2013 ATP Newport Preview, Predictions
Hall of Fame Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 250
Newport, Rhode Island, USA
July 8-July 14, 2013
Prize Money: $519, 775
Top 8 seeds
1: Sam Querrey
2: John Isner
3: Igor Sijsling
4: Lleyton Hewitt
5: Edouard Roger-Vasselin
6: Marinko Matosevic
7: Kenny De Schepper
8: Rajeev Ram
First round matchups to watch:
(6)Marinko Matosevic vs. Jack Sock
Matosevic comes off an opening round loss at Wimbledon, while Sock comes off a title on hard courts at the Winnetka Challenger. The young American with a blazing forehand is now in the top 100. Matosevic beat Sock in San Jose this year, and that, plus Sock likely being fatigued, means I give the Aussie a slight edge. Sock could still very well could win this match.
(4)Lleyton Hewitt vs. Matt Ebden
Hewitt and Ebden have never played each other but they will most certainly be familiar with each other’s games as Davis Cup teammates. Hewitt, a finalist last year in Newport, comes off 2nd round at Wimbledon while Ebden lost in the opening round of Wimbledon. Ebden did have success on grass this year in winning the Nottingham Challenger. He also won the doubles title in Newport in 2011. The veteran Hewitt should have the edge, but this should be a quality match on grass.
(5)Edouard Roger-Vasselin vs. Ivo Karlovic
Roger-Vasselin comes off an opening round Wimbledon loss, while Dr. Ivo is back for his first event since April. His ranking has slipped out of the top 150 because of viral meningitis. They met in Delray this year, with Roger-Vasselin notching a win en route to the final, but Karlovic did beat him last year on hard courts in Moscow. Given the expected rustiness of Karlovic, edge to Roger-Vasselin in this one.
Denis Kudla vs. Vasek Pospisil
Kudla will hopefully be fully healthy again and ready for a challenge from Pospisil on home soil. Vashy suffered a tough 5 set loss to Mikhail Youzhny in the Wimbledon 2nd round. But by taking 2 sets off Youzhny, along with a 1st round win on grass, he did prove his mettle on the surface. Expect a back and forth match, but a slight edge to Kudla, as he seems to be rising faster at the moment.
Adrian Mannarino vs. James Blake
Mannarino is very much a grass court specialist, and roared to the 4th round at Wimbledon before falling to Jerzy Janowicz in 5 sets in a match where he faded late. Blake made the 2nd round of Wimbledon (and was also a Newport runner up 11 years ago in 2002), but was routined by Bernard Tomic. The two have never met, but given Mannarino’s prowess on grass, edge to him.
Sam Querrey, who lost in the first round of Wimbledon to Tomic and was a 2009 Newport finalist, will play Tim Smyczek. Same will likely then face the Nicolas Mahut/Rhyne Williams winner in a big 2nd round match. Mahut routined Williams at Queen’s Club this year, and I’m sure the Tennessean will be eager to avenge that loss.
2009 Newport champion Rajeev Ram will play a qualifier and then 15 year old wild card and top 15 junior Stefan Kozlov, or Michal Przysiezny. It will be Kozlov’s first career ATP match, and first career match above the futures level.
Wimbledon 3rd rounder Igor Sijsling will take on Matteo Viola and should face Jesse Levine, assuming Levine beats Yuichi Sugita. Sijsling has a great chance to do damage with this draw.
Wimbledon 4th rounder Kenny De Schepper, a big guy with a powerful serve out of France, will play a qualifier. After that, he’ll see Michael Russell or Ilya Marchenko.
The Hewitt/Ebden winner will play Flavio Cipolla or wild card and 2008 finalist Prakash Amritraj. Amritraj, who is 29, is ranked outside the top 300. He plays an odd schedule and was semi-retired for a time. At other times has played just a limited number of events.
Matosevic/Sock will get a qualifier in Round 2.
Double defending Newport champion John Isner will play Ryan Harrison. The pair of Americans have met 5 times overall, and 3 times this year, with the overall head to head favoring Isner 4-1. The h2h this year favors Isner 2-1, and the grass court h2h favors Isner 1-0 as Isner beat Harrison at this event last year. In the 2nd round, the winner will battle the Blake/Mannarino winner.
Roger-Vasselin/Karlovic will play Kudla/Pospisil to select a quarterfinalist out of this section.
Dark Horse: Nicolas Mahut
As a grass court specialist, it is somewhat hard to codify Mahut as a dark horse, but given his ranking, and the fact he is a wild card, he gets the designation this time. Mahut also won the ATP event in Den Bosch on grass.
Assuming he beats Williams, he should be able to upset Querrey, and then get past Ram and Sijsling/De Schepper most likely. He has a perfect route until the final, where Hewitt/Isner/Kudla could all be a challenge.
Mahut d. Ram
Sijsling d. De Schepper
Hewitt d. Matosevic
Isner d. Kudla
Mahut shouldn’t have it too hard against Ram. Sijsling-Schep should be a battle, but my intuition favors Sijsling. Hewitt should get by over Matosevic, who I think beats a tired but otherwise dangerous Sock to get out of that section. Isner could lose to Mannarino in Round 2, but given he has won here twice in a row, even in his current disappointing form, I think he survives. I have Kudla as having the best chance of getting out of that section, though Roger-Vasselin and Pospisil both could.
Mahut d. Sijsling
Hewitt d. Isner
Grass court favorites should rule the day if these are the semis matchups. Mahut with a slight edge over Sijsling. Hewitt lost to Isner in the Newport final last year, but this is a different Isner, and thus I give an edge to a somewhat rejuvenated Hewitt. Don’t forget that Hewitt beat Isner at Indian Wells this year and has a 4-1 overall h2h.
Hewitt d. Mahut
Mahut could win it, but I’ll go with Hewitt to do one better than last year and take home the title. Odds are pretty good that he will be a Hall of Famer once he retires and he’ll have a plaque in Newport. He may as well bag a Newport ATP trophy, too.
—Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com