2014 ATP Sydney 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 Sydney preview. There’s also the major Kooyong Classic exhibition going on next week, which attracts many top players.
Apia International Sydney
ATP World Tour 250
January 6-January 11, 2014
Prize Money: $452,670
Top 4 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses):
1: Juan Martin Del Potro (5)
2: Jerzy Janowicz (21)
3: Andreas Seppi (25)
4: Dmitry Tursunov (29)
Just one top 20 player for this event, as many to players prefer to skip tournament matches the week before a slam. Sydney will be the only tune-ups for Del Po and Janowicz before the AO. Sydney is a joint WTA event.
First round matchups to watch:
(5)Vasek Pospisil vs. Sam Querrey
Pospisil reached the semis in Chennai, albeit facing weaker competition, and his form looks good. However he retired in the second set of his semifinal match with a sore back, and his health status for this event is probably in doubt. Querrey returned to tournament action by taking care of Dmitry Tursunov in Brisbane before falling to Marinko Matosevic in 3 sets. Querrey won their only meeting 2 years ago, but the match was close and played on grass. With Pospisil’s health in doubt, if he doesn’t withdraw, I expect Querrey to pull through.
Joao Sousa vs. Lukas Rosol
Two intriguing players coming off first round losses in their first tournaments of the year. Sousa was routined by Victor Hanescu in a match in which he was the favorite, while Rosol was relatively pedestrian against Rafael Nadal. They both have prowess on hard courts and could use some Mojo going into Melbourne. This is the first meeting between the pair.
Florian Mayer vs. (WC)Marinko Matosevic
Surprising Doha semifinalist Florian Mayer played some great tennis in his upset of Andy Murray, along with two other match wins, while Matosevic finally got a win on home soil in Australia. In fact, he got two of them, reaching the quarterfinals in Brisbane after two matches that went the distance. Mayer beat Matosevic twice on clay last year, while Matosevic got a win indoors in 2012.
So really, the head to head is up in the air. Both players looked relatively worn down in their most recent matches–losing 3 and 2 and 1 and 1. Thus, recovery will be a big deal and we will have to see which player can keep his relatively good form going.
(8)Marcel Granollers vs. Bernard Tomic
Marcel Granollers comes off the semis in Chennai, his best win being an upset of Benoit Paire in the quarters, while Bernard Tomic went 2-1 in the Hopman Cup singles and his form looks acceptable.
This is their first head to head meeting, and with Tomic being the defending champion here, a lot of pressure is on him, especially ranking points wise.
Alex Dolgopolov vs. Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Alex Dolgopolov showed flashes of quality, but still exhibited inconsistent play in his 3 set loss to David Ferrer in Doha. The Ukrainian speedster is now working with the flashy Fabrice Santoro as his coach, and he will face current Chennai finalist Edouard Roger-Vasselin, and he is winless in three tries against ERV. I have a feeling Dolgo can grab a win—if his form continues to be solid and Roger-Vasselin is tired after playing so much tennis in Chennai.
Juan Martin Del Potro will play his only AO warm up tournament in Sydney. First up for Delpo is Nicolas Mahut or a qualifier, and most likely Querrey in the quarters in what would be an interesting match. Sam needs to beat Pospisil, of course, and then Radek Stepanek/Sam Groth. Groth, with his powerful serve could also sneak into another quarterfinal as he did in Brisbane.
Dmitry Tursunov, coming off that round 1 loss to Querrey in Brisbane, will face Rosol/Sousa in what could be a very competitive second round encounter. The winner should be expected to face Brisbane quarterfinalist Marin Cilic, who looks to be shaking off the rust and opens with a qualifier, befofre Denis Istomin or Pablo Andujar.
Jerzy Janowicz will make his 2014 debut against Dolgopolov/Roger-Vasselin and I think Dolgo has the potential to trouble him but probably not ERV. The winner will get one of Granollers/Tomic, Jarkko Nieminen/Qualifier in the quarters.
Nieminen has historically played well in Sydney as he is a former champion, while Tomic is the defending champion, making this an interesting section.
Andreas Seppi will face Mayer/Matosevic in his first match, coming off of the Hopman cup, and that match has plenty of upset potential. The winner will face one of Julien Benneteau/Matt Ebden/Carlos Berlocq/Qualifier in the quarters. Benneteau is a former finalist in Sydney and this section is very open.
Dark Horse: Alexandr Dolgopolov
If his form is at least somewhat on, and he gets past a tired ERV, the meeting with Janowicz looks to be a must watch. It would be their first. If Dolgo can upset JJ I expect Tomic/Nieminen to be waiting the quarters, a winnable match. That would be followed by a semi against anyone in the section above is and is highly winnable (Seppi/Matosevic etc.). That would allow Dolgo a chance at reaching the final with good play.
Del Potro d. Cilic
Janowicz d. Matosevic
Del Po should be able to beat Querrey and find his way to the final. Cilic has beaten him twice in his career, both on hard courts, but JMDP has won a vast majority of the h2h meetings. And you have to wonder if Cilic is at full fitness yet.
JJ should be able to make his way to the final as well, and I’ll go with Matosevic out of that other toss-up section, figuring the Aussie is in good form and not overly fatigued.
Del Potro d. Janowicz
It would be their first meeting, and JMDP seems to be the better player right now, so I will go with him to win it.