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Rafael Nadal will face Ernests Gulbis in the quarter final round of the ongoing Qatar Open tomorrow. The Spaniard’s record against his Latvian opponent is quite amazing. He has taken him on 6 times so far in his career and he has emerged out as winner every time, but, on this occasion, Gulbis is in with a chance. That’s because it’s just the start of the season and Nadal is yet to hit his top form. He was not anywhere close to his peak in his previous match against Tobias Kamke of Germany. Although he won that match but, he was made to toil hard for every single point.
Nadal has got the idea how tough an opponent Gulbis can prove to be. In his interview after the match against Kamke, when he was asked about the Latvian youngster, he had said, “He is one of those guys whom you do not like to face too often. His shots are as powerful as anyone on the tour and his biggest positive is his serve. His baseline game is pretty good too. In short, he is a fine all round player and it’s not easy to defeat him.”
Gulbis has been in the quarter final of the Qatar Open a couple of times in the past as well, but, on both those occasions, he had failed to move further. This time around, he would desperately be looking to cross this hurdle.
With the Australian Open around the corner, both these players are looking for momentum. Neither of them had featured at the Melbourne Park in the last season.
Despite the fact that Nadal had looked clumsy in his previous outing, he is the favourite to pull off a win in tomorrow’s match.
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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is ready to come back to the tennis arena after remaining out of action for about 12 weeks due to knee injury. The 27 years old Frenchman will take on his compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the second round of the Metz Open tomorrow.
The last time that Tsonga had made an appearance in a competitive game was in the Wimbledon Championships earlier this year. He was facing Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in the second round there and was having a tough time. He had lost 2 out of the first 3 sets when he started feeling immense pain in his knee and decided to withdraw himself from the match.
Because of that injury, Tsonga couldn’t take part in the US Open either. But, now, the French superstar has got rid of that problem and he is ready to finish the season on a winning note. He is the top seeded player in the Metz Open and because of that; he got a bye in the first round.
Tsonga is coming into this tournament without that much match practice. So, he might be lacking a bit of rhythm, but, he can be expected to shrug that off as he is an experienced campaigner.
On the other hand, Tsonga’s opponent Vasselin has featured in quite a few tournaments after Wimbledon. He hasn’t had impressive outings in all those tournaments, but, he is playing consistently. So, match practice is not something which he is short of. The 29 years old is currently ranked 66th in the world.
There have been a couple of matches played between these two players so far and on both those occasions, it was Tsonga who came on top. The French no. 1 is the favourite in this encounter as well.
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