2014 ATP Portugal Open (@PortugalOpen) Preview
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Tennis East Coast is happy to announce we will have on-site coverage from the Portugal Open ATP/WTA joint event all week long from our guest columnist Manuel Traquete. Here is an ATP preview.
ATP Oeiras (Estoril)
ATP World Tour 250
April 28-May 4, 2014
Prize Money: € 426,605
Top 4 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Tomas Berdych (6)
2: Milos Raonic (9)
3: Marcel Granollers (22)
4: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (32)
First Round matchups to watch:
Albert Montanes vs. Santiago Giraldo
Montanes and Giraldo will meet for the sixth time in their careers. Giraldo is a surprise current finalist in Barcelona, just his second career ATP final and potentially his first title. Giraldo has semis and a current final in his last 2 events, while Montanes reached the second round in Monte Carlo as qualifier and the third in Barcelona in his last 2. Both players are showing good form. Giraldo leads the clay h2h 2-1, including a win this year in Buenos Aires, but if he’s out of gas from all the tennis in Barca, Montanes could find his way into round 2.
He won the title in Oeiras (Estoril) in 2009 and 2010 so he has a great history at this event.
Top seed Tomas Berdych, who lost in the second round of Monte Carlo and is looking to bounce back, opens with Somdev Devvarman or Matt Ebden. He should find his way into the quarterfinals against the great Portugese hope Joao Sousa, who needs to beat a qualifier and Andrey Golubev/Adrian Mannarino to get there. Sousa has lost 3 straight matches on clay and has just 1 clay quarterfinal this season as his best result, but he should feel comfortable playing with home support in Portugal’s only ATP event. Neither Mannarino nor Golubev have much clay court prowess.
Casablanca champion and Monte Carlo quarterfinalist Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who is nearly back in the top 30, opens with Gastao Elias or Filippo Volandri. Elias, a Portugese wild card, is currently in a challenger final on clay and had a challenger semi before that. He might be fatigued, but he’s in great form. Volandri, on the other hand, has only won 1 main draw match this year and has lost 10. I expect GGL against Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarters, as PCB reached quarters in Casablanca and the third round as a qualifier in Monte Carlo. He comes off an opening round loss in Monte Carlo and is looking to bounce back against Mikhail Kukushkin, who has lost 3 straight on clay and is in awful form. Victor Hanescu or a qualifier await PCB/Kukushkin in round 2.
Monte Carlo quarterfinalist Milos Raonic is playing his first non-Masters/Grand Slam event of the season as he opens with Pablo Cuevas or Aleksandr Nedovyesov and then Teymuraz Gabashvili or Carlos Berlocq.
Barcelona quarterfinalist Gabashvili, who upset David Ferrer en route, opens with a struggling Lukasz Kubot and then should face Berlocq (who opens with a qualifier). Warlocq hasn’t made it past the second round of any tournament on clay this season.
Marcel Granollers will get the winner of Montanes/Giraldo in a tough round 2 match and the winner could face Dmitry Tursunov, Rui Machado, a qualifier, or Alejandro Gonzalez.
Tursunov was bounced in the opening round of Barcelona. Machado is a Portugese wild card who was once in the top 60 but now languishes outside the top 200. Gonzalez has struggled on clay this year, but is good on the surface and made quarters in Houston. As you can seem a qualifier will have a good dark horse chance here
Dark Horse: Albert Montanes
A non-seeded player is most likely to make the quarters out of the Granollers section, as he is the weakest seeded player with a bye. I’m factoring in that Giraldo is probably fatigued by the time he plays his match with Montanes, and then after winning that he beats his countryman Granollers, as he has done before twice on clay in their two most recent clay court meetings (2008/2009). With Granollers having lost two straight, that’s a strong possibility. With a weak quarterfinal opponent, I have Montanes in the semis this week.
Garcia-Lopez d. Berdych
Raonic d. Montanes
GGL just beat Berdy in Monte Carlo in 3 sets and he has a 2-1 overall h2h against him on clay, thus I have to go with him in the on paper upset. Montanes has a 1-0 h2h on clay against Raonic as he beat him 2 years ago in Monte Carlo, but that match went 3 sets. Since Raonic has improved, including on clay, while Montanes has not, with his strong consistent play this year, Milos should get through.
Raonic d. Garcia-Lopez
Raonic is 2-0 career against GGL, with no meetings on clay, and as stated above, he’s been strong and consistent this year and deserves a title to show for it.