2016 ATP Chengdu Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A new ATP 250 event in Chengdu, China takes place this week, here is a look at the players taking part and their path forward as the ATP Asian swing kicks off.
ATP World Tour 250
September 26-October 2, 2016
Prize Money: $840,915
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Dominic Thiem (10)
2: Nick Kyrgios (15)
3: Grigor Dimitrov (21)
4: Feliciano Lopez (26)
Chengdu boasts a strong field featuring some popular second tier stars for the first ever run of this tournament.
First round matchups to watch:
(Q)Radek Stepanek vs. Yen-Hsun Lu
Stepanek hasn’t faced Lu in 8 years, but he’s 2-0 in their h2h matches and has been on a great run of form in recent months. The Czech has qualified for three consecutive ATP events, and he also had a good showing at the US Open, although he’s played sparingly this season due to health concerns and age.
Lu, as usual, has performed well on the challenger tour, and is a steady hard court ball striker, though he lacks the weapons to do further damage. Stepanek’s attacking game should foil him a bit and I give the qualifier an edge.
John Millman vs. (8)Paolo Lorenzi
Millman, who reached the semis in Winston-Salem, should defeat the dirtballer Lorenzi, but the veteran journeyman has had a career year and is 4-2 on hard courts in his last six matches. Lorenzi has never been a good hard court player, but he’s suddenly found form on the surface, and Millman should be careful to avoid being tripped up.
(6)Viktor Troicki vs. (WC)Casper Ruud
The 17 year old Ruud hopes to be the player to put Norway on the tennis map. Ruud is a full fledged pro now and won his first challenger in Seville, Spain on clay as a qualifier. He’s 4-2 on outdoor hard courts this year and peaked as the #2 junior in the world. He’ll make his ATP main draw debut against the experienced battler Troicki, who is a favorite in this matchup.
Troicki reached the semis in Winston-Salem and the quarterfinals in St. Petersburg, his good form should see him through to round 2. It will be a learning experience for Ruud, who is worth watching.
Marcos Baghdatis vs. Pablo Carreno Busta
Both players are just inside the ATP’s top 40. Baghdatis is an accomplished hard court player who has put in his years on the ATP tour, while PCB is rapidly improving on the surface. Baghdatis reached the second week of the US Open while PCB took home a hard court title in Winston-Salem. Baghdatis is a slight favorite but I’m going with PCB because he’s been hot since the summer and should continue to rise.
Dominic Thiem reached the final in Metz but fatigue is a real concern for the Austrian, who continues to play a brutal schedule. He’s young, but he’s not super human and he’s already suffered fatigue induced injuries this year. Thiem opens with Konstantin Kravchuk or Di Wu, with the Lu/Stepanek winner likely in the quarters. I have Stepanek surging through to knock off Thiem after he beats Michael Berrer or Albert Ramos. Stepanek is a solid competitor with nothing to lose at this point in his career, and Thiem should be jetlagged. Kravchuk is usually on the challenger tour, and neither Ramos or Berrer are that great right now. Ramos was upset in St. Petersburg.
Grigor Dimitrov will be the favorite in the top half, the Bulgarian faces Dusan Lajovic or a struggling Federico Delbonis first up with Millman likely to follow in the quarters, presuming the Aussie battler defeats Lorenzi and Diego Schwartzman. With this type of draw Dimitrov should reach the semis after making the second week of the US Open in his last outing.
Nick Kyrgios faces Kevin Anderson or his countryman Jordan Thompson. Kyrgios is dangerous when healthy and focused, and he’s 34-13 on the season, having surpassed his 24 wins last season with a few tournaments yet to come. Anderson will be a tough opening match opponent, but Kyrgios is a big server like Anderson, and his superior return game should see him through. Troicki looks to be his likely quarterfinal opponent, after Ruud he’ll face Pablo Carreno Busta or Marcos Baghdatis. Both have shown good recent form, and with Carreno Busta having found a hard court game it won’t be easy for Troicki, but I still see it Kyrgios over Troicki in the quarters.
Feliciano Lopez opens with Juan Monaco in round 2. The Spaniard hasn’t had a great season but I still have him ousting Joao Sousa in the quarters, after Sousa bests Karen Khachanov and Adrian Mannarino or Denis Kudla. This seems like the type of 250 where Mannarino could get hot and reel off some wins, but his form is poor right now and thus Sousa should beat him in round 2.
Dark Horse: Radek Stepanek
A fatigued Thiem in the top portion of the draw sets Stepanek up to make at least the semifinals, and perhaps knock off Dimitrov to reach the finals. His serve and volley game is a true throwback you don’t see much on tour these days and his good recent form means he’ll be the favorite to make at least the quarterfinals.
Dimitrov d. Stepanek
Kyrgios d. Lopez
Dimitrov and Kyrgios seem somewhat destined to reach the final here and that’d be great for the tournament organizers.
Dimitrov d. Kyrgios
Kyrgios is the better player but Dimitrov needs this title more and I feel like he’ll get a much needed boost late in the season with this 250 trophy.