2016 ATP Sofia Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Sofia Open is on the ATP World Tour calendar for the first time, it’s an indoor hard court tournament in Bulgaria, and Bulgarian tennis fans are excited to have a men’s tournament of their own to celebrate and attend.
Garanti Koza Sofia Open
ATP World Tour 250
February 1-7, 2016
Surface: Indoor Hard
Prize Money: €463,520
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Roberto Bautista Agut (21)
2: Viktor Troicki (26)
3: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (27)
4: Andreas Seppi (29)
Sofia lacks a top 20 player, and failed to attract home hero Grigor Dimitrov, thus it’s one of the weaker ATP 250s.
First round matchups to watch:
Damir Dzumhur vs. Jiri Vesely
Dzumhur leads Vesely 2-0 in the h2h, and won a round in Melbourne, while Vesely has yet to win this season. Vesely is a talent, but Dzumhur could well pull off a minor upset in this one.
Roberto Bautista Agut already has an ATP title this season and reached the second week in Melbourne, as the Spaniard is in great form to start the season. RBA is the tournament favorite, and he should ease past either Marsel Ilhan or Filip Krajinovic in his first match. Hyeon Chung or Adrian Mannarino is his likely quarterfinal opponent. The young Korean opens with qualifier Marius Copil, while Mannarino will open with Evgeny Donskoy. Mannarino has a challenger title under his belt this season, and the veteran Frenchman should be a minor favorite over Chung, with RBA a strong favorite for the semifinals.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez has Yuki Bhambri or Mirza Basic to open his quest for a title in Sofia. Basic qualified in Australia, and in Sofia, demonstrating strong form to start the season. GGL has an ATP quarterfinal already, and he should reach another with a win over Basic, and then a quarterfinal win over Gilles Muller. The Sydney semifinalist Muller opens with a struggling Malek Jaziri, and Ricardas Berankis or Dimitar Kuzmanov in round 2. Kuzmanov is a wild card, while Berankis is just 1-2 to start the season. Muller should serve past Berankis before falling to Garcia-Lopez, given GGL leads the h2h 4-0.
Sydney champion Viktor Troicki could be troubled by big serving Daniel Brands in round 2, presuming Brands defeats Thomas Fabbiano. Brands qualified for both Melbourne and Sofia, and has demonstrated an ATP caliber game. Troicki is the quarterfinal favorite though. Philipp Kohlschreiber has had tough draws this season, but Sergiy Stakhovsky is a beatable opponent, and so is the Vesely/Dzumhur winner. Kohlschreiber is 2-1 in the h2h against Troicki, but Troicki should keep his form and reach the semis.
Andreas Seppi is 3-3 to start the season and will face either Matt Ebden or more likely Thiemo De Bakker in round 2. On ranking and talent alone, Seppi should reach the quarters and face either Martin Klizan or Lukas Rosol, a pair of heavy ball strikers. Klizan is looking for his first win of the season against Alexandar Lazov, a wild card. Rosol drew a beatable Robin Haase. Rosol vs. Seppi is an interesting quarterfinal matchup. Seppi leads the hard court h2h 2-1, but Rosol, a streaky player, should have a slight form edge and reach the semis.
Dark Horse: Lukas Rosol
Rosol has a great chance to reach the semifinals, and a semifinal against Troicki is winnable, Rosol trails the hard court h2h 2-0, but he’s capable of turning that around if he clocks the ball liek he’s capable of.
Bautista Agut d. Garcia-Lopez
Troicki d. Rosol
RBA has a 2-0 h2h edge over GGL, while Troicki has the same edge over Rosol on hard courts, making them both favorites to reach the final.
Bautista Agut d. Troicki
Given they have never met before this match could go either way, but RBA’s game should be slightly superior.