Roger Federer made it seven titles in his hometown of Basel, and six titles in 2015 with a 6-3 5-7 6-3 victory over rival Rafael Nadal. The match with Nadal was Federer’s first this season, and he performed well in the opening set, and in the clutch to finish off the Spanish lefty. Nadal got a late break in the second set and played well overall, but on indoor hard courts, the surface and venue favored Federer.
Roger had a pair of tough matches earlier in the week, as he was pushed to the brink against Philipp Kohlschreiber in round 2, and lost a set to David Goffin in the quarterfinals, but routine wins over Mikhail Kukushkin, and in the semis against Jack Sock were masterclass performances in front of appreciative home fans all week. Sock continues his fantastic run of form with another deep run in an ATP tournament and has had a career year overall. The American beat fellow Yanks Denis Kudla, John Isner, and Donald Young to reach the semis.
Rafa completed another fantastic Fall ATP tournament with wins over Lukas Rosol, Grigor Dimitrov, Marin Cilic, and Richard Gasquet in Federer’s backyard. With the exception of the Gasquet match, Nadal had to fight hard to win this week his first three matches going the distance. All three opponents put in serious roadwork, but Rafa performed surprisingly well on indoor hard and showed a spark he hasn’t for most of this season.
Alex Peya and Bruno Soares took home the doubles title over fellow doubles specialists Jamie Murray/John Peers.
Portugal’s #1 Joao Sousa secured a career high ranking of #34 in the world with his second career ATP title a 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over home Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in Valencia. Sousa started slow, but Bautista Agut would begin to run out of energy and see his shots go awry. By the end of the second set it was clear the Portugese man had seized the advantage, and his baseline ball striking was frustrating fellow ball striker RBA.
Sousa caught fire this week with wins over Gilles Muller in 2 sets, Benoit Paire in 3 sets, Pablo Cuevas in 2 sets, and Vasek Pospisil in 2 sets to reach the final. In a small tournament where form matters, Sousa got on track at the right time and his aggressive ball striking helped him prevail. Sousa has reached four 250 level finals this season, with the one title this week.
RBA reached his second final this Fall as he’s found a late season run of form. He beat countryman Nicolas Almagro in 3 sets, Andrey Rublev and Mischa Zverev in straights, and Steve Johnson in three sets, saving multiple match points in the process, to reach the final. Johnson, like his fellow American Jack Sock, has had fantastic fall with deep runs at the ATP level and continues to improve.
Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky defeated Feliciano Lopez and Max Miryni in a battle of veterans to take home the doubles title.
Disaster For Seeded players As Zverev, Brands, Daniel Move Into Valencia Main Draw Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
There were shocks aplenty during the qualifying draw of the Valencia Open as none of the eight seeded players successfully qualified for the main draw of the ATP 250 event, which is headlined by David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez.
World No.54 and top seed Federico Delbonis suffered a heavy defeat in the first round of the draw against Germany’s Mischa Zverev. The Argentine was knocked out 6-2, 6-0 by Zverev after 58 minutes. After crushing the top seed, the German played Spanish world No.453 Mario Vilella Martinez. Martinez, who has won three Futures title this year, produced a more competitive match but still lost in straight sets to Zverev 6-4, 6-3. In the final round, he faced another unseeded player, Japan’s Yuichi Sugita. Sugita recovered from a set and a break down to defeat 7th seed Jan-Lennard Struff in his second round match (2-6, 6-3,6-4). The German continued his impressive form against the Japanese player by winning eight out of the last nine games of the match to seal his place in the main draw, winning 6-4, 6-1. Valencia is the fourth consecutive tournament where Zverev has successfully qualified for the main draw.
Joining Zverev will be fellow countryman Daniel Brands, who upset two seeded players to reach his first ATP main draw for 12 months. The German is currently ranked 170th in the world and has won two titles this year, one Challenger and one Future tournament. After dropping two games in his opening match against Spanish wild card Bernabe Zapata Miralles, he faced third seed Thanasi Kokkinakis. The 19-year-old Australian was blown away by Brands as the German unexpectedly took the match with little difficulty 6-3, 6-1. Kokkinakis is the highest ranked player Brands has beaten on the ATP World Tour since David Ferrer in the second round of the 2014 Qatar Open. The 28-year-old was able to back up the impressive scalp by defeating 8th seed Albert Montanes in the final round 6-3, 6-2 to progress to the main draw.
