2017 ATP Buenos Aires Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP Golden Swing rolls on with a 250 level stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The South American nation has contributed a lot to the rich landscape of men’s tennis, and now its time to celebrate Argentinian tennis for a week in its capital. Here is your preview, with predictions.
ATP World Tour 250
February 13-19, 2017
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Prize Money: $546,680
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Kei Nishikori (5)
2: Pablo Cuevas (20)
3: David Ferrer (25)
4: Pablo Carreno Busta (26)
The Argentina Open has one top tier star competing against a host of the ATP World Tour’s best dirtballers.
First round matches to watch:
Victor Estrella vs. Thiago Monteiro
36 year old Victor Estrella comes off a third straight Quito title and has started the season in good form, while young Brazilian Thiago Monteiro has lost three straight. The 22 year old is fresher, and no slouch on clay, but Estrella’s grinding should give him an edge in this matchup, as long as he can recover.
Tommy Robredo vs. (7)Fabio Fognini
The h2h between these veterans is split 4-4, but Fognini, a hero in Davis Cup for Italy, is likely the better player in this matchup. Robredo is returning to tour from injury, at Age 34 he’s making his 2017 debut, after focusing on the Challenger tour to recover his ranking and form in 2016. Robredo was once a top clay court player, and he could upset Fognini, but if the Italian hones in he should be able to slap forehand winners on the way to victory.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. (WC)Janko Tipsarevic
This pair have never met on clay, and split hard court meetings 1-1. Dolgopolov has continued his miserable form, he dropped a match to serve and volleyer Rajeev Ram on Quito’s clay. Tipsarevic lost in round 2 of Quito, but still looks to be playing better, and has a great shot at a quality tour win in this one.
Kei Nishikori is 28-7 on clay over the last two seasons, and as the top seed a lot of pressure is on him to perform well in Buenos Aires, where he is playing for the second time in his career. His first match will be against an Argentine, either Diego Schwartzman or Facundo Bagnis. DSS leads Bagnis 3-1 in the h2h, so Nishikori over Schwartzman is the likely path to the quarters for Kei, who has started the season 6-2. Federico Delbonis was 16-8 on clay last year, and has a clear advantage to reach the quarterfinals with wins over a struggling Stephane Robert, and Horacio Zeballos or Joao Sousa. Sousa isn’t quite as good on clay as Delbonis, but Nishikori represents a much stronger challenge. Presuming the Japanese #1 is motivated, Nishikori is the semifinal favorite.
The Fognini/Robredo winner should be favored over a tired Estrella or Monteiro in round 2. In the quarterfinals I have it Fabio Fognini vs. David Ferrer. Ferrer, despite having a poor season last year, and struggling to start this year by his usual standards, was still 15-7 on clay in 2016, is a 3-time champion in BA, and is simply better than Carlos Berlocq or a qualifier. Ferrer is 11-0 against Fognini, with that kind of h2h in his favor, Ferrer should be the semifinalist opposite Nishikori/Delbonis.
Pablo Cuevas and Paolo Lorenzi, the two seeds at the bottom of the draw, are clear favorites to face off in the quarterfinals. Cuevas was 21-8 on clay last year and is better on the surface than the Dolgopolov/Tipsarevic winner he opens with. Lorenzi faces off with Gerald Melzer, Melzer isn’t bad on clay, while Lorenzi just lost a hard fought Quito final. Fatigue could be a factor, but the grinding Italian veteran should reach round 2 to face Renzo Olivo or a qualifier. Olivo is solid on clay as well, and playing on home dirt, but I still think Lorenzi is the better ATP player (3-0 h2h) and will prevail. Cuevas leads Lorenzi 5-0 in the h2h, and should be fresher, making him the semifinal favorite.
Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos look set to create an all-Spanish quarterfinal between sometime doubles partners, presuming PCB defeats a qualifier, and Ramos defeats Guido Pella and the winner of Leonardo Mayer/Gastao Elias. Pella is struggling, while Ramos comes off semis in Quito. Mayer hasn’t played as much on tour recently, but he’ll have home court advantage against Elias, a journeyman Portugese player who has hung around the fringes of ATP main draws for a bit now. PCB picked up a win over Ramos last year, he’s starting his season on clay after going 20-12 last season on the surface. I have PCB facing Cuevas in the semifinals.
Dark Horse: Federico Delbonis
Of the non-seeded players, the streaky Delbonis may be the most dangerous on clay. He’ll have home fans behind him, and Nishikori could falter if he’s not focused in this 250. If Delbonis can slay Nishikori, he has a shot at taking this title at home.
Nishikori d. Ferrer
Carreno Busta d. Cuevas
Nishikori has won six of his last seven matches against Ferrer and has only gotten better since they last met. PCB vs. Cuevas is hard to call, Cuevas leads the h2h 3-2, but PCB may be in slightly better form, I’ll go with the Spaniard, either way we would see a Pablo in the final.
Nishikori d. Carreno Busta
This pair have never met, Nishikori is an elite player though, and although he’s not an elite clay courter, he’s still great on the surface and with his movement and steady groundstrokes, not easy to defeat on this surface. He should outmuscle allcomers and take this 250 title.