2015 ATP Shenzen and Kuala Lumpur Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2015 ATP Asian Swing starts with a pair of 250 tournaments, an indoor hard court tournament in Malaysia, and an outdoor hard court tournament in China.
ATP World Tour 250
September 28-October 4, 2015
Prize Money: $607,940
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Tomas Berdych (5)
2: Marin Cilic (14)
3: Tommy Robredo (30)
4: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (29)
Shenzen four top 30 players in the field as the opening ATP tournament in China has a solid field.
First round matchups to watch:
(5)Adrian Mannarino vs. Lucas Pouille
Mannarino beat Pouille at the start of the season in Auckland in what turned out to be a sign of things to come or both players. They battled for three sets, and Mannarino went on to capture the title and post a solid season overall, while Pouille has dabbled with the ATP level and shown signs of a breakthrough. The younger Frenchman Pouille with his fantastic forehand comes off of the St. Petersburg quarterfinals and I have him upsetting Mannarino, as Adrian is just 2-5 since reaching the Bogota final this summer.
Tomas Berdych, the #1 seed, is struggling but he’ll have a winnable opening match with Austin Krajicek, after Krajicek beat James Duckworth in the opening round. Berdych has lost two straight and struggled over the Summer compared to his ranking but I’d still expect him to oust Krajicek and Jiri Vesely to reach the semifinals. Vesely faces Chinese wild card Ze Zhang in his opening match and then most likely Go Soeda, presuming Soeda defeats Zhizhen Zhang, an 18 year old Chinese wild card. The Czech has been in good form with a recent challenger semifinal, but his big hitting Davis Cup teammate Berdych is a superior player.Embed from Getty Images
Tommy Robredo put together a great run in Shenzen last year and he comes off of the quarterfinals in St. Petersburg. The veteran Spaniard could be troubled and perhaps fall to Ricardas Berankis in round 2, but Berankis is just 1-3 in his last four matches. The Lithuanian opens with Hiroki Moriya in his opening match. Robredo was poor in his St. Petersburg semifinal match but I still give him an edge over Berankis, who is talented but streaky. Simone Bolelli should await Robredo/Berankis in the quarterfinals. The Italian upset Berdych to make the St. Petersburg quarterfinals and he’s in a weak section with Andreas Haider-Maurer, and Matt Ebden/Victor Estrella. Ebden, who plays well in Asia, has a shot at upsetting Estrella, but I have Bolelli getting through regardless.
Robredo is 2-0 on hard courts against Bolelli and his recent form has been slightly better, that should be a close and entertaining match, but look for Tommy to continue his success at this tournament and reach the semifinals.Embed from Getty Images
Bottom Half:Embed from Getty Images
US Open semifinalist Marin Cilic will open with John Millman after Ernests Gulbis retired against Millman in round 1. Cilic should be the favorite for this tournament and I expect him to dominate Millman, and then Aljaz Bedene or Hyeon Chung to reach the semifinals in a very weak section. Bedene opens with Mikhail Youzhny, while Chung opens with Di Wu, another of the Chinese locals. None of those players except for Chung have been in good form but Youzhny has been horrible most of this season. Chung comes off of a challenger title and may be fatigued. With that said, I have him defeating Wu and Bedene before falling to Cilic. Cilic beat Chung in Washington this year in straight sets.
Metz quarterfinalist Guillermo Garcia-Lopez could go out in his first match against Denis Istomin, presuming the St. Petersburg quarterfinalist Istomin defeats a struggling Lukas Rosol in round 1. Istomin and GGL are both good shotmakers and I have Istomin notching a solid win before going up against the Mannarino/Pouille winner. First Mannarino or Pouille will need to be Yan Bai or qualifier Takuto Niki, both of whom are lowly ranked. I have Pouille over Istomin in a breakthrough showing to reach the semifinals and face Cilic.
Dark Horse: Lucas PouilleEmbed from Getty Images
The talented Pouille already made a run in Auckland this year and in a weak section, presuming he knocks off Mannarino, he should take advantage once more in an ATP 250 hard court event and reach the semifinals. He’s talented, though he’s disappointed at times, and this is a great chance for him to make a run.
Berdych d. Robredo
Cilic d. Pouille
Berdych should simply outplay Robredo on this surface, Cilic is by far the strongest player in the bottom section.
Cilic d. Berdych
Cilic is in better form than Berdych, and thus I have him taking the title in Shenzen.