Poland’s Michal Przysiezny qualified for his second ATP main draw of the year without dropping a set. The world No.167 was given an easier route into the main draw when the only seeded player in his section, America’s Rajeev Ram, lost in the second round to Frenchman Quentin Halys. Przysiezny defeated two Spanish players (Javier Marti and Carlos Taberner) in straight sets during his first two rounds to set up a showdown with Hayls. The 19-year-old was tough competition for the Polish player during the first set as Przysiezny successfully fended off four out of five break points to claim the set after coming through a close tie-break. After claiming the crucial opening tiebreaker, the Pole eased himself to win 7-6 (6), 6-2, after 83 minutes on the court.
Completing the quartet of qualifiers is Japan’s Taro Daniel. The 22-year-old is currently ranked 120th in the world (12 places below his career best) and has won two Challenger titles this year. During his first two matches Daniel dropped only three games. In his first round he lead Laslo Djere 6-0,4-0, before the Serbian retired and then defeated Spain’s Marc Giner 6-0, 6-3. In the final he faced Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos, who defeated 6th seed Íñigo Cervantes in the first round. Despite trailing in the early part of both sets, Daniel battled back to edge past Gombos 6-4, 6-3.
Despite losing in the final round, Gombos will play in the final after being awarded a lucky loser spot.
First round matches
Q Daniel Brands – Nick Kyrgios – First meeting
Q Taro Daniel – Q Michal Przysiezny – First meeting
Q Mischa Zverev – Thomaz Bellucci – Bellucci has beaten Zverev back in 2012 in the first round of qualifying at the ATP Nice Open.
LL Norbert Gombos – Benoit Paire – Second meeting of 2015. Gombos beat Paire in straight sets in the final of the ATP Cherbourg Challenger.
2015 ATP Basel and Valencia Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Two weeks are left in the 2015 ATP Season as the tour stops for a 500 level tournament in Basel, and a 250 level tournament in Valencia, both on indoor hard courts.
Swiss Indoors Basel
ATP World Tour 500
October 26-November 1, 2015
Prize Money: €1,575,295
Top 8 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Roger Federer (3)
2: Stan Wawrinka (4)
3: Rafael Nadal (7)
4: Kevin Anderson (12)
5: Richard Gasquet (11)
6: John Isner (14)
7: Marin Cilic (13)
8: David Goffin (17)
A host of top 20 players invade Basel as the final ATP 500 of the season boast a top notch field for a 500 level tournament. Basel has gone above and beyond the home heroes Federer and Wawrinka in terms of attracting tennis talent.
First round matchups to watch:
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (Q)Jerzy Janowicz
Janowicz came through qualifying and is 8-3 in his last three indoor hard court tournaments, he also a h2h indoor hard court win over the veteran Kohlschreiber. Peppo is 7-2 in his own right since the US Open though and has posted two ATP semifinal showings this Fall. Big hitting will collide with quality ball striking and with both players in good form it should be a high quality contest. I see Kohlschreiber surviving this early test.
(4)Kevin Anderson vs. Borna Coric
Anderson rolled past the young gun Coric in Winston-Salem this year but the Croatian is returning to the scene of one of his best ever wins, as he beat Rafael Nadal in a shocker here last year. Anderson has two ATP quarterfinals this fall and continues to play some great fast surface tennis. Coric is just 1-3 in his last four matches and could badly use a confidence boosting win. This one should be closer than expected but Anderson should serve too well for Coric to notch an upset.
(6)John Isner vs. Ernests Gulbis
Ernests Gulbis has plenty of talent but he’s endured yet another awful and disappointing season.With that said, things may be turning around for the Latvian #1, as he reached his first ATP semifinal of the season in Vienna and snapped a long losing streak. Isner lost to Gulbis in Vienna last week and he’s looking to avenge that three set defeat with methodical serving. Given his 2-1 overall h2h on hard courts and Gulbis lack of consistency I look for the American #1 to avoid getting upset again.
