2016 ATP Sydney Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The final ATP stop on the Emirates Australian Open Series is in Sydney at the joint ATP/WTA Apia International as many players will look to get their final tune ups in before heading over to Melbourne for the Australian Open.
Apia International Sydney
ATP World Tour 250
January 11-January 17, 2016
Prize Money: $404,780
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Bernard Tomic (18)
2: Dominic Thiem (20)
3: Viktor Troicki (22)
4: Grigor Dimitrov (28)
Sydney lacks a top tier player this year as it’s anybody’s tournament to win.
First round matchups to watch:
Martin Klizan vs. (WC)Jordan Thompson
Klizan is on a four match losing streak dating back to last season while Thompson comes off the semis of the Noumea Challenger. The young Australian still lacks an ATP win, but he’s had some great challenger results and sits at a career high ranking just outside the top 150. On home soil look for Thompson to fight hard and pull off an upset, especially if Klizan fires wildly from the baseline.
Tommy Robredo vs. (WC)John Millman
33 year old Tommy Robredo had a decent fall swing, but last year was a relative disappointment for the Spaniard, and he faces a home Australian who he trails 0-3 in the career h2h. Millman is talented and seems to have Robredo’s number. The Australian won a match in Chennai, and he should be able to do the same here with a quality round 1 win.
Adrian Mannarino vs. (Q)Nicolas Mahut
Mahut is 5-1 against Mannarino and has won their last four meetings. Mannarino comes in as the champion in the Noumea challenger however, and his form looks to be sharp. The serve and volleying veteran Mahut qualified to snap a four match losing streak, and given the h2h he has a great shot at an upset against a possibly fatigued Mannarino.
Borna Coric vs. Gilles Muller
Muller won a round in Chennai, while Coric reached his first ever ATP final there and is off to a fantastic start at the beginning of the season. The Croatian teenager is talented, but likely tired, and Muller’s serve and volley should do enough damage to earn him the win, and potentially a deep run this week.
Brisbane semifinalist Bernard Tomic captured the title in Sydney in 2013. Tomic is the home favorite and tends to perform well under those conditions. His junkballing game should allow him to get past Thompson/Klizan and then Leonardo Mayer or Sam Groth in the quarterfinals. Groth, and his first round opponent Federico Delbonis, are both on four match losing streaks dating back to last season. The Australian is a big server while FDB prefers clay. Mayer opens with Teymuraz Gabashvili who won a match in Doha, and beat him in Basel last year. The Argentine comes off the quarterfinals in Doha. Groth could catch fire, but I have Tomic over Mayer as the odds on quarterfinal match.
Defending champion Viktor Troicki opens with the Robredo/Millman winner. Troicki won a round in Brisbane and should have enough to beat Robredo or Millman. Mannarino/Mahut or Denis Istomin/Andreas Seppi are quarterfinal options. Seppi is 3-1 against Istomin on hard courts, and he should be able to beat Mannarino or Mahut as well, though it’s a very open section. Seppi has a h2h win on hard courts against Troicki, but the Serbian should be a cut above, and able to reach the semifinals with a chance to defend his title.
Dominic Thiem had a great start to his season, reaching the semifinals. The young Austrian appears primed to perform in Sydney as he should have the inside track against Coric/Muller in a great second round match, and likely Jeremy Chardy in the quarterfinals. Muller could also make a run, and a match against Coric would be a young gun battle. Chardy comes off the quarterfinals in Doha, but trails qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 0-2 in the h2h. Round 2 for Chardy/Kukushkin will be Julien Benneteau or James Duckworth. Benny reached the quarterfinals of the Noumea challenger in his first match on tour since the spring of last year, while Duckworth took a set off Thiem in Brisbane.
Thiem and Chardy have never met, but I’ll go with Thiem’s form, like Tomic’s, to reach the semifinals.
Brisbane quarterfinalist Grigor Dimitrov should be able to reach the semis, but Hopman Cup finalist Alexandr Dolgopolov (went 3-1 in round robin play), could upset the apple cart. Dimitrov will open with an easy match against qualifier Max Marterer or Pablo Cuevas while Dolgopolov opens with big hitter Thomaz Bellucci and is due to face Alex Sarkissian or Simone Bolelli round 2. Sarkissian qualified as the young American continues to rise. Dolgopolov should get past Bellucci and Bolelli to reach the quarters.
Dimitrov is 2-1 on the hard court h2h against Dolgopolov, Dolgo looks to be razor sharp right now though. He’s one of the most unpredictable talents on tour, but presuming he has it together, I have him reaching the semis.
Dark Horse: Gilles Muller
There are a number of potential dark horses this week with such an open field. Muller would need to beat Coric and Thiem, but if he beats those young guns, he’ll have a great shot at a run to the final or beyond. He has the game for it, it’s just a matter of how well he serves.
Tomic d. Troicki
Thiem d. Dolgopolov
Tomic is 2-1 on hard courts against Troicki, Thiem has a hard court win against Dolgopolov. I wouldn’t put it past the Ukrainian to run to the title, but he’s very hard to predict.
Tomic d. Thiem
Both Thiem and Tomic started the season with identical records. Tomic is a former champion in Sydney however, and should have a slight edge to capture another Australian Open series title.