2016 ATP Geneva Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The final tune ups for the 2016 French Open will take place this week as the ATP has clay court 250 stops in Geneva, Switzerland, and Nice, France. Here is a preview of year 2 for the ATP Geneva Open.
Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open
ATP World Tour 250
May 15-21, 2016
Prize Money: €499,645
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Stan Wawrinka (4)
2: David Ferrer (9)
3: Marin Cilic (11)
4: John Isner (16)
Geneva features a strong field for a 250 level tournament, the top players are all in the top 20.
First round matchups to watch:
(6)Federico Delbonis vs. (WC)Janko Tipsarevic
Former top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic is playing just his third tournament of the season after a limited 2015 season where he struggled mightily. Tipsarevic hasn’t had a full season on tour since 2013 and he’d love to just gain some confidence in this match against the solid clay courter Delbonis. The Argentine has reached the semifinals in his last two clay court tournaments, and also has a title on clay this season, so he should advance rather easily into the next round.
(8)Sam Querrey vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
Querrey has never lost to Garcia-Lopez (5-0, all matches on hard court). On clay, GGL is likely a slight favorite, but he’s underperformed thus far on the dirt, posting a semifinal, and a pair of quarterfinals as his best showings, all of those results coming in 250 level tournaments. Querrey reached the quarterfinals in Houston, and the third round in Madrid, showing he’s clearly improved his game on clay. The American could pull off a minor upset in this one and advance into the next round.
A struggling Stan Wawrinka badly needs to find form, and confidence, as he takes to the courts in Geneva just a week away from defending his French Open title at Roland Garros. Wawrinka is just 1-2 in his last three matches on clay, and 3-3 overall on the surface this year, a miserable showing for a top 5 player. The Swiss favorite is likely to contend with the Spanish top spinner Albert Ramos in his first match, presuming Ramos dumps out Teymuraz Gabashvili for his fifth loss in a row. Ramos hasn’t been fantastic by any standard this season, and thus Wawrinka likely advances, but he could tumble out early if his poor play continues.
Philipp Kohlschreiber is who I have toppling Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, the German opens with Inigo Cervantes, with either Pablo Carreno Busta or a qualifier to follow. Cervantes qualified in Rome, then promptly lost to Kohlschreiber, who went on to run into Rafael Nadal in his next match. Kohlschreiber was a semifinalist in Barcelona, and won Munich. He’s a steady veteran who will give it his best in this tune up tournament. PCB was a finalist in Estoril and can’t be counted out as well, the Spaniard is aiming to climb into the top 40, but I have Kohlschreiber winning, and then getting his first win over Wawrinka (0-4 h2h) in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka slipped past Kohlschreiber in Monte Carlo this year on clay in a close two set match.
Americans John Isner and Steve Johnson are the surprising seeds at a clay court tournament in Europe. Isner will face Lukas Rosol or a qualifier, while Johnson opens with the veteran Mikhail Youzhny, and Andrey Kuznetsov/Dudi Sela on deck. Isner is playing for the first time on European clay this season. He was a semifinalist in Houston and I do have him defeating a struggling Rosol/qualifier to reach the quarterfinals. Rosol is ranked outside the top 70 and has been losing even challenger matches on clay as of late.
Johnson is unlikely to make it that far, as Kuznetsov is the favorite in this section. Johnson’s first opponent Youzhny is 3-4 on clay as of late , while Johnson is 0-3. Kuznetsov, a quarterfinalist in Barcelona, should defeat Sela, who much prefers hard courts, and in fact comes off a challenger hard court final. I have Kuznetsov over Youzhny, and then Kuznetsov over Isner for a spot in the semifinals. The Russian should have the highest motivation for points, and a better clay court game than others in this section.
David Ferrer is just 8-4 on clay this year, and is almost certain to end up with more losses this season than last on the surface. The Spaniard is still a top 10 player though, and at 34 he’s still going to fight to hold onto his now precarious ranking. Ferrer lost in the round of 16 at both of the clay court Masters this year but he should dispatch a struggling Denis Istomin/qualifier, and Querrey/Garcia-Lopez in the quarters. The Querrey/GGL winner gets a qualifier or Rajeev Ram, who is poor on clay, in round 2. I have Ferrer over Garcia-Lopez for a spot in the semis.
Marin Cilic and Federico Delbonis are likely to compete for the remaining semifinal spot, unless defending champion Thomaz Bellucci can recapture the form of last season and defeat both Mikhail Kukushkin, and Delbonis (or Tipsarevic) for a spot in the quarterfinals. Bellucci did snap a poor run of form to reach the third round in Rome, and he’ll be the favorite over Rome qualifier Kukushkin, who went on to reach the second round there. Delbonis should beat them both though, while Cilic, playing on clay for the first time this year, is still the favorite against either Ernests Gulbis or Ricardas Berankis. The erratic Gulbis qualified in Rome, but he’s still far from his best. I have Delbonis over Cilic simply because the Croatian lacks the body of work on clay this season.
Dark Horse: Andrey Kuznetsov
I have the Russian, who has had a breakthrough season in 2016, reaching the semifinals, and he could even walk away with his first ever ATP title if he plays some of his best tennis of the season. This young gun should continue his rise up the rankings this week.
Kohlschreiber d. Kuznetsov
Ferrer d. Delbonis
Kohlschreiber is 3-0 on clay against Kuznetsov, Ferrer is 2-0 against Delbonis, and thus they should be favorites for the final.
Kohlschreiber d. Ferrer
Ferrer has never lost to Kohlschreiber on clay, but with his game slumping a bit, I have Peppo capitalizing and winning the title.