2016 Sarasota Challenger Preview and Predictions
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
2016 Joey Gratton Sarasota Open
ATP Challenger Tour
Sarasota, FL, USA
9-17 April 2016
Green Clay, Har-Tru
Prize Money: $100,000
Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Denis Kudla (59)
2: Diego Schwartzman (88)
3: Gerald Melzer (117)
4: Nikoloz Basilashvili (121)
5: Tim Smyczek (125)
6: Bjorn Fratangelo (131)
7: Facundo Arguello (139)
8: Jared Donaldson (142)
The last direct acceptance is Gonzalo Lama, ranked 225th.
Second round match-up to watch
(6) Bjorn Fratangelo – Dennis Novikov
In the first round Novikov had a solid 6-4 6-4 win over former world #20 Dmitry Tursunov, who despite not having played a lot of matches since returning from injury is still a tricky opponent. Both men have displayed similar form this year, so perhaps their personal match-up is what will decide this match. They have played each other three times, with Fratangelo prevailing every time. It has been close, however, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-1 at the Lexington Challenger on hardcourt and 3-6 6-3 6-2 at the Caltanissetta Challenger on clay, both last year.
Third seed Gerald Melzer is the only seed to have survived the first round, granting him with a big opportunity to reach the final. His toughest challenger on the way to the final will probably be Frances Tiafoe, who reached the second round by beating fifth seed Tim Smyczek, 6-4 6-3. Melzer, who is playing the best tennis of his career, should be too solid for Tiafoe at this point. Melzer has already won three Challengers this year and came close to beating the eventual winner Juan Monaco in the first round of Houston last week, losing 2-6 7-6(3) 4-6.
Second seed Diego Schwartzman had one of the most horrifying performances you will ever see at Houston last week, when he lost 0-6 0-6 to Marcos Baghdatis in the first round. He is desperate to recover from it and made a good start by only dropping four games in his opening round against qualifier Jose Hernandez-Fernandez. Viewing last week’s performance as an incident, he should be above the rest of his opponents in this half. He will face the winner of Facundo Arguello – Mischa Zverev in the quarterfinal and likely Fratangelo in the semi-final, all of whom he is a firm favorite against.
Melzer d. Clezar
Schwartzman d. Fratangelo
Schwartzman d. Melzer