2016 ATP Gstaad Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A nearly all European field headlines the ATP 250 on clay in Gstaad, as the European clay court season heads towards completion.
J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad
ATP World Tour 250
July 18-24, 2016
Prize Money: €463,520
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Feliciano Lopez (20)
2: Gilles Simon (28)
3: Albert Ramos (35)
4: Thomaz Bellucci (49)
Lacking an elite name, the Gstaad field is rather wide open.
First round matchups to watch:
Elias Ymer vs. Daniel Brands
Yemer has lost three matches in a row, and he crashed out twice in home Swedish tournaments. Brands has a recent challenger semifinal on clay, though his power game lends itself to a faster surface. The younger Ymer still has a bright future, but I have Brands notching an upset.
(6)Fernando Verdasco vs. Horacio Zeballos
Zeballos recently won a challenger on clay, and could challenge Verdasco if the Bastad finalist is fatigued. The Spaniard is a heavy favorite though.
Robin Haase vs. Thiemo de Bakker
de Bakker is the #2 Dutchman and ranked about 30 spots lower than his counterpart Haase. These players know each other well, but de Bakker has been on a miserable losing streak, not having won an ATP match since Barcelona. With Haase playing slightly better, he should prevail.
Top seed Feliciano Lopez doesn’t have a game well suited for clay, but he should still defeat a qualifier in his first match, either Yann Marti, a home favorite, or more likely Jan Mertl, to setup a quarterfinal match with Guido Pella. Pella comes off success in Davis Cup, and faces Konstantin Kravchuk, who is somewhat allergic to clay, in round 1. The clay specialist will then face the Brands/Ymer winner, on clay, Pella over Lopez is my pick in the quarterfinals. Pella is just 9-9 on clay this year, but he’s made a few deep runs including a final in Rio.
Although Juan Monaco, who also played Davis Cup this weekend, could pose trouble, Thomaz Bellucci is a two-time Gstaad champion and looks set to flourish once again at the tournament. Bellucci is a poor 12-10 on clay this season and in danger of falling outside of the top 50, but he had success in Davis Cup over the weekend while the oft injured veteran Monaco is a bit more unpredictable. He’ll open with serve and volleyer Dustin Brown in round 1. Bellucci vs. veteran Mikhail Youzhny is my pick for the quarters in this weak section. Youzhny isn’t in great form, but wild card Johan Nikles, and either Mirza Basic or Denis Istomin aren’t imposing on clay. Youzhny is 2-0 against Istomin with a retirement loss. Bellucci has a winning record as of late against Youzhny, while he’s tied 2-2 in the h2h with Monaco.
Gilles Simon looks set to face fellow veteran, and recent Bastad finalist Fernando Verdasco in the quarters. Simon will face qualifier Thiago Monteiro or qualifier Antoine Bellier in round 2, with Verdasco/Zeballos or Haase/de Bakker to follow. The Frenchman is 9-5 on clay this year, and although Monteiro is in good form, he’s a young gun with far less ATP main draw experience. Verdasco is sharper than Haase, but I see him falling short against the steadier Simon in the quarters, especially given the fatigue factor.
Bastad champion Albert Ramos should roll past either Radu Albot or qualifier Tristan Lamasine, with former Gstaad champion Paul-Henri Mathieu likely in the quarters. PHM only has to defeat Marco Chiudinelli, and Jozef Kovalik or Henri Laaksonen, none of whom are at his level on clay if he plays up to his capabilities. Ramos over PHM is my pick in the quarters, presuming Ramos isn’t overly fatigued.
Dark Horse: Thiago Monteiro
Monteiro is an incredible 34-14 on clay this year, with tremendous results on the challenger level, and recently, ATP main draw breakthroughs. This young Brazilian is sure to feature on ATP main draws for years to come, and he’s at his best on clay. He scored a win over another French favorite, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, earlier this year, and Simon could also fall when they face each other in round 2. Monteiro will grow into a well known name soon enough.
Pella d. Bellucci
Ramos d. Simon
If Ramos continues his good form, he should defeat Simon, I have Pella playing slightly better than Bellucci, and getting into this final.
Pella d. Ramos
This is a tough tournament to predict, but Ramos winning two matches in a row seems like too tough of an ask for the dirtballing spinner.