(2)Stan Wawrinka vs. Ivo Karlovic
Home hero Stan Wawrinka needed a third set tiebreak to get past the big serving Ivo Karlovic in Cincy this year, but he leads the overall h2h 5-1 and he’ll have the crowd behind him for this tricky opening round match. Nobody likes to play Karlovic given how well he serves and he does have two ATP quarterfinals this Fall. With that said, Wawrinka’s form and motivation should be good enough to win a tiebreak or two and advance.
Six time Basel champion Roger Federer always plays well at his home tournament and has been fantastic this season when not facing the top 3 (excluding his shocking early loss in Shanghai to Albert Ramos). Federer could have an interesting round 2 match against the Kohlschreiber/Janowicz winner, but otherwise I look for him to get through to the semifinals unscathed. Federer is 2-0 against his round 1 opponent Mikhail Kukushkin, a journeyman, and 10-0 in the h2h against Kohli, though the German has tested him this season. In the quarterfinals the Swiss Maestro is likely to face David Goffin, his understudy. Goffin isn’t in great form but he opens with a struggling Andreas Seppi, and then either Viktor Troicki, or more likely qualifier Adrian Mannarino, both of whom are struggling as well. Federer is 2-0 against Goffin and they met in the final of Basel last year.
Anderson and Isner should be on a collision course to meet in the quarterfinals, if young talents with firepower don’t derail them. After Coric, Anderson will face either Henri Laaksonen or Donald Young and he should roll through that one given his superior talent and form. Isner has a more difficult test with Stockholm finalist Jack Sock likely to await him in round 2. Sock will need to beat fellow American Denis Kudla first, and Isner of course has to beat Gulbis. Kudla has won the past three meetings against Sock, even though Jack has surpassed him in terms of ranking and career accomplishments. Sock has an ATP quarterfinal and his second career ATP final already on his resume this Fall and is in the midst of a career year. Given the fact he played in both the singles and doubles finals in Stockholm, Kudla upsetting a tired Sock wouldn’t surprise me, and I give Isner an edge to get past Sock regardless (4-1 h2h).
Isner has won the last five meetings against Anderson and though it should be a tight quarterfinal contest, I give the American #1 the edge to survive in tiebreaks and reach the semifinals.
Stan Wawrinka has never reached the finals in Basel and his draw doesn’t get any easier after Karlovic as the dangerous shotmaker Alexandr Dolgopolov should await him in round 2. Dolgo faces qualifier Dusan Lajovic and is likely to snap a five match losing streak since reaching the Cincy Masters semis this summer. Dolgo has a 2-1 h2h edge over Wawrinka, who can get erratic at times and play well below his ranaking (while Dolgo can play like a top 10 player). With that said, given the Ukrainians poor form as of late I favor Wawrinka (or Karlovic) to reach the quarters. There, Stockholm semifinalist Richard Gasquet should be waiting and he may well be the favorite to reach the semifinals after going through a path of Jiri Vesely and most likely Dominic Thiem in rounds 1 and 2. Thiem has hit the skids since reaching the semis in St. Petersburg and faces qualifier Robin Haase first up. Both Gasquet and Thiem have very technically sound games and it should be a must-see match in round 2 if they meet.
I look for Gasquet to continue his good form and oust the Tokyo champion Wawrinka at home. once more denying him a shot at the Basel trophy. Gasquet beat Wawrinka on grass this year at Wimbledon and each player features an elite backhand.
Rafael Nadal got a relatively benign path to the quarterfinals, The Spaniard, who is 7-2 since the US Open with an ATP final and semifinal on hard courts, opens with Lukas Rosol first up. Rosol famously shocked him at Wimbledon, but he’s failed to repeat that type of result on a consistent basis, and though he comes off the quarterfinals in Vienna I don’t see lighting striking twice. A seemingly healthy Nadal badly needs late season points to boost his ranking and should give it his all after another rough season by his standards. Grigor Dimitrov, a quarterfinalist in both Stockholm and Kuala Lumpur, is another player with the talent to trouble, and in fact, oust Nadal, but given his flat season and recent form, I don’t see that happening. Dimitrov, who is now working with Franco Davin as his coach, played better in Stockholm last week but is still playing well below his abilities. Nadal is 6-0 in the h2h against Dimitrov, who opens with Sergiy Stakhovsky round 1.
