2014 ATP Auckland Preview & Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The final ATP tournaments before the AO are 250s on hard courts in Sydney and Auckland. Here is your Auckland analysis. There’s also the major Kooyong Classic exhibition going on next week, which attracts many top players.
ATP World Tour 250
Auckland, New Zealand
January 6-January 11, 2013
Prize Money: $455,190
Top 4 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP rankings in parentheses):
1: David Ferrer (3)
2: Tommy Haas (12)
3: John Isner (14)
4: Kevin Anderson (20)
Auckland seems surprisingly more top heavy this year with four top 20 players participating
and the seed cutoff at 43. This is a good field for a 250.
Four time champion and champion for three years straight in Auckland, David Ferrer will open with Federico Delbonis or a qualifier. Ferrer was surprisingly dispatched by Daniel Brands in Doha round 2, and we will have to see what his form is like. His string of odd losses to much lower ranked players seems to be a pattern now rather than a one-off deal.
Santiago Giraldo/Albert Montanes/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez/Robin Haase await Ferrer in the quarters in what is a very easy draw.
Kevin Anderson, who is making his 2014 debut, and is playing Auckland this year rather than Sydney (where he made the final last year), faces off with Marcos Baghdatis/Daniel Brands in round 2. Brands comes off quarters in Doha, and though he played horrendously in his last match, Anderson beat him in 4 sets at the 2013 US Open.
In the quarterfinals, it will be a qualifier/lucky loser or Rendy Lu/Igor Sijsling, as Doha finalist Gael Monfils withdrew with fatigue and won’t be participating this year. This wide open section probably most favors Sijsling to make the semis, and opens the draw up for Anderson.
Tommy Haas will face Jack Sock or Adrian Mannarino in round 2. Haas is another player making his 2014 debut and looking for a solid season. The veteran German will get one of Benoit Paire/Roberto Bautista Agut/qualifier/Michal Przysiezny in the quarters. RBA was roughly defeated in the first round of Chennai, while Paire made the quarters.
John Isner will make his ATP debut in 2014 against a qualifier or Jose Statham before likely meeting up with Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarters. Kohli has a good history of success in Auckland. He was upset early in Doha with Pablo Carreno Busta and Filippo Volandri/Horacio Zeballos as his first two matches. Only a truly poor quality level of play would keep him from these quarterfinals.
PCB was upset early in Chennai, while Volandri/Zeballos are terrible on hard courts as a general rule.
Isner partially pulled out of the Hopman with a leg injury. Injury issues have often plagued him in Australia, but I think he will be recovered in time to do well.
Dark Horse: Daniel Brands
Brands is a solid hard court player who seems to have established himself as an ATP regular at this point. With the out of form Marcos Baghdatis up first, and an underdog chance against Kevin Anderson, he could find himself in the quarters against a relatively easy opponent, most likely Igor Sijsling, giving him a shot at the semis against David Ferrer, who he just beat in Doha.
Ferrer d. Anderson
Isner d. Haas
Anderson and Ferrer have an interesting h2h record, as they have beaten each other one time each on hard courts, and their last hard court meeting at Indian Wells in 2013 went 3 sets with Anderson prevailing (Ferrer won in straights at the 2012 US Open). The form of both is in question but Ferrer has such strong history in Auckland, so I’ll pick him to prevail.
Isner and Haas have a close h2h record, but I’ll go with big John to get it done.
Isner d. Ferrer
Ferrer is 4-1 career against Isner and 3-0 career on an outdoor hard court, but their last outdoor hard court meeting was in 2009, and Ferrer I’m not sure is in good enough form to capitalize and win another Auckland title, thus I will go with Isner in a close match.