2015 Sport 1 Open (@Sport1Open) Preview and Predictions
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
ATP Challenger Tour
Scheveningen, The Netherlands
20-26 July 2015
Prize Money: €42,500
Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Robin Haase (74)
2: Daniel Munoz-De La Nava (109)
3: Jan-Lennard Struff (111)
4: Aleksandr Nedovyesov (115)
5: Inigo Cervantes (117)
6: Nikoloz Basilashvili (120)
7: Andrey Kuznetsov (121)
8: Norbert Gombos (126)
The last direct acceptance is Jesse Huta Galung, ranked 259th. Former world #18 Florian Mayer received a wild card, as well as former #94 Thomas Schoorel.
Top seed and hometown player Robin Haase experimenting with a singlehanded backhand in practice earlier this week.
First round match-ups to watch
(7) Andrey Kuznetsov – Jesse Huta Galung
Going by Huta Galung’s recent form this might be a very quick affair in favor of the Russian. Despite it not being all that relevant given it was a dead Davis Cup rubber, Huta Galung lost 6-3 6-3 to doubles specialist Olivier Marach in his most recent match, who doesn’t have a singles ranking. It is indicative of Huta Galung’s form this year, however, as he has been unable to make a dent at Challenger level. Nevertheless, Huta Galung has a tendency to raise his level in front of a home crowd, being a two-time winner of this event, together with three victories at the other Dutch clay Challenger in Alphen aan de Rijn. It’s clear that you should never count Huta Galung out.
(4) Aleksandr Nedovyesov – Andrey Golubev
You can’t make this up. A couple of days ago these two were battling it out together in their Davis Cup tie for Kazakhstan against Australia on grass, which they lost 2-3 after being up 2-0. A 22-hour flight later and they will have to play each other in a completely different environment, the first round of a Challenger on clay. As for the match itself, it’s basically a toss-up. At least their jetlags won’t be a problem in this round.
Despite growing up at this venue, top seed Robin Haase never did that well here, having disappointing losses against countrymen in his last three appearances. Twice against Huta Galung (R2 last year and the final in 2013) and against Matwé Middelkoop in the first round in 2008. Nevertheless, his deciding victories in the Davis Cup tie against Austria, winning the doubles and beating world #26 Dominic Thiem in straight sets, made sure he enters this event on a high. The draw is also kind enough for him to make a run to the final. He potentially faces Horacio Zeballos in the second round, who provided us with the most epic moment of last year’s edition of the tournament.
If Haase gets past fifth seed Inigo Cervantes in the quarterfinal, one of Jan-Lennard Struff, Adam Pavlasek, Andrey Kuznetsov or Jesse Huta Galung is most likely to await him there. It’s quite difficult to pick one specific favorite out of those four, it’s very much an equal race between them.
Unranked local Roy de Valk, who is perhaps more famous in The Netherlands for being a singer, heroically managed to qualify by beating world #399 Alexandre Folie 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the final round of qualifying, but a cruel twist of faith awaited. He drew Florian Mayer in the first round, while Folie got in a a lucky loser after Igor Sijsling’s withdrawal and drew #1892 Tim van Terheijden. De Valk lost 6-2 6-1, while Folie won 6-1 6-2.
Another Dutchman can set himself up to make a deep run here, Thiemo de Bakker. He plays the slumping eighth seed Norbert Gombos in the first round, after which Folie potentially awaits. De Bakker beat world #26 Dominic Thiem in five sets during Davis Cup this weekend, so he should enter this tournament on a high, just like Haase. De Bakker tends to struggle with his motivation at Challengers, but after an exciting Davis Cup weekend and in front of a home crowd he might find the inspiration he needs to perform well.
De Bakker will face stern competition from several players. For starters second seed Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, his potential quarterfinal opponent, the 33-year-old Spaniard who is having the best year of his career and is nearing the top 100 for the first time. The other two main contenders in this half are Nikoloz Basilashvili and Florian Mayer, who are likely to face off in a very exciting second round encounter. 23-year-old Basilashvili reached the third round at Wimbledon this year and is bound to reach the top 100 very soon, while 31-year-old former world #18 Florian Mayer has just returned from an one-year injury lay-off and is trying to recapture his old form.
Haase d. Huta Galung
Mayer d. De Bakker
Mayer d. Haase