Marin Cilic has been on fire since the US Open and he was given perhaps the easiest path to the quarterfinals of any of the seeds. The Moscow champion is 10-3 this Fall and is finally back playing near to the level he was at when he won the US Open title, before he suffered an injury that messed up the first half of his 2015 season. Cilic is playing above his current ranking and should blitz Marco Chiudinelli and Moscow quarterfinalist Teymuraz Gabashvili (who opens with a struggling Leonardo Mayer) in his first two matches. Fatigue could play a factor in his performance, but he has such an easy early path that I see him getting through.
On a hard court Cilic has the game to give Nadal fits, but with both players in good form, I give Rafa an edge due to the fact he should be fresher for their match, either way it’s an interesting section.
Dark Horse Ivo Karlovic
Jack Sock is likely too gassed to make a run in this one, so I’m going with Karlovic as my dark horse this week. All it takes is Dr. Ivo winning a couple of tiebreaks and he could slip past Wawrinka and bust the bottom half of the draw wide open. At 36 he’s a remarkable 36-23 on the season with an ATP title, an ATP final, and a handful of ATP semifinals as well. Karlovic has already beaten Tomas Berdych, Novak Djokovic, and Milos Raonic this season, and he’s looking to add Wawrinka (and possibly Gasquet’s) name to that list.
Semis: Federer d. Isner
Nadal d. Gasquet
You can’t really predict Federer not to reach the final here no matter what happens with the other section. The tournament organizers surely want a Federer vs. Nadal final, and I feel they are going to get it this time. Presuming Wawrinka goes out, Rafa (or Cilic) have a big edge to make the final. Gasquet has a famous mental block against Rafa.
Final: Federer d. Nadal
Nadal has a matchup edge with Fed generally speaking, but indoors and with Federer in much better form this season the Swiss should take his seventh Basel trophy.
ATP World Tour 250
October 26-November 1, 2015
Prize Money: €537,050
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: David Ferrer (8)
2: Feliciano Lopez (16)
3: Bernard Tomic (18)
4: Fabio Fognini (22)
Basel is understandably much stronger this week but Valencia has still gathered some fan favorites and three top 20 players.
First round matchups to watch:
Joao Sousa vs. Gilles Muller
Joao Sousa has lost three straight but he did reach the final in St. Petersburg and he’s at his best in these indoor hard court 250s where he often gets on a hot streak and rides it to a final. The Portugese ballstriker will go up with the consistent serve and volleyer Gilles Muller. You know what you’re going to get with Muller, but he’s had a fantastic season and has two ATP quarterfinals and a semifinal on his resume this fall (7-3 record). You never know with Sousa, but Muller should continue to serve well and volley crisply for a win.
(7)Roberto Bautista Agut vs. (WC)Nicolas Almagro
Fan favorite Spaniard Nico Almagro is trying his best to return to the ATP level after injuries, while his countryman Roberto Bautista Agut looks to continue the energy from his best result of the season in Moscow, where he reached the final last week. Almagro won a round in Stockholm last week and RBA could be feeling fatigued, making this match worth watching, but more than likely RBA will be too consistent and advance.
Steve Johnson vs. Martin Klizan
Steve Johnson is nearly into the top 30 now and he’s in the midst of a career year o nthe ATP World Tour. Johnson is favored in this match after reaching his first ever ATP final in Vienna, and he’ll try to follow up that run with a solid win over the power hitter Klizan, who posted a semifinal in Metz not long ago. Klizan is very inconsistent but when he’s at his best it’s hard to deal with his powerful ground strokes. Johnson should be favored but I’m not certain he’ll win this.
