Mardy Fish and Nikolay Davydenko are set to clash in what looks to be a competitive second-round match at the 2011 Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday.
Fish enters the match having made the final at last year's tournament, which does put pressure on him to perform this year, with 600 ranking points to defend.
The current world No. 7, Fish also performed well in last week's Rogers Cup in Montreal, where he reached the final but lost to Novak Djokovic.
Fish received a first-round bye in Cincinnati, which was needed, since he could be suffering from fatigue right now.
The 29-year-old has improved his conditioning in the last year, something that has definitely helped him achieve his current and career-high ranking.
However, he is still at the higher end of the age spectrum when it comes to the Top 20 players on tour. Having played so many matches recently, you have to wonder what Fish's body is telling him right now.
He could be prone to an upset in Cincinnati and Davydenko, well rested, is a strong enough opponent to overcome the American.
An early-round casualty at the Rogers Cup last week, Davydenko was also defeated by Djokovic. While Fish was being pushed to three sets by the world No. 1, Stanislas Wawrinka and Ernests Gulbis, Davydenko was likely practicing, something that is much less taxing on the body.
The two players have met twice before in the past, with Davydenko leading 2-1 on head-to-heads. However, they have not met since 2009 and it is Fish who has improved since then, while Davydenko is drifting.
Additionally, one of Davydenko's wins against Fish was on clay, while the American won their most recent meeting on cement.
Wednesday's match in Cincinnati is a difficult match to assess, in my opinion. Betting odds (2/5; bet365) make Fish appear to be a significant favorite. However, I don't predict Fish to do too well this week due to his relative fatigue level.
Davydenko is more dangerous in this second-round match than the odds imply and I like the Russian's chances.
Prediction: Davydenko to win straight up.
Their match opens Center Court in Cincinnati at 11 am.
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