Fixture: (3) Casper Ruud vs Gianluca Mager
Date: 8 April 2021
Tournament: AnyTech365 Andalucia Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 16)
Venue: Marbella, Spain
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €408,800
Match timing: Not before 3 pm local time, 6.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Europsort
Casper Ruud vs Gianluca Mager preview
Third seed Casper Ruud is set to open his 2021 Andalucia Open campaign with a Round of 16 contest against Italy's Gianluca Mager on Thursday.
Ruud had a successful 2020 season, and would have been hoping to carry the momentum into the new year. He did make a strong start in 2021 with a fourth-round showing at the Australian Open, but hasn't had too many other results to show for.
Mager, interestingly, registered his breakthrough result on tour last year by upsetting Ruud on the claycourts of Rio. He also took out Dominic Thiem on his way to his first ATP tour final.
While he went on to lose to Chile's Cristian Garin in the summit clash, Mager gave enough evidence of his abilities as a claycourt specialist that week. The Italian's movement on the surface is sublime, and he also possesses a powerful backhand.
Needless to say, Mager could pose a few problems to Ruud in their Marbella clash on Thursday.
Casper Ruud vs Gianluca Mager head-to-head
The first round meeting in Rio remains the only meeting between Casper Ruud and Gianluca Mager, so it is the Italian who leads the duo's head-to-head with a slender 1-0 margin.
Casper Ruud vs Gianluca Mager prediction
Casper Ruud will enter this contest looking to avenge his loss from Rio last year. Ruud is an accomplished claycourter, and will be a firm favorite despite his losing record against Gianluca Mager.
Mager will look to take time away from Ruud, which he was able to do well the last time the two players met. That said, he hasn't been able to sustain that sort of form in the months since, and it will be interesting to see if he can turn over a new leaf here.
Ruud, on his part, will be better prepared to take on his opponent this time. He has had a few fitness concerns in recent months, but if fully fit, the Norwegian should have enough to exact revenge on Thursday.
Prediction: Casper Ruud to win in three sets.