2013 ATP Sydney, Auckland Previews
The last tune-ups before the Aussie Open will take place this upcoming week as players seek to get in shape for good showings in Melbourne. Beyond the two ATP tour events this week, some of the top players will be taking part in a popular exhibition in Melbourne called the Kooyong classic. A preview of Kooyong will come later.
Apia International Sydney
ATP World Tour 250
January 7-January 12, 2013
Prize money: $436,630
The Sydney field was weakened by withdrawals from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Doha champion Richard Gasquet, but provides a great opportunity for someone to grab themselves an ATP title.
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: John Isner*
2: Gilles Simon
3: Andreas Seppi
4: Fernando Verdasco
*Isner had to withdraw from the Hopman Cup earlier this week with ongoing knee tendonitis, and though he is officially entered in the Sydney draw, he may still withdraw from the event.
1st round matchups to watch:
Aljaz Bedene vs. Kevin Anderson
The rising Slovenian Bedene made good on his dark horse designation in Chennai, making the semi finals after wins over seeded players Robin Haase and Stanislas Wawrinka.In the semis, he fell to Janko Tipsarevic but did push him to 3 sets in the process.
Anderson did pretty well at the Hopman Cup and seems to be playing better in 2013 than he did in 2012, winning matches over Fernando Verdasco and a slightly injured but still competitive John Isner. Anderson relies on his big serve to push most every set to a tiebreak but struggles to break serve, while Bedene is a heavy hitter himself. It should be a fun and long match.
(8)Marcel Granollers vs. (wc) Matt Ebden
The grinding Marcel Granollers will start his 2013 campaign against Matt Ebden, who lost in the 1st round of Brisbane to David Goffin. Granollers is ranked higher but does not play his best on hard courts and Ebden will have a chance at an upset based off surface.
Tommy Robredo vs. (wc) John Millman
Veteran Spaniard Tommy Robredo continues to grind his way around the ATP tour as he seeks to break back into the top 100, coming back from injury. He did manage to grab a win over Ryan Harrison in the first round of Brisbane but still does not seem to be back in full form.
Millman is a talented young player who was mentioned in my previous editorial. He beat Tatsuma Ito in Brisbane, then managed to give Andy Murray a run for his money, pushing the match to 3 sets in a surprise performance. This is a battle of the old vs. the new and could go either way.
As I noted previously, top seed Isner is questionable in terms of still playing Sydney and if he does opt to play, you cannot be sure what type of shape he will be in, as he lost both his Hopman Cup singles matches to Anderson and Tsonga before withdrawing before the third match. If he withdraws, I would assume a lucky loser from qualifying would replace him.
That being said, if he does opt to play he could get a tough opening match against surprise current Chennai finalist Roberto Bautista-Agut, then the winner of that match could face 6 seed Radek Stepanek (who withdrew before his 1st round match in Brisbane with an eye infection), a qualifier, Pablo Andujar or most likely Julien Benneteau.
A healthy Isner should be able to get through that, but if he is not in good shape or withdraws, it is a very wide open top of the draw.
Fernando Verdasco, who seems to be struggling a bit in losing all 3 of his competitive Hopman cup singles matches to Tsonga, Anderson, and in the final to Djokovic, opens with the winner of wild card James Duckworth vs. Brisbane quarterfinalist Denis Istomin. The winner of that match could face the winner of Bedene/Anderson, Feliciano Lopez (who lost in the 1st round of Doha to Lukasz Kubot) or Jeremy Chardy. Another very open part of the draw.
Brisbane quarterfinalist Gilles Simon opens with defending champion Jarkko Nieminen or a qualifier, then could face 5 seed Florian Mayer, a qualifier, Marinko Matosevic, or most likely Bernard Tomic. Bernie shocked most everyone in winning all 3 of his singles matches at the Hopman cup over Tommy Haas, Andreas Seppi, and most surprisingly Novak Djokovic. If Tomic continues to make good on his talent and meets Simon in the quarters, it could be a blockbuster battle.
The forementioned Seppi, who lost all three of his Hopman cup singles matches and will look to do better here, opens with the winner of Millman/Robredo. He could face the Granollers/Ebden winner, countryman Fabio Fognini, or most likely current surprise Brisbane finalist Grigor Dimitrov, the youngest player in the top 50, who opens with Fognini.
Dark Horse: Denis Istomin/Aljaz Bedene, Bernard Tomic/Grigor Dimitrov
I picked four dark horses this week, contingent on the winners in their matchups, because the Sydney draw is simply so open.
