2016 ATP Nottingham Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The grass season will have a final pit stop in Nottingham before Wimbledon gets underway. Here is a preview with predictions.
Aegon Open Nottingham
ATP World Tour 250
Nottingham, Great Britain
June 19-25, 2016
Prize Money: €648,255
Top 8 seeds (top 16 seeds receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Kevin Anderson (20)
2: Pablo Cuevas (26)
3: Joao Sousa (30)
4: Alexandr Dolgopolov (31)
5: Sam Querrey (32)
6: Steve Johnson (39)
7: Andreas Seppi (40)
8: Gilles Muller (41)
A lack of top players means Nottingham is quite an open tournament.
First round matchups to watch:
Jordan Thompson vs. Benjamin Becker
The young Australian is 5-2 on grass in recent tournaments and he’d love to make an ATP run in this 250 to boost his ranking. Becker, a steady veteran, plays well on quick surfaces and rallies well on grass, this should be a close match, and I have Becker’s experience winning the day.
Adrian Mannarino vs. Taylor Fritz
Mannarino, another standout on fast surfaces, is 5-2 on grass in recent weeks, and he has a great chance to post another solid showing after reaching the quarters in Den Bosch. Fritz is a rising young American who showed more of his tremendous promise when he took a set off of Roger Federer in Stuttgart. He’s the underdog in this match, but don’t count him out.
Lukas Rosol vs. Kyle Edmund
Taking a set off of Andy Murray at Queen’s Club last week went a long way to showing that Kyle Edmund may finally fulfill some of his promise on grass this season. The big hitting but erratic Lukas Rosol stands in his way, and with Rosol struggling, I have Edmund pulling an upset and giving British fans some excitement before Wimbledon.
The big serving Kevin Anderson hasn’t been healthy this season but he won a pair of matches in Queens and appears to be finding a bit of form. He should roll past Ivan Dodig or Julien Benneteau before running into Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco upset Stan Wawrinka in Queen’s, and I have the Spaniard upsetting Anderson after defeating the serve and volleyer Rajeev Ram (who opens with Victor Estrella).
Vasek Pospisil is a miserable 6-15 this year, his poor form this season is looking to rebound on grass. Luckily, he’ll open with a struggling Denis Istomin, presuming Istomin dispatches Damir Dzumhur in round 1. I have Pospisil falling to Steve Johnson after the American defeats John Millman or Thomaz Bellucci, both of whom are struggling. Verdasco should have the edge on Johnson given the surface.
Joao Sousa is average at best on grass and I have him falling to Dudi Sela, an Israeli veteran who is above average on the surface and tends to get enough good results to keep his ranking up. Sela opens with a qualifier, and the Sousa/Sela winner will be opposite Becker/Thompson most likely in round 3. Guido Pella is poor on grass, and thus I have Becker over Sela for a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Mannarino/Fritz winner has a great chance of reaching the quarters as well. I have Mannarino defeating dirtballer Paolo Lorenzi, and then Andreas Seppi, after Seppi defeats James Ward or Malek Jaziri. Seppi was a quarterfinalist in Halle but he’s had a rather mediocre season. Between Mannarino and Becker I have Mannarino winning and the Frenchman reaching the semis.
Halle quarterfinalist Marcos Baghdatis is set to do well in Nottingham. His experience, and attacking abilities on fast surfaces should earn him a win over the great ball striker Denis Kudla, after Kudla beats Evgeny Donskoy. Baghdatis is then likely to matchup with Sam Querrey, after Querrey defeats Diego Schwartzman or a qualifier. Querrey was a semifinalist in Den Bosch and is also solid on grass, but I have Baghdatis strongest in this section.
The #2 seed Pablo Cuevas is poor on grass which sets up either Brydan Klein or a qualifier to defeat him and reach round 3. Ricardas Berankis will be opposite either Dan Evans or Liam Broady, both brits. This is a hard to project section, but Evans has more experience and thus I have him reaching the quarters. Baghdatis should prevail from there.
Gilles Muller, a finalist in Den Bosch, is 6-2 on grass this season and is a great serve and volleyer on grass. Muller should serve past Jiri Vesely, after Vesely defeats Horacio Zeballos, then serve past the veteran Mikhail Youzhny. Youzhny reached the quarters in Stuttgart and should have an edge against Teymuraz Gabashvili, along with dirtballer Pablo Carreno Busta in round 2.
Alexandr Dolgopolov is unpredictable, in particular on grass, he could fall to Edmund or Rosol in round 2, but if he can find form I have him reaching the quarterfinals with an additional win over Mikhail Kukushkin, before falling to Muller at that stage. Kukushkin just won a challenger on clay, and will face Alex Ward or a qualifier in round 2.
Dark Horse: Adrian Mannarino
Outside of the major seeds, Mannarino is a threat to win the tournament, he has every reason to want to grab a title and the ranking points to go with it, and unlike some of the other players in the draw, he’s less likely to be focused on Wimbledon.
Verdasco d. Mannarino
Baghdatis d. Muller
Verdasco is 2-0 against Mannarino, and I have Baghdatis over Muller given the 3-0 h2h.
Baghdatis d. Verdasco
Baghdatis is 3-0 against Verdasco in his career and he’d love to win an ATP title, this is a great chance for him to do just that at an advanced stage in his career.