Marcos Baghdatis vs. Andrei Pavel
This one has upset written all over it, but I just refuse to pick it because I'm also thinking--and hoping--that Baghdatis can turn his form around and start getting something out of his talent. He really hasn't done anything since his epic quarterfinal loss to Djokovic at Wimledon. At 33, Pavel is still going fairly strong and he's had a decent fall, including some very good tennis two weeks ago in the Belgium Challenger event. If this goes three, I like Pavel because it's well advertised that Bagman could be a lot fitter and his confidence is extremely fragile at the moment. But the surface should suit the Cypriot and I think he'll be able to pull out a tight match.
The pick: Baghdatis in 2
Radek Stepanek vs. Andy Murray
Probably the best first-round match of the tournament. Both of these guys would be seeded had it not been for injuries earlier in the season. Murray missed most of the summer but he reached the third round of the Open and two weeks ago made it to the final of Metz before losing to Robredo. Stepanek came on strong on the hard courts this summer and people are still talking about the second-round classic he lost to Djokovic at the Open. I just think Stepanek will be too solid and frustrate Murray by playing his smart, consistent, aggressive tennis.
The pick: Stepanek in 3
Juan Monaco vs. Igor Andreev
This will be a fun-to-watch baseline slugfest. Monaco has won three titles this year (all on clay) and he showed at the Open that he can play on hard courts, too. He made it to the fourth round and gave Djokovic all he could handle. Andreev has been solid recently, but I think Monaco's confidence is just a bit higher right now and I think Monaco's mental game is considerably stronger.
The pick: Monaco in 2