2015 ATP Hamburg and ATP Gstaad Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2015 ATP clay court season continues with a 500 series event in Hamburg, Germany, and a 250 in Switzerland as many of the top European players are still battling away on the red clay, even as tennis action in America shifts to hard courts.
Bet-At-Home Open German Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
July 27-August 2, 2015
Prize Money: €1,285,955
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Rafael Nadal (10)
2: Tommy Robredo (21)
3: Roberto Bautista Agut (23)
4: Andreas Seppi (26)
Nadal headlines a field that is dotted with Spanish players, 11 out of the 32 man singles field in total. Perhaps this tournament should be renamed the “Spanish tennis championships”.
First round matchups to watch:
(1)Rafael Nadal vs. Fernando Verdasco
Nadal dominates the h2h record but these two left handed Spaniards have played some great matches against each other, and this one could be of top-class as well. Verdasco has in fact won the last two meetings, including a win this year in Miami over Rafa, but he’s a rather pedestrian 8-7 on clay this year. Nadal struggled at Wimbledon again, and overall is having a rough season, but he’s still 21-6 on clay and I’d presume focused and fit for Hamburg, thus I give him the edge to win this one.
(3)Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Borna Coric
A rematch of their match just a couple of days ago in Umag, RBA won that one 6-3 6-3 and the Umag semifinalist should be the favorite here, but Coric is a talented young gun who is improving and learning day by day on tour. Both these guys are great shotmakers when in form and this match could be close, I don’t see Coric flipping the script, you never know.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. Benoit Paire
Kohli beat the Bastad champion Paire on clay this year in Barcelona and he comes off the quarterfinals in Umag, thus his clay court form seems to be alright. Paire, who has a talented backhand just like Kohli, just won his first ATP title in Bastad, and given that he’s notorious for having a lack of consistency and commitment, he may well be wiped out for Hamburg, giving Kohlschreiber the edge.
(2)Tommy Robredo vs. (WC)Alex Zverev
The 18 year old Zverev just lost to the veteran Robredo in the Bastad semis but she scored three solid wins there and really seems to enjoy playing in Hamburg, where he had a shocking run deep into the week last year. Robredo, a former Hamburg champion, showed good form in Bastad, but the veteran has been notoriously shaky from week to week this year, and I wouldn’t put it past Zverev to learn from his loss and best his veteran rival just a few days later.
Given this is clay, even a struggling Nadal likely has a clear path to the semifinals. He’ll face the winner of Andreas Haider-Maurer/Jiri Vesely after FerVer, AHM may well be injured while Vesely isn’t in great form and likely doesn’t have the game to deal with Rafa’s topspin. In the quarters Bastad semifinalist Pablo Cuevas likely awaits.
Cuevas will open with struggling young gun Diego Schwartzman, and then gets JerzyJanowicz (who beat qualifier Taro Daniel on Monday) in round 2. JJ i just 3-5 on clay this year, but two of those wins have come in the past two weeks, so his form may be improving, still Cuevas is an accomplished clay courter who tends to have consistency on the surface. Cuevas and Rafa played a three setter in Rio back in the spring, it was close for two sets but then Nadal put up a bagel in the third, and he likely will break his opponents resistance this time too.
Andreas Seppi looked awful in Umag, and thus the #4 seed is actually an underdog against Martin Klizan who won a round there. Klizan has a big game, but he’s streaky, while Seppi lacks a lot of weaponry, but can frustrate opponents when his game is clicking. You never know how it will go with Klizan, but if he wins Florian Mayer awaits, as the funky hitting German veteran slipped past fellow veteran Albert Montanes Monday. Mayer is just 4-9 on clay this year and hasn’t been great since returning from injury, thus Klizan has the edge to reach the quarters.
The section below Klizan/Seppi is rather weak as Lukas Rosol faces off with Simone Bolelli, while veteran Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will face 18 year old wild card Jaume Munar, who played doubles with Nadal this tournament. Rosol is 6-8 on clay in 2015, and tends to have streaky form while the shotmaker Bolelli is slightly better on the surface, but likewise hasn’t caught fire as of late. Bolelli likely beats Rosol while the 32 year old GGL should beat Munar, who isn’t quite ready for the ATP main stage. It’s hard to pick a winner between Bolelli/GGL, but GGL has a better record on clay this season, and thus gets the edge. Klizan beat GGL in Rio on clay last year, and in this section that is up for grabs I have him reaching the semis in what would be a promising result. He has a semifinal in Barcelona and a title in Casablanca on his 2015 record.
