2016 ATP Bucharest Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The smaller ATP tournament this week is the 250 stop in Bucharest, Romania, one of the few ATP stops in Eastern Europe. Here is a look at the field, and predictions for the action.
BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy
ATP World Tour 250
April 18-24, 2016
Prize Money: €463,520
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Bernard Tomic (21)
2: Ivo Karlovic (30)
3: Federico Delbonis (36)
4: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (38)
A lack of top clay courters means Bucharest is one of the most open ATP tournaments this season, and a lot of players have a tremendous chance to earn ranking points.
Bernard Tomic is a miserable 4-11 on clay over the last three seasons, and thus even though he’s the top seed, either Andrea Arnaboldi, or Robin Haase will be gunning to defeat him in his opening match. The qualifier Arnaboldi is in a good position to trouble Tomic, but I have either Paul-Henri Mathieu, or Fernando Verdasco dispatching him in the quarterfinals. Verdasco is facing qualifier Aldin Setkic, and is currently in danger of slipping outside the top 100, after formerly being a top 10 player. PHM faces qualifier Radu Albot, after reaching the quarterfinals in Casablanca. Verdasco is 5-0 against PHM, and thus I have him reaching the semifinals, after defeating Tomic on clay.
Defending champion Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will face either Kyle Edmund or Lukas Rosol in round 2. The power hitter Rosol has been shaky on clay in recent years but he won the title in Bucharest in 2013. Edmund is surprisingly good on clay for a British player. GGL should be good enough to win his third clay court match of the season and reach the quarterfinals over Rosol/Edmund.
Rio finalist Guido Pella should slip past journeyman veteran Adrian Ungur, and then get past most likely Daniel Gimeno-Traver to reach the quarterfinals. DGT opens with Adrian Mannarino, a poor clay courter. DGT recently qualified in Monte Carlo and can have his moments on clay, but Pella is the better dirtballer. Pella has a h2h win over GGL, but given his previous success in Bucharest, I have it Verdasco vs. Garcia-Lopez in an all Spanish semifinal.
Ivo Karlovic is 0-5 this season, and 1-4 on clay over the past two seasons. In short, the veteran Croatian is a poor clay courter, in terrible form. Thus, he’s the #2 seed, but he should go out to either Lucas Pouille, or Sao Paulo semifinalist Dusan Lajovic in his first match. Pouille has upset wins over David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet in recent weeks, thus the Frenchman should burst into the quarterfinals. Veteran Paolo Lorenzi has a great chance to earn an ATP main draw win over Diego Schwartzman, DSS has been rather disappointing this year, even on clay. After DSS, Lorenzi should face Taro Daniel, presuming Daniel dispatches qualifier Michael Linzer in round 1. Pouille has the edge over Lorenzi in the quarterfinals.
Federico Delbonis won the Casablanca title, and he could add another ATP title to his resume this week in Bucharest. He’s the best clay courter in his section, as he’ll open with Illya Marchenko or Dudi Sela, with either Marcos Baghdatis or Damir Dzumhur likely to follow in the quarters. Baghdatis is normally not well suited for clay but he was a quarterfinalist in Houston, and he opens with a struggling Marco Cecchinato. Dzumhur opens with Marius Copil, a recent clay court challenger semifinalist. Dzumhur is 7-0 against opponents not named Milos Raonic in recent weeks, and thus I have him defeating Baghdatis, before falling to Delbonis in an engaging quarterfinal.
Dark Horse: Lucas Pouille
Besides Delbonis or GGL, the title is likely to go to a dark horse, and Pouille is a strong possibility. This talented Frenchman has a great forehand, is solid on clay, and has been on a steady upward trend in recent years. He’s not as flashy, or consistent, as some of the other young guns, but he is leading the next generation of French tennis.
Garcia-Lopez d. Verdasco
Delbonis d. Pouille
Though Verdasco is 3-0 against GGL on clay, GGL is simply a better player these days, and he has a chance to sneak himself into an ATP final out of relative obscurity.
Delbonis has never faced Pouille, that match is worthy of the final, but I have the Argentina winning his second title in recent weeks so thus he has to advance.
Delbonis d. Garcia-Lopez
This isn’t an easy tournament to predict, but Delbonis showed he can play consistent clay court tennis at the 250 in Casablanca, and he’s due for another title.