Evenly matched clash on paper in the second round at the ATP event in Cagliari, where Yannick Hanfmann will take on Marco Cecchinato on Thursday afternoon.
Hanfmann will be happy that the European clay court season is finally here. He didn’t have a great year on hard courts, losing 6 of his 8 matches, but that was never his best surface – even so, he got a couple of decent wins against Duckworth and Johnson. Now, back on clay, he put on a very good performance to defeat Tommy Paul in the first round at Cagliari, 7-6 5-7 6-3.
Cecchinato’s season has been a disaster so far. He entered Cagliari with a single win under his belt, a three setter gainst Dellien in Cordoba, even though, unlike Hanfmann, he played most of his tennis in 2021 on his favorite surface – clay. Cecchinato managed to defeat Fabbiano 6-4 4-6 6-3 earlier this week for his second win of the year.
Hanfmann leads the H2H 1-0, winning 6-4 6-4 in late August last year at the Todi challenger, on clay.
The bookies are rating this as an evenly matched clash, but I emphatically disagree with that. I see quite a difference between the two players right now.
First of all, I would say Hanfmann looked a bit better than Cecchinato overall this year – and that was with Hanfmann playing on hard courts and Cecchinato on clay, a big disadvantage for the German, considering both are specialists on the red dirt.
Secondly, and most importantly, Hanfmann played quite a solid match in his first round here in Cagliari. I felt he was very strong. His opponent, Paul, was at a high level, playing great for most of the match, and it was a high level clash overall. Meanwhile, Cechinnato struggled against Fabbiano, a guy who is having a very bad year himself, with no wins on the main draw of an ATP tournament in 2021.
As far as I’m concerned, Hanfmann is simply playing better right now. He defeated Cecchinato in straight sets in the only H2H meeting, so there’s no matchup problem. I don’t see why I wouldn’t back Hanfmann with confidence – if the two players show the same level as they did in the first round, this will be a win for him. The eye test certainly suggests that. Prediction: Yannick Hanfmann – Marco Cecchinato 6-7 6-4 6-2.