Istomin seems to be playing well and should have an edge over the seed Verdasco. Meanwhile, if Bedene can get past Anderson and beat another big server in Chardy, he would set up a match with Istomin and the winner of that has a great shot at the final. Depending on Isner, they could play Benneteau, Stepanek or even Bautista-Agut if he keeps his form in the semis.
Tomic on the other hand, seemed to finally make use of his talent at the Hopman Cup, and if he keeps that going should be able to get past Mayer, Simon or Nieminen and set up possibly a semi with Dimitrov, who is also playing up to his talent level this week and that could be a really great match between a couple of young guns who many think will be the next stars of tennis. Dimitrov should have the edge over Fognini, Granollers/Ebden and Seppi.
Bedene d. Bautista-Agut
Tomic d. Dimitrov
In semis between four rising players, Bedene should be a bit fresher than Bautista-Agut, and Tomic should have a home crowd advantage in addition to being fresher.
Tomic d. Bedene
If Tomic can keep himself together, Sydney is his oyster.
ATP World Tour 250
Auckland, New Zealand
January 7-January 12, 2013
Prize Money: $433,400
New Zealand’s only ATP World Tour event features an interesting and eclectic field of talent.
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes):
1: David Ferrer
2: Phillip Kohlschreiber
3: Tommy Haas
4: Sam Querrey
1st round matchups to watch:
David Goffin vs. (8) Thomaz Bellucci
Young gun Goffin lost to Jurgen Melzer in the 2ndround of Brisbane and will take on Bellucci, who is looking to break back into the top 30. It is an intriguing matchup style and form wise that could go either way.
Brian Baker vs. (5 ) Jerzy Janowicz
Two of the feel good stories of 2012 will battle in the 1stround of Auckland, as the inspiring American Baker will take on the freshly minted top 30 player Janowicz. The Pole follows up his stellar 2012 and his amazing finals run in the Paris masters as a qualifier at the end of 2012 with hopes for a solid 2013.
Depending on the form of both players, this match could go either way, and Janowicz especially will be interesting to watch in regard to his mindset and skill improvements over the past year.
Doha semifinalist and defending champ David Ferrer opens with the winner of Chennai semifinalist Benoit Paire, who scored a win over Marin Cilic there, vs. Yen-Hsun Lu. Ferrer then could face the winner of Bellucci/Goffin, Paolo Lorenzi, or Doha quarterfinalist Lukas Lacko.
Tommy Haas, who won just one of his three singles matches at the Hopman Cup (beat Seppi but lost to Djokovic and Tomic) opens with Robin Haase or a qualifier and then could face Brisbane quarterfinalist Jurgen Melzer or Doha quarterfinalist Gael Monfils. Both Melzer and Monfils open with qualifiers. A Haas vs. Melzer or Monfils quarterfinal match up could be must see tennis for the old timers, as all three guys are veteran players.
Phillip Kohlschreiber opens with the winner of Alejandro Falla vs. Grega Zemlja and the winner of that could face 7 seed Martin Klizan, who plays Xaiver Malisse in the opening round or Chennai quarterfinalist Go Soeda, who opens against Santiago Giraldo.
Sam Querrey, the second ranked American on tour, opens with either Albert Ramos or last year’s Auckland finalist Olivier Rochus, a veteran wild card. Querrey would meet the winner of Baker/Janowicz, in what could either be an all American battle or a battle lanky big servers. A qualifier or New Zealand wild card player Daniel King-Turner, who can hit some nifty shots are also options.
Dark Horse: Grega Zemlja
Zemlja is another guy close to breaking into the top 50 and beyond after a long while toiling at the challenger level. He has a great chance to do it in Auckland. In Doha, he did well to beat Fabio Fognini and nearly knock off eventual champion Gasquet before losing in 3 sets. If he can get the win against Falla, he will get a still slumping Kohlschreiber followed by fellow rising player Klizan or more likely the consistent but not dynamic Soeda for a shot at the semis. After that, a semi-final match up with Querrey or Janowicz is certainly winnable.
Ferrer d. Melzer
Querrey d. Zemlja
Ferrer should prove too much for Melzer and Querrey should be able to nip Zemlja.
Ferrer d. Querrey
Ferrer should not face too much opposition to repeating in Auckland, but then again we said that about Doha and Querrey is certainly capable of taking the title.