Robredo/Zverev will face Paire/Kohlschreiber, and from that I have Kohlschreiber reaching the quarters as fatigue should factor on Paire and Robredo, while Kohli has home soil advantage. 2012 champion Juan Monaco is a strong favorite to reach the quarterfinals above that section, Pico, 13-10 on clay in 2015, opens with the continually lost and struggling Ernests Gulbis, who to his credit did win a match in Bastad, a rare sight for him this season. After that Monaco will face Lucas Pouille, who beat Inigo Cervantes on Monday. The young gun Frenchman Pouille has plenty of talent but struggles with consistency, he could reach the quarters as well, but a Monaco vs. Kohlschreiber quarter seems like the safest prediction. Kohlschreiber is 2-1 against Monaco and with his superior form should be able to survive an interesting section and reach the semis.
RBA/Coric will face Aljaz Bedene or veteran Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Bedene appears to be in reasonably good form, while DGT does not, and thus RBA over Bedene should be the second round result, unless Coric spoils proceedings. #8 seed and 2013 champion Fabio Fognini, an Umag quarterfinalist, opens with Jeremy Chardy, who he is 4-0 in the h2h against, and then unless he collapses, will face Albert Ramos round 2, after Ramos scored a minor upset over his countryman Nicolas Almagro on Monday. Fognini is 6-0 against Ramos, and thus the Italian should reach the quarterfinals and perhaps beyond this week.
Fognini is 2-1 on clay against RBA and both seem to be in decent form, Fognini has always had the talent but mentally he tends to float, and thus I have RBA reaching the semis in another difficult match to predict.
Dark Horse: Philipp Kohlschreiber
Zverev, Klizan, and Coric are all non-seeds who could have excellent weeks in Hamburg, but the home player Kohlschreiber should reach the semis based on the draw. He has clay court ability, veteran experience, and hopefully good form and could reach the final based on what happens in the RBA/Fognini section.
Nadal d. Klizan
Bautista Agut d. Kohlschreiber
Presuming no hiccups for Nadal he’s clearly the favorite given his level on clay is above the rest of the field, Klizan shocked him in Beijing last fall,but that as on hard courts, and Nadal still owns a 2-1 h2h advantage, peak Klizan with his power can bother Rafa, but I don’t see that happening on clay, likewise RBA and Kohli have a close record, but RBA’s form should see him through to an all-Spanish final.
Nadal d. Bautista Agut
Nadal beat RBA in Madrid last year, and generally RBA lacks the big game needed to beat the top 10 level players in key moments. Rafa has struggled this season, but he’s still long term the greatest clay courter of all time, and it takes a special effort to beat him. What’s interesting is both of my picks could lose in the first round, or at least have their toughest matches at that stage. Nadal should win his second ATP Hamburg title.
Swiss Open Gstaad
ATP World Tour 250
July 27-August 2, 2015
Prize Money: €439,405
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP rankings in parentheses)
1: David Goffin (14)
2: Feliciano Lopez (18)
3: Dominic Thiem (24)
4: Pablo Andujar (35)
Two top 20 players in Gstaad as it’s a pretty solid field for a 250.
First round matchups to watch:
Robin Haase vs. Marcel Granollers
Haase comes off of a challenger semifinal and tends to play well in Switzerland, that said he’s just 2-4 on ATP clay this year (10-3 below that level) and he’ll be facing off with Spanish veteran Marcel Granollers, who owns a 2-1 h2h record against him. Granollers dropped to 6-7 in ATP main draw clay court matches this year with an opening round loss in Umag, and if Haase can keep his mental game together he should beat the loud Spanish grunter and advance to round 2.
