2016 ATP Munich Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Tennis Atlantic is excited to once again have on-site coverage from the BMW Open in Munich, as this week you’ll be treated to reports from our onsite reporter Marc Imperatori. Here is a preview of the ATP 250 clay court stop.
BMW Open by FWU AG
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: David Goffin (13)
2: Gael Monfils (14)
3: Dominic Thiem (15)
4: Philipp Kohlschreiber (27)
Three players at the top of their game right now, and a local German standout compromise the top seeds in Munich.
First round matchups to watch:
Victor Estrella vs. (Q)Cedrik-Marcel Stebe
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe is playing his first ATP match in three years, and he did it the hard way, earning his spot in the main draw by winning a pair of qualifying matches. The 25 year old was absent from the tour for all of 2014, and most of 2015, due to injury rehab. He’s now back on tour and is playing just his third event of the season, the first two were a futures stop, and challenger qualifying.
Stebe was once an extremely talented young gun who had seven tour level wins in 2012, and four in 2011, along with a fantastic record on the challenger tour (four career challenger titles). With the chance at a solid ATP career still in sight, he’ll face a struggling Victor Estrella, who has incurred a sharp decline in his game this year, probably due to age. Estrella is still the favorite, but Stebe could get a huge confidence boosting win at a home tournament in Germany.
(8)Alexander Zverev vs. Malek Jaziri
Jaziri just stunned Zverev, who will be playing at home as one of the fan favorites, and he’s 10-2 over his last three tournaments, a stunning turnaround after a rough early season. He’s won a pair of challenger titles in recent weeks, and reached the quarterfinals on clay in Barcelona. Zverev is 3-2 in his last five clay court matches, and would love to get a big win in this one. Given the home advantage, I see him pulling it off.
Dustin Brown vs. (WC)Juan Martin Del Potro
Like Stebe, Juan Martin Del Potro is also on the comeback trail from injury. He’s 5-3 on the season, and is playing his first clay court tournament since the 2013 Rome Masters. Del Potro is a big hitter, but he was solid on clay at an earlier stage in his career and he’ll have a good chance to dispatch the exciting Dustin Brown, who hasn’t played a tournament in weeks. This is a great form test for Del Potro who has won at least one match in all three of his tournaments this season.
David Goffin is 4-1 on clay this season and with an 18-7 overall record, he’s had a great season thus far, as the #1 Belgian player. He should easily defeat either Stebe or Estrella, to setup a quarterfinal meeting with home player Alexander Zverev or Jaziri. The winner of that round 1 match will face Lukas Rosol or Denis Istomin, as Rosol looks to snap a four match losing streak, and Istomin is on a three match losing streak himself. Zverev should give Goffin a good match, but I have the top seed reaching the semis.
Dominic Thiem, 10-2 on clay this season, with a pair of ATP titles, is in the midst of a career year, and he’ll be a heavy favorite to reach the semifinals from his section. Thiem should open with Sarasota challenger champion Mischa Zverev, presuming Zverev dispatches Santiago Giraldo in round 1. After that, he could face Thomaz Bellucci, or perhaps Ernests Gulbis. A struggling Bellucci opens with Mikhail Youzhny, while Gulbis faces doubles specialist Ivan Dodig in this unimpressive section. Gulbis has lost four straight, and thus I have Dodig pulling an upset, while Bellucci should snap a long losing streak and beat Youzhny for the fourth straight time, then dispatch Dodig. This is a tough section to predict, but Thiem will take it.
Gael Monfils reached the final in Monte Carlo and he should blitz past either qualifier Igor Sijsling, or Bucharest quarterfinalist Marco Cecchinato. Fabio Fognini found form to reach the Barcelona quarterfinals and he should continue his momentum by dispatching young gun Max Marterer in the opening round. Marterer recently won a futures title on clay. Fognini’s round 2 opponent will be either Mikhail Kukushkin or Evgeny Donskoy, neither player is great on clay, but Kukushkin has lost three straight, and thus I have Donskoy advancing, before losing to Fognini.
Monfils has won his previous two matches against Fognini, and he should be in better form, thus I have him reaching the semis.
Barcelona semifinalist Philipp Kohlschreiber is a two-time Munich champion, and he should continue his strong start to the clay season by reaching the semifinals in Munich as well. He’ll open his quest in Munich with a qualifier, either Matthias Bachinger, or Florian Mayer, both of whom are veterans, with Bachinger in better form. Kohlschreiber should then defeat Del Potro, or perhaps J.L. Struff in the quarterfinals. Struff qualified in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, he’ll open with the seed Vasek Pospisil, who is poor on clay, and then will face the Del Potro/Brown winner. Kohlschreiber should be good enough to defeat Del Potro.
Dark Horse: Malek Jaziri
With his great form, watch out for the veteran Jaziri to defeat Zverev once more, and reach another ATP quarterfinal on clay. Jaziri is a great shotmaker, but his work ethic and fitness has always been what has held him back. We’ll see what he can do in Munich.
Thiem d. Goffin
Monfils d. Kohlschreiber
Goffin beat Thiem this year in Australia, and they have split clay meetings 1-1, both of which were ATP finals. Both guys are in solid form and have had great seasons, but Thiem appears ready to rise, and thus I have him advancing. If Monfils stays healthy and focused, he should be a cut above Kohlschreiber as well. Monfils has won four straight meetings against Kohlschreiber.
Thiem d. Monfils
Thiem beat Monfils last year in Umag on clay, either player could snatch the title, but a young and hungry Thiem appears set to win Munich.