2016 ATP Umag Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The seaside town of Umag in Croatia hosts a player favorite ATP 250 tournament in a week full of clay court 250 action.
Konzum Croatia Open Umag
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: Pablo Cuevas (20)
2: Joao Sousa (32)
3: Jeremy Chardy (38)
4: Fabio Fognini (39)
Although it lacks an elite field, Umag has a lot of competitive balance this week.
First round matchups to watch:
Gastao Elias vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
A battle of ATP semifinalists last week, Elias reached the semis in Bastad, while GGL did the same in Hamburg, and now they will battle in round 1 on clay a week later. Elias has a game good enough to compete with GGL, but the Spaniard is the favorite.
(6)Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Andreas Seppi
Seppi comes off Davis Cup play, while PCB has been solid enough on clay this year. Seppi is slightly better known, but the seeded Spaniard deserves to be called the favorite in this clay court match.
Former champion Pablo Cuevas is the top seed, and looks set to reach at least the semifinals, as long as he can get past Elias or GGL in his first match. 19 year old Nino Serdarusic, or veteran Teymuraz Gabashvili will face the Seppi/PCB winner for a spot in the quarters opposite Cuevas. Cuevas was a finalist in Hamburg most recently, and unless he’s fatigued, he’ll improve on his 21-7 clay mark this season and defeat likely PCB as well to reach the semis.
Fabio Fognini will face qualifier Andre Ghem or Hamburg semifinalist Renzo Olivo in round 2. Fognini comes off Davis Cup weekend, and although Olivo could upset him, you have to assume the veteran Italian dirtballer will find a way to win. Doubles specialist Franko Skugor has been a surprise to make this many ATP main draws, although he’s a wild card this time, but Thomas Fabbiano should defeat him in round 1, while Nicolas Almagro does the same against Damir Dzumhur. Almagro losing to Fognini is my pick in the quarters. It’s a tough section to predict, but Fognini has more upside these days on clay.
Joao Sousa has been poor on clay this year, but Leonardo Mayer has been struggling, and wild card Nikola Mektic lacks ATP experience. Sousa into the quarters opposite Hamburg champion Martin Klizan is my pick. Klizan should roll past Enrique Lopez-Perez, then Andrej Martin or Sergiy Stakhovsky. Klizan keeps playing well at the ATP 500 level, and suddenly had a tremendous week in Hamburg on clay. Coming out of injuries, Klizan vs. Sousa makes sense as a result on clay.
Jeremy Chardy is merely 6-6 on clay this year, setting up a good chance he’ll suffer an early defeat as the #3 seed. However, Aljaz Bedene is in poor form, and qualifier Nikola Cacic has little ATP experience, which makes Bedene a defacto favorite for the quarterfinals opposite Jiri Vesely. A struggling Vesely had Davis Cup weekend and opens with qualifier Michael Linzer, with either unfit Filip Krajinovic or Carlos Berlocq set for the next round. Berlocq is in solid form, but I have a feeling Vesely will still upset him, and then lose to Chardy in the quarterfinals, as they both play power tennis.
Dark Horse: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
GGL is experienced and can play amazing tennis at times, if he upsets the top seed Cuevas, he could win the whole tournament.
Cuevas d. Fognini
Klizan d. Chardy
Fognini leads the h2h with Cuevas, and Klizan and Chardy are even, but I have form favoring Cuevas and Klizan on clay this year.
Cuevas d. Klizan
I’d be surprised if Klizan has the fitness to maintain back to back ATP titles. Cuevas is the best clay courter in this field.