Top seeded Belgian David Goffin has what should be a clear path to the quarterfinals as his round 2 opponent is Argentine veteran Horacio Zeballos. Zeballos got past young gun Andrey Rublev in round 1 but he lost to Goffin at Wimbledon (though clay is his best surface) and given the difference in ranking and talent, D Goff is a strong favorite, even after an opening match loss to eventual Bastad champ Benoit Paire.
Joao Sousa is likely to be Goffin’s quarterfinal opponent, the Umag finalist comes off of a fantastic week in Croatia, and the Portugese #1 has now reached two clay court finals in 2015 (Geneva and Umag). Fatigue could play a factor, but the battling baseliner will face journeyman Swiss wild card Henri Laaksonen in round 1, which hould be an easy match, and then Bastad quarterfinalist Denis Istomin awaits. Istomin already scored a round 1 win over Maxime Teixeira and is in good form, but Sousa has a h2h win against him this year, and likely has the advantage on clay. Goffin is 2-1 against Sousa in the h2h and should be fresher, thus I have the undersized ball striker reaching the semis.
Defending champion Pablo Andujar’s toughest early match towards defending his title is likely to come in the quarterfinals against Thomaz Bellucci. Andujar faces Dusan Lajovic first, after Lajovic beat qualifier Calvin Hemery in round 1 and he should move his 11-8 clay court mark in 2015 to 12-8 before facing Bellucci. Bellucci, a two time Gstaad champion, opens with the struggling Kimmer Coppejans after reaching the Bastad quarterfinals. After Coppejans he should breeze past Stephane Robert or Joao Souza, his countryman, both of whom are relative journeymen.
I have Bellucci getting past Andujar and into the semis, as he’s 4-1 on clay in the head to head, and the big hitting Spaniard appears to be in better form, along with the fact he loves Gstaad.
#2 seed and newlywed Feliciano Lopez, who hasn’t been particularly hot this season (just 7-7 on clay with 1 ATP final in Quito boosting those stats), will face Blaz Kavcic or Julian Reister in round 2. Reister qualified with ease while Kavcic tends to struggle on clay, thus Lopez over Reister is the likely round 2 result. The serve and volleying Spaniard still has enough game to beat the journeyman German.
A struggling Santiago Giraldo (11-11 on clay in 2015) will face veteran Paolo Lorenzi in round 1, presuming he still has enough big game hitting to win that he could get an interesting match with Andrey Kuznetsov, who comes off of a clay court challenger final, in round 2. Kuznetsov will need to recover quickly from that final and beat Marsel Ilhan first, and I wouldn’t put reaching the quarterfinals past him, but if fatigue is a factor, a Giraldo vs. Lopez quarterfinal is the most likely outcome, even with both players not in the best of form.
Lopez has a 2-0 h2h against Giraldo though they have never met on clay (Lopez’s worst surface and Giraldo’s best), and it could go either way but Lopez probably slices and serves into the semis.
Austria’s Dominic Thiem, the young gun champion of Umag, has a weak section he could feast on and make another deep run, but he may have trouble recovering and Federico Delbonis, his first opponent, could take advantage. Delbonis just defeated Marco Chiudinelli, Thiem is the better player, and I have him reaching the quarters, but we’ll see what kind of shape he’s in. Haase/Granollers could face him in the quarters, or Pablo Carreno Busta, who should dispatch the slumping Mikhail Youzhny in round 1. PCB, like Haase, has been in good form on challenger tour clay, and he has a h2h win over the Dutchman, thus I have a Thiem vs. PCB quarterfinal and PCB advancing (1-1 h2h on clay) due to Thiem’s fatigue.
Dark Horse: Robin Haase
Haase has a weak section and could break through over Granollers/PCB, then take advantage of Thiem’s fatigue to reach the semis. He’s had success at 250s like this before, and has the talent, but as always it’s his mental game that matters.
Bellucci d. Goffin
Lopez d. Carreno Busta
Bellucci’s power should bother Goffin and he appears to be in solid form, along with his previous success at this tournament. Lopez is simply a better player compared to PCB, but it’s clay so he may not do well.
Bellucci d. Lopez
Bellucci and Lopez have a split h2h overall, but given record and form, look for the Brazilian to win his second ATP title of the season, he also won Geneva.