Norbert Gombos vs Casper Ruud 19.05.17

Heilbronner Neckar Cup 2017. Outdoor Clay Courts. ATP Challenger Tour.

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Norb Gombos v Ruud

Heilbronner Neckar Cup 2017 Quarter Final Match

Heilbronner Challenger 2017

Today’s stand-out match on the Challenger Tour comes from the Neckar Cup, contested on the clay courts of Heilbronn in Germany. This historic tennis centre has hosted this tournament since 1988, and it has predominantly been littered with home-grown winners. In fact, 7 out of the past 8 winners have been German, including the prodigiously talented Alexander Zverev in 2015.

This afternoon we will see another very talented youngster take to the dirt, 18 year old Norwegian, Casper Ruud. Casper will be pitting his wits against the enigmatic Norbert Gombos for the very first time, and both will be looking to secure their place in the Semi Finals. Gombos had not won two consecutive matches on clay since June 2015 before this week, so he will be feeling pretty good about himself. Ruud also looks comfortable with his game, having played plenty of good clay court tennis in recent weeks, despite losing in the first rounds in Barcelona, Munich and Madrid, against Ramos-Vinolas, Kohlschreiber and Kuznetsov.

Let’s begin by summarising how both of these players reached the Quarter Finals; Gombos has had by far the more comfortable route out of the two players, beating home favourite Daniel Brands in Round 1, before comfortably dispatching Steven Diez in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 in Round 2. Ruud on the other hand has played two, three set matches already this week; he overcame Marcel Ilhan in Round 1, winning 6-1 in the third and then was involved in an almighty struggle in Round 2 against Mirza Basic, eventually getting through 7-5 in the third, having failed to serve the match out at 5-4. Both players have played plenty of good tennis this week so far, so i’m expecting an entertaining match here.

Statistically on serve this week Gombos has won 74% of his points played and held serve 92% of the time. Ruud has won 66% of his service points and held 81% of the time. This makes for interesting reading, as Gombos is clearly serving well above his recent mean clay court level, which sits at 62% points won and 77% service hold. Ruud is just slightly above his recent mean clay court level of 63% points won on serve and 79% service hold. We can draw from this that if Gombos continues serving at these levels, he is unlikely to get broken easily. We will watch this closely as the match develops.

When returning serve this week so far Gombos has won 40% of his return points, 35% of his break points, with his opponents holding serve 75% of the time, these are all pretty much in line with his recent clay court mean. Ruud however has elevated his return game so far this week, winning 44% of his return points, 55% of his break points and his opponents holding serve just 63% of the time, all of which are improvements on his recent clay court mean. Ruud is going to need these strong return numbers today in order to make an impression in the Gombos service games.

Ruud certainly has the more consistent all-court game and you would certainly favour him in the longer rallies, Gombos can be dangerous though if he is on and can hit plenty of winners, albeit with sporadic inconsistency.

If Gombos starts fast and is hitting his spots with the serve and off the ground, expect a close match. If not, expect Ruud to be too consistent from the back of the court and advance through to the Semi Finals.

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