David Ferrer is a three time champion in Valencia and he badly wants to clinch his ATP World Tour finals spot at home. The Spanish veteran is 50-12 this season and just captured his fifth title this year in Vienna. He also has a title in Kuala Lumpur this Fall and he’s tearing up the indoor hard court circuit. Nick Kyrgios, a semifinalist in Kuala Lumpur, and a quarterfinalist in Tokyo, will do his best to stop him, presuming Kyrgios beats a qualifier in round 1. That should be a difficult test for a possibly fatigued Ferrer, and Kyrgios has the firepower to win it, but Ferrer’s fight and consistent groundstrokes should help him advance.
Look for Jeremy Chardy or Vasek Pospisil to fall victim to that trademark Ferrer fight in the quarterfinals. Pospisil opens with a struggling Santiago Giraldo while Chardy faces Aljaz Bedene. They both should win those matches, and Chardy has been in better form (reached the quarters in Stockholm) thus I have him beating Pospisil. Though to his credit, the Canadian has had tough draws recently. Ferrer is 7-2 against Chardy in the h2h but Chardy shocked him at the US Open this year when Ferrer wasn’t 100% healthy. Ferru will get his revenge and reach the semis this week.
Shanghai quarterfinalist Bernard Tomic lost early in Stockholm but he should be a near lock for the quarterfinals this week, with only Pablo Cuevas/Pablo Carreno Busta in his way. Tomic is inconsistent and that’s something either Muller/Sousa or Benoit Paire should take advantage of. Paire opens with a qualifier and has been playing with renewed passion this season. The Frenchman has a challenger and an ATP final since reaching the second week of the US Open. With that said, he could well be fatigued from those runs. I have Muller beating Sousa, Paire, and the junkballer Tomic to reach the semifinals as a dark horse. The conditions in Valencia should suit his game.
Feliciano Lopez has a terrible record in Valencia and he could well go down in defeat once more at the hands of Johnson/Klizan. The 34 year old has an ATP final this Fall in Kuala Lumpur, but his poor record here has me favoring Klizan to sneak into the quarterfinals thanks to a lucky draw, even though it looks harsh. Fernando Verdasco also has a good draw, needing only to beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (6-2 h2h) and a qualifier to reach the quarterfinals. GGL did reach the Shenzen final but both Spaniards could badly use a positive result right now as they are struggling. Verdasco beat Klizan at Wimbledon this year, but the Spaniard is in the midst of his career decline and Klizan should find a way to dark himself to a win.
Beijing semifinalist and Vienna quarterfinalist Fabio Fognini seems to have found that rare moment of consistent top 20 play, and he’s not going to want to share that bliss with either a qualifier or the struggling Thomaz Bellucci in round 2. Fognini should make it to consecutive ATP quarterfinals, and he’ll have a great shot to knock off fellow ball striker RBA in the quarters (5-2 h2h). RBA faces Marcel Granollers/Andrey Rublev in round 2, presuming he defeats Almagro.
Dark Horse: Gilles Muller
If Muller plays within himself and relies on his trademark style he should at least draw some crowds, and at the best manufacture a late career masterpiece and find a way to win an ATP title in Valencia. Like Karlovic, Muller’s serve and volleying leaves little room for error, and he faces a beatable field if he’s allowed to do things his way.
Ferrer d. Muller
Fognini d. Klizan
Fognini is the stronger player in his section, and he’s faced Klizan in big matches before. Ferrer tends to play well against serve and volleyers.
Ferrer d. Fognini
Look for Fognini to catch fire and beat down anyone in his path, that is except for Ferrer, who strikes the ball well and should be able to challenge everything Fognini does well. The Spaniard is motivated and that has to be part of the equation when it comes to taking the title. Ferrer jut got past Fognini indoors in Vienna.
Murray Wins 2nd Consecutive ATP Title in Valencia, Federer Owns Basel
Andy Murray beat Tommy Robredo in another incredible ATP final as he saved five match points to take the title in Valencia 3-6 7-6 7-6. Murray had saved match points to defeat Robredo in Shenzen last month, in what was his first title of the year, and now including the title he captured the week prior in Vienna, he has three on the season, all but securing his spot in the World Tour finals with an impeccable run of play this fall.
