Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
February 18-Feburary 24, 2013
Prize Money: $ 1,212,750
The Joint ATP/WTA Event held at the Racquet Club of Memphis in lovely Memphis, Tennessee will be holding its 38th edition. For the first time, Tennis East Coast will have some onsite coverage of the event. I will be there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday covering the Men’s and Women’s 1st and 2nd rounds with all the info and excitement you would expect of both the tennis action and the energy surrounding the event. With that, here is a preview of the Men’s main draw.
Top 8 seeds
1: Marin Cilic
2: Milos Raonic
3: John Isner
4: Sam Querrey
5: Kei Nishikori
6: Tommy Haas
7: Alexandr Dolgopolov
8: Fernando Verdasco
All seeds are ranked in the top 24 in the world and are closely clustered between 12 and 24 in the world. This makes for fierce competition. Since I’ll be there, I’ll go through the draw quarter by quarter explaining each matchup instead of the usual overview.
Zagreb champ Marin Cilic opens with his Davis Cup teammate Ivan Dodig. He has a 0-1 career record against Dodig even though he is ranked some 50 spots higher. Dodig’s best result is quarters in Zagreb this year.
Defending Memphis champ and Cilic’s opponent in the Zagreb final is Jurgen Melzer. He’ll begin his quest to repeat against Igor Sijsling, who comes off a nice upset victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Rotterdam. If Melzer and Cilic both advance, it would be a repeat of the Zagreb final in the 2nd round.
San Jose quarterfinalist Xaiver Malisse opens with a qualifier. Kei Nishikori, in his first tournament since the Australian Open, also draws a qualifier.
Sam Querrey is still in the running for the San Jose title. He’ll play the same guy he played in the San Jose quarterfinals, Alejandro Falla. Marinko Matosevic and Go Soeda will play each other for the right to face the winner of that rematch in the 2nd round.
Steve Johnson, also coming off quarters in San Jose, gets a qualifier. Alexandr Dolgopolov, who will likely be looking to get back into the top 20 with a good run, faces off with veteran German Bjorn Phau.
John Isner, still in the running for the SAP Open crown as well, gets fellow hammering server Denis Istomin.
Up the draw, Lleyton Hewitt will face Yen-Hsun Lu. Hewitt has a 2-2 career record against Lu, including a win in Memphis during the 2011 tournament.
Lukasz Kubot, who is coming off an ankle injury, will face Ryan Harrison. Big Harry struggled through a 1st round loss in San Jose that can partially chalked up to the fact he had flu like symptoms. Fernando Verdasco, coming off a 1st round loss in San Jose, will look to regroup against a qualifier. Verdasco is already in Memphis and took part in the draw ceremony along with Marin Cilic.
Milos Raonic, still looking to repeat in San Jose is also the defending finalist in Memphis. The Canadian opens with Jack Sock, and the winner will face Florian Mayer (who can be streaky on indoors) or Dallas Challenger semifinalist James Blake.
Veterans Feliciano Lopez and Benjamin Becker (a Memphis semifinalist last year) will serve it up for a spot in the 2nd round. If Becker and Raonic both advance it would be a rematch of the 2012 semifinal matchup.
Tommy Haas, still battling for the title in San Jose as well, opens with Evgeny Donskoy.
Dark Horses: Igor Sijsling and Lukasz Kubot
Sijsling played superbly in his win over Tsonga in Rotterdam and really displayed the range of his talent when he puts it all together. He won’t have an easy first couple of rounds but he will have good shots at upsets.
Kubot was playing pretty well before his ankle injury suffered during Davis Cup and is solid indoors. Given the form of the players in his draw line, Harrison and Verdasco quarters or better is a good possibility.
Cilic d. Dolgopolov
Raonic d. Isner
Cilic was solid in Zagreb and given this is also an indoor hard court tournament, he should be in good shape here. He won’t have a super easy draw the whole way, likely getting Nishikori in the quarters. Dolgo and Querrey should slug it out in the quarters, but I’ll give an edge to the more rested Dolgopolov.
Raonic is playing well and is beastly indoors, while Isner is also solid but still not quite 100% in terms of his level of play. However, Isner has a somewhat easier draw to make the semis.
Cilic d. Raonic
It could well be a slugfest but I’ll give a slight edge to Cilic, simply because he won’t have played as many matches if they both make it this far.