By Luís Santos
The mens draw
The main draws for the upcoming Estoril Open have been announced. Some exciting match-ups have emerged, especially if you are Portuguese!
Top four seeds in the men’s side got byes, so Soderling, Verdasco, Tsonga and Simon are only second round sightings. Special attention to Fernando Verdasco whose second round opponent may well be Portuguese best Frederico Gil. Verdasco is the clear favorite but Gil was a finalist at the Estoril Open 2010 and is a crowd favorite.
Of his return to the Estoril Open Gil said: “I love to play this tournament so much in front of my friends and family, it is a big motivation and I always try to do my best. I grew up playing here when I was younger, so I know the conditions. I know the pressure and expectation of playing at my home tournament.”
Second man of the Portuguese armada is Rui Machado, who starts against veteran Victor Hanescu.
But for most of us Portuguese tennis fans, all eyes will be on the all-portuguese first round match between Gastão Elias and João Sousa, the hopes of the Portugal tennis scene. No matter what the result will be, we are assured of a Portuguese in the second round.
Other big names to watch at the Estoril this week will be former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and fast rising star Milos Raonic.
The womens draw
On the women’s side, the field is lead by Russian Alisa Kleybanova who will have a first round tussle with big-hitting Olga Govortsova. Jarmila Gajdosova is the number two seed and starts against Renata Voracova. Rouding out the top four seeds are Klara Zakopalova and Anastasjia Sevastova.
Two former champions grace the draw this year with Jie Zheng and Great Arn both making returns to the Portuguese venue. Arn will open against home hope Maria João Koehler, the number two for Portugal. Koehler has expressed her determination to do well on her home turf so Arn may well have her hands full with the Portuguese wildcard.
Also on the list to watch are Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Elena Vesnina, the number five and six seeds, respectively. Also making a comeback is Casey Dellacqua from Australia.
Be sure to to visit TennisGrandstand daily as Luís Santos brings you the headlines of both men’s and women’s action at the 2011 Estoril Open.