Murray played poorly in the first set, but recovered some momentum to force a second set tiebreak, even after surrendering a break lead in the second set, and he saved two match points in that second set tiebreak before capturing it 9-7. In the third set, Murray recovered from going a break down to force a tiebreak and he saved three match points before smacking a quality backhand passing shot to seal the victory. Yet again, Robredo was denied from a big win in an ATP final.
As expected, Murray cruised through Jurgen Melzer and Fabio Fognini, then beat Kevin Anderson in 3 sets and David Ferrer for the second week in a row, this time in straight sets, to reach the final.
Robredo upset John Isner, then rolled past Rendy Lu, Pablo Andujar and Jeremy Chardy, a much easier road, without dropping a set to reach the final. His second in two months and his third this season, he is 0-3 this year in ATP finals.
Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau defeated Anderson and Chardy in the doubles final. Rojer and Tecau have won seven ATP titles this year together with at least one on every surface.
Roger Federer won his sixth title in Basel, as predicted, over young admirer David Goffin. Fed dominated from the start and comfortably won 6-2 6-2 for his twelfth straight match win.
Federer crushed Gilles Muller in straights, got past Denis Istomin in 3 sets, beat Grigor Dimitrov in straights and Ivo Karlovic in 3 sets to reach the final. He had a few hiccups this week but nothing more, as things always seemed comfortable for the Swiss playing in his hometown tournament.
Goffin stretched his winning streak out against Dominic Thiem, Ivan Dodig, Milos Raonic, and teenager Borna Coric, who has now reached the top 100 before the age 18 by virtue of reaching the semifinals in Basel. Goffin beat Raonic and Coric in 3 sets and was likely fatigued before going up against Federer.
Coric shocked a clearly injured Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and also upset a likely injured Ernests Gulbis in round 1. He showed clutch play and mettle in those matches, even with his opponents paying well below 100%. 2015 should be a promising year for the young Croat, as he transitions to a more active role on the ATP tour and prepares to play more Grand Slam tennis.
Vasek Pospisil and Nenad Zimonjic beat Marin Draganja and Henri Kontinen in the doubles final. Pospisil has won 3 doubles titles this year, and reached two doubles finals in what has been a breakthrough year for him on the doubles circuit.
2014 ATP Basel, Valencia Previews & Picks By Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The ATP 500 series of tournaments will conclude for the year with a pair of indoor hard court tournaments in Switzerland and Spain as the fight for ranking points, prize money and the final two World Tour Final Spots continues. Both tournaments offer very enticing entry lists and possible matchups.
Swiss Indoors Basel
ATP World Tour 500
October 20-October 26, 2014
Prize Money: € 1,458,610
Top 8 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Roger Federer (2)
2: Rafael Nadal (3)
3: Stan Wawrinka (4)
4: Milos Raonic (9)
5: Grigor Dimitrov (11)
6: Ernests Gulbis (13)
7: David Goffin (28)
8: Ivo Karlovic (30)
Basel boasts 3 of the top 5, 4 of the top 10, and 6 of the top 20 ATP players in the field this week, it’s a stellar field for a 500 level event.
First Round matchups to watch:
Jarkko Nieminen vs. Vasek Pospisil
A former finalist in Basel, Nieminen is likely to have trouble getting out of the first round this year because his opponent is the in-form Vasek Pospisil. It’s a battle between a young power baseliner and a speedy, defensively adept, veteran shotmaker. Nemo and Vashy have never met before and neither are playing poorly at the moment. In an unseeded contest that I see going to 3 sets, Pospisil should survive.
(3)Stan Wawrinka vs. Mikhail Kukushkin
Stan the Man is a home favorite and one of the stars headlining Basel, but he will need to be on upset alert against the in-form Kukushkin. Kuku reached the semifinals in Moscow and pushed top 10 player Marin Cilic to 3 sets. He also has wins over solid ATP competitors Tommy Robredo, Kevin Anderson, Fabio Fognini and Mikhail Youzhny in recent weeks, and he pushed Novak Djokovic to 3 sets in Shanghai. He may be a bit fatigued, but Wawrinka is entering Basel on a 3 match losing streak. I doubt motivation will be an issue for him as a home player, but if Kuku can provide some pressure against Stan here, he may well fold up shop early.
