Date/Time: Thursday 7th February 2019 (Kick-off 9:00 PM CET).
Both Pablo Cuevas and Malek Jaziri won their first match at the ATP Cordoba event and move through to this Second Round meeting.
Over the years playing on the clay courts has been far from easy for Jaziri, but the veteran had a good looking win in the First Round over Carlos Berlocq and that should give him some confidence. He did not serve as well as he would have liked in that win, and that is going to be a problem for Jaziri in this match as it has been when playing on the main ATP Tour on this surface throughout his career.
Malek Jaziri did have a decent enough season on the clay courts in 2018 so there may be a feeling that he has gotten comfortable on the surface. However this is a step up in level for the Tunisian who has reached a career best World Ranking already in 2019 and could improve on that with a strong run in this tournament.
His return of serve is going to be important on the clay courts, but Jaziri will also have to look after this own serve better than he did in the First Round and better than his levels produced in the last few years. That is the case when facing someone like Pablo Cuevas who is very strong on the clay courts and has a serve that can set him up to win plenty of matches.
Pablo Cuevas holds serve considerably better than Jaziri on the clay courts and he was a dominant First Round winner where Jaziri did have his difficulties.
While the return game is perhaps not quite as good as it could be, Cuevas is someone who has a consistent ability to break serve on the clay courts. In each of the last four years Cuevas has won between 37.5% and 38.5% of the return points against the serve and that has led to a pretty consistent break percentage on the clay courts.
That is the kind of level that could give him every chance to not only win this match with Jaziri, but also find the breaks of serve to cover a big number. Pablo Cuevas has beaten Malek Jaziri on a hard court in 2016, but the clay is his favoured domain and I do think his superior serve numbers will see him give up fewer break points and ultimately do enough to move through to the Quarter Final with a relatively straight-forward win.
Prediction: Pablo Cuevas - 4.5 games