2012 ATP Metz and ATP St. Petersburg Previews
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The ATP world tour topspins into Fall with two ATP World Tour 250 indoor events in Europe. Only two top 20 players are in action this week so it is a great chance for a lower ranked player to grab a title or at least some important points in the smaller events.
ATP World Tour 250
September 17-23, 2012
Prize Money € 398,250
Top 4 seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
2: Phillip Kohlschreiber
3: Marcel Granollers
4: Florian Mayer
Tsonga and Kohlschreiber are the two top 20 guys in action this week.
1st round matchups to watch:
Paul–Henri Mathieu vs. Gilles Muller
PHM will play in the finals of the Petange (Luxembourg) challenger on indoor hard today, while Muller lost in the 2nd round of the same challenger. Both are streaky players who can go on runs if they get hot. This is also a contrasting match up of styles with baseline vs. serve and volley. PHM should be favored to get the 1st round win.
Andreas Seppi vs. Ivan Dodig
Seppi, who is on Davis Cup duty for Italy this week and may or may not have snapped the funk he has been in this summer with his opening rubber win, is higher ranked than Dodig and seeded 5th. Dodig, who lost in the quarters of the Petange challenger this week may be the fresher player and could score the upset.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the defending champ and home favorite, suffered a shock loss at the US Open and will be looking to recover. He will face either countryman Edouard Roger-Vasselin (a Petange challenger semifinalist) or a qualifier. He would then see 7 seed Finnish Davis Cupper Jarkko Nieminen (who gave John Isner a test at the US Open) or German Davis Cupper Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who lost his opening rubber. Jan Hajek and Jesse Levine are also options as Tsonga should be able to run through this draw.
Marcel Granollers, also hoping to recover from an early round US Open loss, played Davis Cup for Spain this weekend. He starts off against either Ivo Karlovic or German Davis Cupper Benjamin Becker. After that he would see 8 seed Nikolay Davydenko, a qualifier or the winner of Mathieu/Muller. He should be able to advance, but this isn’t his favorite surface.
2 seed and US Open round of 16 participant PhillipKohlschreiber will face the winner of Benoit Paire vs. Xaiver Malisse in what should be a nice match with quality ball striking. He could very well face Gael Monfils thereafter. Monfils makes his return to pro tennis after being out for months with injury. Monfils hasn’t played since Nice on clay back in May and it will be interesting as to how well he can adjust here. He has also dropped out of the top 40 after his extended absence. He will face Olivier Rochus in the 1st round, then countryman Nicolas Mahut or a qualifier.
Kohlschreiber’s countryman and German Davis Cupper Florian Mayer will start off against either James Blake or wild card Albano Olivetti, then faces the winner of Seppi/Dodig, Dutch Davis Cupper Igor Sijsling or a qualifier. Mayer has been in a bit of a funk and doesn’t play his best on hard courts, so this is an interesting section of the draw.
Dark Horse: Paul-Henri Mathieu and Igor Sijsling
This is a small event but I picked two dark horses because I have them both making the semis this week. Mathieu has the advantage of being used to the surface and being in form while the seed in his part of the draw, Granollers, has been questionable on clay. Don’t underestimate that PHM will have the home fans behind him. If he can get past a test from Muller, then Davydenko and upset Granollers, he likely gets a his chance against Tsonga as he keeps working his way back to the top after injuries.
Sijsling has been on clay this weekend and lost his opening Davis Cup rubber against the Swiss, but he has the advantage of playing talent the level of Wawrinka and Federer this weekend. He is also pretty solid on faster surfaces. The two seeds in his part of the draw, Seppi and Mayer, are both slumping and don’t do that well on hard. He has a good chance of making the semis for a battle against Peppo Kohlschreiber.
Tsonga d. Mathieu
Kohlschreiber d. Sijsling
Kohlschreiber d. Tsonga
Kohlschreiber is simply playing better and should notch another title in Metz.
ATP St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg Open
ATP World Tour 250
St. Petersburg, Russia
September 17-September 23, 2012
Prize Money $468,350
Top 4 seeds:
1: Mikhail Youzhny
2: Denis Istomin
3: Martin Klizan
4: Fabio Fognini
3 of the top 4 seeds are all taking part in Davis Cup action this weekend.
1st round matchups to watch:
Phillip Petzschner vs. Ricardas Berankis
Petzschner, who is playing ok as of late, will take on Berankis who lost in the 2nd round of the Petange challenger this week but remains in the top 100. Petzschner is knocking on the door of the top 100. This should be a fun match with some quality ball striking and it is a toss-up.
Tobias Kamke vs. Fabio Fognini
Kamke did well to make the final of the Petange challenger after losing in the 1st round of the US Open and he has a nice chance to score an upset over 4 seed Fognini. Fognini played Davis Cup this week for Italy and is coming off at least one tough 5 set match on clay. Fognini should win based on ranking, but surface and possible fatigue gives Kamke a nice chance in this one over the combustible Italian.
Mikhail Youzhny is coming off a 1st round loss at the US Open and starts off against Canadian Davis Cupper Vasek Pospisil. He would face the winner of Matthias Bachinger vs. Rajeev Ram afterwards. Next up would be Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the 7 seed, or Russian Davis Cupper and countryman Evgeny Donskoy. An intriguing draw for the Russian.
3 seed Martin Klizan, who upset Tsonga and made the round of 16 at the US Open (along with doing Davis Cup duty for Slovakia this weekend), starts off against wild card Mikhail Elgin, then the winner of Italian Davis Cupper Simone Bollelli vs. Horacio Zeballos. In the 3rd round, he could face the winner of Petzschner/Berankis or 8 seed Jurgen Zopp of Estonia.
Uzbek Davis Cupper Denis Istomin starts off against Polish Davis Cupper Lukasz Kubot and then will face the winner of Florent Serra vs. Daniel Gimeno-Traver. After that, he could face 5 seed Lukas Lacko, Grega Zemlja, Flavio Cipolla or a qualifier.
Fognini plays Kamke and the winner will face Igor Andreev or Sergiy Stakohovsky (both playied Davis Cup this weekend for Russia and Ukraine respectively). After that, the winner will face 6 seed Yen-Hsun Lu, Roberto Bautista-Agut, Teymuraz Gabashvili or a qualifier. This part of the draw is wide open.
Dark Horse: Tobias Kamke
If Kamke remains hot and can get past Fognini then Andreev or Stako, his 3rd round opponent would likely be easier as neither Lu or Gabashvili are really feeling it right now. He has a really good shot at the semis at least, and then Istomin would be a beatable test.
Klizan d. Youzhny
Istomin d. Kamke
Klizan d. Istomin
Martin Klizan has had a stellar year and will be gunning for his maiden ATP title in St. Petersburg.