(7)David Goffin vs. Dominic Thiem
Goffin has already beaten Thiem three times this season on three different surfaces, and he is currently on a 10 match winning streak. Thiem, by contrast, has lost 4 of his last 5 matches, including most recently in the first round of Vienna. That said, Thiem is still a rising young gun with a lot of talent and two of the three previous head-to-head meetings went to a decisive third set. Goffin is a player on a tear right now, and should win this contest against a competitive opponent.
(6)Ernests Gulbis vs. Borna Coric
Another seed who should be on upset alert: Gulbis made the semis in Moscow, but his shoulder injury continues to be suspect, and it will be a quick turnaround physically for him in Basel. Coric is a driven, hungry, young player who is looking for marquee wins to make a name for himself, and taking out a top player like Gulbis would be huge for his confidence. The teenager is on a two match losing streak and he hasn’t exactly been winning a lot of matches against top competition, but with Gulbis being in suspect physical condition, anything is possible.
(2)Rafael Nadal vs. (Q)Simone Bolelli
It befuddles me why Rafa is still playing right now. He needs appendix surgery and has opted to put it off until the end of the year. Perhaps he really wants the appearance fee he will make for playing Basel. All that said, he is clearly in precarious physical condition, and he lost to Feliciano Lopez in Shanghai, his last match. Feli is an opponent he has dominated before, and I believe if Bolelli can put up any sort of competitive resistance, Nadal may be weakened enough for him to win this. Nadal has a 3-0 lead in the h2h, but Bolelli did grab a set off the Spaniard indoors in Rotterdam, and though it’s an iffy pick I have Bolelli winning this one, having come through the qualifying rounds with a pair of wins. Bolelli is a feisty enough player to not be intimidated by Nadal, and he has talent, so it seems like a reasonable pick.
Roger Federer begins his quest for a sixth title in Basel against Gilles Muller, who will likely give him a test but I do not see much upset potential there given how well Federer played in Shanghai, and the fact he leads the h2h 4-0. Denis Istomin or Jerzy Janowicz awaits the world number 2 in the second round. Both can be dangerous at times, but Fed is 5-0 against Istomin and has a h2h win over Janowicz on clay, so again he should advance into the quarterfinals.
Look for another Federer vs. Grigor Dimitrov match in Basel, this time in the quarterfinals. The Stockholm finalist opens with the young gun Alex Zverev, who is not as skilled indoors as he is on clay, and then will get the Pospisil/Nieminen winner. Vashy or Nemo could test a possibly fatigued Dimitrov, but I’m going to stick with the favorite through to the quarters. After that, it’s Federer over Baby Fed given it’s Basel, and Dimitrov would have put in a lot of matches in consecutive weeks by that point.
The Wawrinka/Kukushkin winner is likely to face Benjamin Becker in round 2, assuming the veteran German defeats qualifier Gastao Elias. Becker comes off quarters in Vienna and like Kukushkin, he is playing well. I see Becker beating Wawrinka if he emerges from that round 1 match with Kukushkin, and a Becker-Kuku match is a toss-up for me, giving a very slight edge to Becker, who I have making another quarterfinal this week. He made the quarters in Kuala Lumpur and the semis in Tokyo this Fall as well.
A weak quarter of the draw exists below the Wawrinka section, headlined by 8 seed Ivo Karlovic, who opens with a struggling Lukas Rosol. Karlovic comes off quarters in Vienna, while Rosol has lost four of his last five matches. Karlovic should be favored to reach the quarters, because his round 2 opponent will be either Federico Delbonis or Kenny De Schepper, a qualifier. De Schepper is in many ways a poor man’s Karlovic, relying almost exclusively on his powerful serve, but less effectively, and Delbonis was just defeated by Karlovic in Vienna. The Argentine clay courter has not proven himself to be a viable competitor indoors. Becker/Kukushkin should topple Karlovic to reach the semifinals, though Ivo has a 6-1 h2h edge over Becker. Becker beat him this year in Cincy, and I feel form favors him to advance.
