2016 ATP Estoril Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Tennis Atlantic will once again have on-site reporting from the 2016 Millennium Estoril Open, Portugal’s only ATP tournament. It’s a 250 level clay court tournament.
Millennium Estoril Open
ATP World Tour 250
April 25-May 1, 2016
Prize Money: €463,520
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Gilles Simon (18)
2: Nick Kyrgios (20)
3: Benoit Paire (22)
4: Joao Sousa (34)
First round matchups to watch:
Gastao Elias vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
Mathieu is 3-0 against Elias, but the Portugese home player comes off a great run in clay court challengers, featuring a semifinal, a quarterfinal, and a title. PHM was a quarterfinalist in Casablanca, and is looking to get into winning form. It’ll be a tough match, but I have the French player advancing.
Paolo Lorenzi vs. (Q)Elias Ymer
Bucharest quarterfinalist Paolo Lorenzi faces the young qualifer Ymer, who recently took a challenger title on clay. Lorenzi is a steady, and experienced dirtballer, while Ymer has a lot more upside and potential. This should be a good match for fans of clay court tennis, and I have Lorenzi advancing.
Gilles Simon will seek to give Estoril it’s second straight French champion, but to get that far he’ll need to defeat Elias or PHM, and then either Pablo Carreno Busta or Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals to get started. Simon is 10-5 on clay over the last two seasons, and he should reach the semifinals and move to 12-5. PCB is 4-3 over his last three clay court tournaments. He’s not in great form, but he should defeat current Bucharest finalist Verdasco, or a lucky loser, if Verdasco drops out of this draw after having to play a rain delayed Bucharest final on Monday. Monte Carlo qualifier Taro Daniel looks set to defeat qualifier Steven Diez before falling to PCB, who is the superior clay courter. Simon over PCB is my pick.
Barcelona semifinalist Benoit Paire has found form with just a pair of top ten losses in recent weeks, along with five wins. Paire should send either Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Kyle Edmund home, as neither player is in great form at the moment, then defeat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez for a spot in the semifinals. The Bucharest semifinalist GGL opens with serve and volleyer Michael Berrer, with either Thomas Fabbiano or qualifier Stephane Robert on deck, neither of whom are top players, or in good form. Paire is 2-1 against GGL in the head to head, and if he can stay focused, he has the edge.
Defending finalist Nick Kyrgios was 8-6 on clay last year, and is 14-4 on the season, making his clay debut this year in Estoril. Kyrgios is on track for a young gun battle with Borna Coric in the quarterfinals, as long as the Casablanca finalist defeats qualifier Andrea Arnaboldi and either Benjamin Becker or Rogerio Dutra Silva. Kyrgios has to beat either Daniel Munoz or Inigo Cervantes in round 2, both Spaniards are struggling. Coric and Kyrgios have never played, but I have Kyrgios advancing as he’s likely the better player at this point in their careers.
Portugese #1 Joao Sousa is in poor form and could really use a string of wins on home soil. Sousa should move to 2-3 on clay this season with a win over fellow struggler Nicolas Almagro. Almagro opens with Portugese local Frederico Ferreira Silva. Leonardo Mayer is good on clay, and should defeat local wild card Pedro Sousa, and the Lorenzi/Ymer winner to reach the quarterfinals in his first clay tournament of the season. Mayer over Sousa seems like the safe pick given Sousa’s poor play recently.
Dark Horse: Paul-Henri Mathieu
Non-seeds are unlikely to do well in Estoril, but if PHM can upset Simon, he’ll have a great shot at not only reaching the quarterfinals, but moving to the semis and beyond. He’s an experienced veteran who can find form and make a run from time to time.
Simon d. Paire
Kyrgios d. Mayer
Simon has won his previous three meetings against Paire, and Kyrgios is likely a sharper player than Mayer at the moment.
Kyrgios d. Simon
Simon and Kyrgios have never met, and it’s tough to pick a winner, but Kyrgios reached the final here last year, and he should be hungry for another ATP title this season, with a great chance to take one here.