ATP Kuala Lumpur
Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur
ATP World Tour 250
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
September 28-October 4, 2015
Prize Money: $937,835
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: David Ferrer (8)
2: Feliciano Lopez (17)
3: Ivo Karlovic (18)
4: Grigor Dimitrov (19)
The top 4 seeds are all top 20 players as KL has a strong field for a 250 event.
First round matchups to watch:Embed from Getty Images
(6)Jeremy Chardy vs. Alexander Zverev
The young Zverev has lost two straight while Chardy is playing his first match since reaching the second week of the US Open. This is an interesting style contrast as Chardy hits with power on the forehand side while Zverev prefers to rally. On indoor hard Chardy should be a slight favorite, but Zverev is seeking an ATP breakthrough to get into the top 50 and it could come this Fall.
Joao Sousa vs. (Q)Michal Przysiezny
Sousa comes off the St. Petersburg final and the former champion could be fatigued for this one, Przysiezny is a former top 100 player who is 4-1 in his last five matches. Sousa will be favored but Przysiezny has an upset chance.Embed from Getty Images
Marcos Baghdatis vs. (WC)Nicolas Almagro
Almagro is 8-1 on the challenger tour level since the US Open, but he’s struggled at returning his game up to an ATP main draw caliber this season, not to mention he’s done better on clay than hard courts. Baghdatis, a fellow big hitting veteran, is just 1-3 since reaching the Atlanta final, and could use a win to help boost his form. This match could also go either way but I favor Baghdatis who seems to be more consistent.
David Ferrer should have a relatively free and clear path to the semifinals as the top seed. Ferrer is 38-10 this season and I’d expect him to ease past either Yuichi Sugita or Radek Stepanek in his first match, then beat Viktor Troicki in the quarterfinals, presuming Troicki defeats Radu Albot and the winner of Ramkumar Ramanathan/Mikhail Kukushkin. Kukushkin can find form in tournaments like this but he lost in the openig round of St. Petersburg. Troicki is 4-1 in the h2h against Kukushkin and beat him in the Sydney final this year. Ferrer is 3-1 against Troicki though he lost to him last year on hard courts in Shenzen. This 250 is a great chance for Ferrer to capture a title after an elbow injury limited him at the US Open.
Grigor Dimitrov is 26-17 on the year and has had his share of struggles, that said his indoor record historically is solid enough and he should have the edge over the Sousa/Przysiezny winner. Chardy/Zverev or Benjamin Becker (who dumped Sam Groth in round 1) could pose trouble in the quarterfinals, as Chardy/Becker are both relatively big servers and clean ballstrikers. Dimitrov is 2-1 against Chardy in the h2h and he should be motivated enough to try to finish the season strong with at least a semifinal showing in KL.
Feliciano Lopez was in fantastic form over his final two events of the North American hard court summer, the Cincy and US Open quarterfinalist opens his fall campaign against the winner of Mischa Zverev/Rajeev Ram. The elder Zverev is in good form and should defeat Ram, but the superior serve and volleyer Lopez (compared to Ram), should rech the quarterfinals. Almagro/Baghdatis is almost certain to play big server Vasek Pospisil in round 2, as Vasek opens with Yasutaka Uchiyama. Baghdatis could well beat Pospisil, but I have it Lopez over Pospisil in the quarterfinals.Embed from Getty Images
Ivo Karlovic has served his way to a 31-19 record on the year and on this fast surface he should be lethal against Nikoloz Basilashvili or a struggling Aleksandr Nedovyesov. In the quarters he should face Nick Kyrgios, who has a Malaysian mother and is somewhat of a home player in this one. Kyrgios beat Santiago Giraldo with ease in the opening round and the talented young gun should be motivated and focused enough to reach the semifinals over Karlovic. He’ll face Tatsuma Ito or the retiring Jarkko Nieminen in round 2.
Dark Horse: Benjamin BeckerEmbed from Getty Images
Becker is just 8-18 at the ATP main draw level this year, and the veteran has struggled to stay healthy, but he’s a big server with a solid forehand and he moves well indoors, along with being a crafty shotmaker at his best. He’s 2-1 in his last three matches and the seeds Chardy and Dimitrov in his section are beatable.
Ferrer d. Dimitrov
Lopez d. Kyrgios
Ferrer has lost indoors to Dimitrov but he leads the h2h otherwise and he’s had a far better season. Lopez is 1-0 in the h2h over Kyrgios, and he’s in better form, so he should serve his way to the final.
Lopez d. Ferrer
Lopez leads the hard court h2h 5-4 and his fantastic form at the US Open bodes well for him to win this title. Ferrer still should have some rust on his game.