motivated and will be very familiar with the conditions here at the Complexe Al Amal.
Ouahab played Davis Cup here for Morocco at the weekend and won all three of the matches he contested – the last one with a rare triple bagel – which tells you all you need to know about the quality of the Cyprus side they were facing.
Only one of the four Cypriots have a ranking and the odd one out is outside the top-1500 in singles, but even so I think Ouahab has a shot in this match today against Ramos.
The Spaniard made the final here in Casablanca on his only appearance here in 2012, but those were heady days for the leftie, who peaked at 38 in the world rankings and is now outside the top-100.
Indeed, Ramos has only won five of his 12 tour level matches in 2014 so far and dropped down to Challenger level in weeks 12 and 13, where he lost in the semi finals each time.
Hardly the kind of form one would like to see from a 1.2 favourite and I expect this to be closer than that price suggests, with Ouahab having reached the last-16 here before and looking to make an impression in his first tournament appearance here since gaining Moroccan citizenship.
The pair met three times in 2009, with one comfortable win for Ouahab and two tight victories for Ramos the results, and although that was a long time ago Ramos’s current level isn’t good enough for there to be a big gap between the pair at the moment. The +4.5 games on Ouahab looks the call here at around 1.90.
I also wouldn’t be convinced about Victor Hanescu at 1.08 – against anyone really – and not even the world number 513 Hicham Khaddari.
The local wild card lost to the aforementioned world number 1571 Sergis Kyratzis in that Davis Cup match here at the weekend and Hanescu should beat him comfortably on paper, but the Romanian is in wretched form and could easily make life difficult for himself today.
Back over 22.5 total games in Simon/Delbonis at 1.72
Back Ouahab +4.5 games to beat Ramos at 1.90