2016 ATP Kitzbuhel Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Austria and Switzerland both have ATP clay court events this week, spreading out some of Europe’s top ATP talent (as does Umag, the third clay 250 this week).
ATP World Tour 250
July 18-23, 2016
Prize Money: €463,520
Top 4 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP rankings in parentheses)
1: Dominic Thiem (9)
2: Philipp Kohlschreiber (23)
3: Marcel Granollers (45)
4: Paolo Lorenzi (48)
Kitzbuhel has a big drop off in ranking after the top two seeds.
First round matchups to watch:
Albert Montanes vs. Gerald Melzer
Albert Montanes won a round in Bastad last week, and the Spanish veteran looks set to oust Austrian clay specialist Gerald Melzer, who has stalled in his development as a player this year in some ways. The aging Montanes could have a good tournament.
(7)Inigo Cervantes vs. (Q)Daniel Gimeno-Traver
DGT qualified and has been in solid form over recent weeks. Cervantes likewise has been playing well and this should be a competitive, and technically sound clay court match. It’s hard to predict a winner, but a fresher Cervantes likely has a slight edge.
Top seed Dominic Thiem is a heavy favorite, nearly retired wild card Jurgen Melzer, or Taro Daniel should fall to him in round 2, with Cervantes or Montanes set to do the same in the quarterfinals.
Roberto Carballes Baena and Paolo Lorenzi will contest a quarterfinal spot. RCB just has to defeat wild card Dennis Novak in round 1. With Lorenzi slightly better this season on clay, I have him advancing from the quarterfinals after defeating a struggling J.L. Struff. Struff is seeded, and faces wild card Akira Santillan in round 1. The 19 year old Santillan was born in Japan and appears to have a bright future ahead as he makes his ATP debut, although he’s sharper on faster surfaces compared to clay. Both Michael Berrer and Daniel Munoz De La Nava are in terrible form, so Struff likely wins in round 2 as well.
Philipp Kohlschreiber, the defending champion, could use some good mojo. Kohlschreiber was a quarterfinalist in Hamburg and should have no problem defeating either Karen Khachanov or qualifier Filippo Volandri in round 2. Facundo Bagnis or Dusan Lajovic should be his quarterfinal opponent. Lajovic played Davis Cup, although he’s been struggling recently, and Rogerio Dutra Silva his round 1 opponent hasn’t been playing well either. Bastad quarterfinalist Bagnis should defeat Mischa Zverev and Lajovic, before falling to Kohlschreiber.
Spanish veteran Marcel Granollers looks to be a near lock for the semis based on how his draw sets up. Granollers will face the lower ranked qualifier Maximo Gonzalez or Adam Pavlasek in round 2, with likely Lukas Rosol to follow in the quarters. Rosol hasn’t been playing well, although Nikoloz Basilashvili, and either Igor Sijsling or Kenny de Schepper are weaker opponents on clay than he is. De Schepper and Sijsling play power tennis, but poorer than Rosol does, while on clay, Granollers has a clear edge.
Dark Horse: Facundo Bagnis
This Argentine should make at least the quarterfinals, and he could take advantage of a faltering Kohlschreiber to go even farther. An ATP breakthrough is imminent.
Thiem d. Lorenzi
Kohlschreiber d. Granollers
Kohlschreiber played well here last year, and it’s going to be hard to stop Thiem on home clay.
Thiem d. Kohlschreiber
In Austria, Thiem should win this final and continue his incredible and exhausting season as he pushes to make the World Tour finals. This would be his first win against Kohlschreiber on clay (0-2).