2015 ATP Estoril Preview
Steen Kirby and Manuel Traquete, Tennis Atlantic
For the second year in a row, Tennis Atlantic will have Manuel Traquete reporting on all the happenings at the Estoril open, which has a new location this year, and has been titled the Millennium Estoril Open with a new ownership and management group. It’s still a 250 on red clay, and Portugal’s only ATP event.
Millennium Estoril Open
ATP World Tour 250
April 27-May 3, 2015
Prize Money: € 439,405
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Feliciano Lopez (12)
2: Kevin Anderson (17)
3: Tommy Robredo (20)
4: Leonardo Mayer (25)
The seed cutoff is 45, as the Estoril Open has three top 20 players headlining the field, it may be not be star studded at the top, but it’s a balanced field overall.
First round matchups to watch:
(7)Nick Kyrgios vs. Albert Ramos
A rising young gun, and next gen star, against an experienced, mid-level dirtballer, describes this matchup. Kyrgios doesn’t have a lot of experience on clay, and it’s by far his worst surface, in fact he lost to another next-gen star, Elias Ymer in Barcelona in a third set tiebreak, Ramos comes off a disappointing loss to Pablo Andujar, but he qualified and Monte Carlo, and his form has been relatively good this year, all be it flaky. Kyrgios has more talent, but Ramos’ skill on clay should give him the short term advantage to win this match, as Kyrgios works on developing his clay court abilities.
(6)Jeremy Chardy vs. Borna Coric
Chardy defeated Coric in four sets at the Australian Open this year, but the teenage Croat will look to get his revenge on clay. He comes off a round 2 loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky in Bucharest, and his last two losses have been gut punch three setters (to Ivo Karlovic in Bucharest, and Alex Dolgopolov in Monte Carlo), now he will look to right the ship against Chardy, who reached a quarterfinal in Houston on clay, and lost to Federer in MC. Chardy is decent on clay, and he’s one of those reliable mid-tier players that stays at the ATP level, but doesn’t quite have enough in him to challenge for titles. This is the type of match Coric should win if he is to break through and get himself into the top 40 by the end of the year, and I do have him winning this one.
Top seed Feliciano Lopez, who has not played well on clay the past two weeks, is in grave danger of going out in his opening match, presuming Robin Haase is able to defeat Ricardas Berankis, who is riding a three match losing streak, in round 1. Haase has beaten Lopez twice on clay, and could do so for a third time, though his form is unpredictable, and in fact the form of both players is. Though Lopez has struggled in Houston and Barcelona, Haase is not a trustworthy player, and thus Flopez should be favored for the quarters.
The Kyrgios/Ramos winner will have an inside track to reach the quarters below Lopez, as they will face the winner of Filip Krajinovic/Alejandro Gonzalez. Krajinovic comes off a challenger semi on clay, while Gonzalez has lost two straight matches. I have Ramos beating Krajinovic, and then Lopez to reach the semis. He’s 2-0 against Lopez, and those were hard court wins, on clay, he should actually be the superior player as their seems to be a matchup issue there.
Tommy Robredo will open with a qualifier or Pablo Carreno Busta. Robredo comes off the quarters in Barcelona and is 4-2 in his last two tournaments on clay (Monte Carlo the other), additionally, he’s 3-0 against PCB (who hasn’t won a match since Rio in February (7 straight losses), so look for Robredo in the quarters. In those quarters, he could face Gilles Muller, who hasn’t won an ATP match on clay since 2012, or perhaps faded veteran Albert Montanes, a 34 year old pensioner who was formerly reliable but hasn’t won consecutive matches since Quito. Montanes opens with a qualifier, in a section a qualifier could bust open, while Muller will play wild card Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal (20). I have Muller in the quarters, losing to the more accomplished clay courter Robredo in my own bracket, though Montanes may have something left in the tank.
Kevin Anderson vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is likely to be the most intriguing second round matchup, Garcia-Lopez comes off a his second ATP title of the season in Bucharest, where he found form, and though fatigue may play a factor, I’d still favor him to defeat Anderson on a clay court. GGL opens with a qualifier, and Anderson has two previous hard fought hard court wins against the versatile Spaniard. Anderson last played in Houston where he reached the semis with a pair of solid wins.
The winner of GGL/Anderson will have to deal with the strongest section of the draw, as home favorite Joao Sousa, the Portugese number 1, opens against wild card Rui Machado, a former top 70 player, who has seen his ranking fall outside the top 200 at 31 years of age. Sousa will face the winner of Chardy/Coric, and Coric-Sousa will be another huge second round match, should it take place. That contest looms large, and Sousa is 2-2 on clay in Europe so far. I personally have Coric into the quarters but it’s a difficult pick.
I also have Coric beating Garcia-Lopez (and I feel Sousa would too) simply due to the fatigue factor, if Anderson wins however, he could well reach the semis.
4 seed Leonardo Mayer will get a difficult match against Nicolas Almagro Round 2, presuming Almagro beats washed up journeyman Stephane Robert, who is playing under a protected ranking. Almagro is 2-0 in the h2h against Mayer, and Mayer is struggling, at least to an extent right right now, while Almagro was a semifinalist in Buenos Aires, and a quarterfinalist in Casablanca and Sao Paulo. Look for the veteran former top 20 Spanish fighter to reach the quarters and setup a big match against Richard Gasquet, who is also coming back from injury this week. Gasquet should be able to ease in against Marinko Matosevic, who struggles on clay, and then defeat Gastao Elias, a Portugese wild card, or a qualifier. Almagro has beaten Gasquet twice on clay (3-2 h2h overall) and it should be a close match, however I give the slightest of edges to Nico given Gasquet’s lack of matchplay as of late, and the adjustment to clay.
Dark Horse: Nicolas Almagro
I have the unseeded Almagro taking the title this week, thus he’s the obvious dark horse pick, he has a h2h edge in most of his possible matchups, and this draw isn’t that imposing. Almagro has been a top player before, and the 29 year old has the ability to impose himself on this field if he plays well. He has 12 previous ATP titles, and has reached 9 additional ATP finals, all of those have come on clay.
Robredo d. Ramos
Almagro d. Coric
Robredo is 2-1 on clay against Ramos, and likely in better form, Almagro should also have an edge on clay against Coric, though that match could go either way.
Almagro d. Robredo
Robredo is in theory in better form, but Almagro has a remarkable 7-1 h2h record, including two wins this year against his fellow Spanish veteran, with that wide of a h2h gap, Almagro is my pick to win the title in Estoril this week.