2014 ATP Rio De Janeiro Preview, Picks
The ATP season rolls on with the brand new clay court 500 series event in Rio that is the crown jewel of the Golden Swing.
ATP Rio De Janeiro
Rio Open presented by Claro hdtv
ATP World Tour 500
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
February 17-February 23, 2014
Prize Money: $ 1,309,770
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Rafael Nadal (1)
2: David Ferrer (5)
3: Fabio Fognini (14)
4: Tommy Robredo (17)
This new 500 series event draws two top 10 players in an otherwise typical Spaniard-laden golden swing draw.
First Round matchups to watch:
Leonardo Mayer vs. Albert Ramos
Mayer lost to Fognini yet again in Buenos Aires, this time in the second round, coming off the final in Vina Del Mar. Ramos found some form and reached the quarters in BA. This will be their fourth career meeting on clay and Ramos leads the h2h 2-1, but Mayer won their last meeting in Umag last year. Each of the matches have been straight sets and both players are playing reasonably well at the moment.
(4)Tommy Robredo vs. Pablo Carreno Busta
A rematch of an opening round match in Buenos Aires last week which Robredo won 6-4 6-4. PCB will be looking for revenge in Rio. Tommy comes off the semis in BA, while PCB is looking to improve. Robredo will be the favorite of course, but revenge may be in the cards depending on Robredo’s stamina.
(2)David Ferrer vs. Jeremy Chardy
Buenos Aires champ Ferrer will have a quick turnaround against BA quarterfinalist Chardy, who in fact has made 2 straight quarterfinal showings in Vina Del Mar and BA but has faltered against higher ranked competition both times. Ferrer is 2-0 on clay and 5-1 overall against Chardy, thus he should be able to take care of business.
Ferrer has had the occasional shock loss in the past year or so, and thus he can’t be penciled into round 2 quite yet.
Rafael Nadal is the marquee player cutting the ribbon on this new tournament and his first match will be against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, a fellow Spaniard. After that, it should be Nadal vs Robin Haase, who made the quarters in Buenos Aires. Haase opens with a struggling Albert Montanes, who hasn’t won a match since before the US Open last year, a 9 match losing streak. Haase did retire in his quarterfinal match in BA, though. Nadal vs one of Mayer/Ramos, Joao Sousa/Marcel Granollers will be the quarterfinal match to be expected.
Sousa is really struggling right now, and Granollers is also not in great form, giving Mayer/Ramos a great chance at a quarterfinal appearance. Nadal shouldn’t drop a set before the semis, even if his form isn’t great.
Robredo/PCB will take on a qualifier or Filippo Volandri in round 2 and one of them should advance to the quarters to face off with Pablo Andujar/Julian Reister/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez/Qualifier. Andujar comes off quarters in BA, while GGL comes off an opening round loss there. Reister is 0-4 this year. I expect a Robredo vs. Andujar quarterfinal.
Ferrer/Chardy will do battle with Federico Delbonis or Guilherme Clezar in round 2, and it should be Ferrer vs Santiago Giraldo in the quarters. Giraldo opens with a struggling Thomaz Bellucci, and then the winner of Juan Monaco/Horacio Zeballos. All of those players out of form, except the aforementioned Colombian who made the semis in Vina Del Mar and round 2 in BA, where he lost to Ferrer. That quarterfinal would be a rematch of their BA meeting. Monaco hasn’t won a match since before the US Open last year, but he has an undefeated h2h record against Zeballos (3-0). He has a great chance to finally get a win.
Fabio Fognini finally had his 10 match clay court winning streak snapped after he lost to Ferrer in the BA final, but still his form looks red hot, even if he may be running on fumes after playing Davis Cup, Vina Del Mar, Buenos Aires and now Rio in consecutive weeks. He gets a qualifier round 1, and then Pablo Cuevas/Alejandro Gonzalez in round 2. That isn’t the toughest competition and I can still see Fognini in the quarterfinals against Nicolas Almagro, who opens with Alex Dolgopolov and then a qualifier or wild card Joao Souza.
Almagro is 2-0 on clay against Dolgo and comes off the semis in BA, while Dolgopolov is 1-2 on clay this season.
Dark Horse: Pablo Carreno Busta
I picked him as my dark horse last week for BA, and the same applies. He has to get past Robredo, but if he does, he will be a favorite against Volandri/qualifier, with the most likely quarterfinal opponent being Pablo Andujar. That one is winnable, too, giving PCB a doable path to the semis.
Nadal d. Andujar
Ferrer d. Almagro
Nadal should cruise through all comers until the final.
I think Andujar sneaks into the semis past Robredo/PCB, as he does have 1 h2h win against Robredo on clay, who may be fatigued.
Nadal is 2-0 career against Andujar and 7-0 against Robredo, including 2 wins on clay, should he advance to the semis.
Ferrer should also have a routine path to the semis, and I have Almagro beating Fognini and ending up in the semis, as Fogna should be tired. Almagro will be looking for revenge for his loss to Fogna in Vina Del Mar that went 3 sets. Ferrer just thrashed Nico in BA 4 and 2, and has never lost to him before. I don’t expect much of a match with that one, either.
Nadal d. Ferrer
Ferrer has beaten Nadal just once on clay, in 2004, and Nadal has rolled in every time since, including four wins on clay last year against his fellow top countryman. The pick has to be Rafa to win the inaugural Rio Open.