The Nadal/Bolelli winner will face qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Edouard Roger-Vasselin. ERV is saddled with a five match losing streak at the moment and he’s been poorly for a while. Herbert, on the other hand, has done very well in the fall indoor events in Europe even while having to play the qualifying rounds. He qualified here in Basel and in Stockholm, where he won a match. If Bolelli gets through, I’d put Herbert into the quarterfinals by virtue of the fact he’s at his best indoors and mainly has struggled to live up to his potential throughout his career thus far.
If Nadal is notably weakened and loses early, this section will open up for the Coric/Gulbis winner, given Teymuraz Gabashvili, and Andrey Golubev, their possible round 2 opponents, are far from imposing. I have Gulbis into the quarterfinals, and then defeating Herbert just given the ranking discrepancy, but this is an incredibly hard section to predict and I could see it breaking a multitude of ways. Coric, Bolelli and of course Nadal could all make cases for why they should be the semifinalist in this section of the draw. It’s a shaky toss-up section and quarter based upon the health of Gulbis and Nadal, and the form of Herbert, Coric and Bolelli.
Goffin/Thiem will be in the drivers seat in the section above Gulbis. The winner of that match is likely to face Ivan Dodig, assuming he dispatches Marco Chiudinelli, and either Goffin or Thiem should be favored to reach the quarterfinals over the inconsistent Dodig, who can play really well at times, but then quite poorly in his next match. Look for Goffin to reach the quarterfinals here and continue his winning streak.
Milos Raonic lost his first match in Moscow, but he was likely still recovering from being ill, and he ought to be in good enough condition to beat Steve Johnson and Carlos Berlocq/Donald Young to reach the quarters. Johnson has a dark horse chance at being a quarterfinalist if Raonic is not up to par, but Raonic has a h2h edge. Given how well Goffin has played since Wimbledon, I have him in the semis over Raonic. Raonic is one of the four players left competing for the final two World Tour Final Spots. He’s on the outside looking in, though and he is the only one of the four (Berdych, Murray, and Ferrer) who is playing Basel this week, losing early in Moscow while Murray, Berdych and Ferrer all gained ground with a pair of titles and a final respectively, really hurting the Canadian’s chances.
Dark Horse: Benjamin Becker
It is quite possible that two non-seeds will reach the semifinals, and Becker is my pick to be one of them. The German has been consistent this fall and he plays well indoors on quicker surfaces. His late career resurgence should set him on a path to the semifinals to face Federer, who he is very unlikely to defeat.
Federer d. Becker
Goffin d. Gulbis
Fed and Goffin have to be favorites this week, unless Nadal, Dimitrov, Raonic or others like Becker, Pospisil or Kukushkin can exceed expectations and rise to the occasion. Both have been two of the most consistent performers this fall and they would be well-deserved to make the final.
Federer d. Goffin
It’s hard to pick against Federer in Basel. Goffin might be playing out his socks right now but Fed is a whole different level and he is also playing well right now.
Chris De Waard’s picks
Federer d. Kukushkin
Nadal d. Goffin
Nadal d. Federer
Valencia Open 500
ATP World Tour 500
October 20-October 26, 2014
Prize Money: € 1,496,095
Top 8 seeds (ATP Ranking in parentheses)
1: David Ferrer (5)
2: Tomas Berdych (7)
3: Andy Murray (10)
4: Feliciano Lopez (14)
5: John Isner (15)
6: Roberto Bautista Agut (16)
7: Kevin Anderson (17)
8: Gilles Simon (18)
Valencia has three of the current top 10, and all of the tournament seeds are top 20 players. This tournament is not as star-studded as Basel, but it is more balanced and competitive.
First Round matchups to watch:
Mikhail Youzhny vs. (Q)Thomas Bellucci
The defending champion, who also has another final in Valencia on his resume, is in danger of failing to advance out of the first round against an in-form Bellucci. Normally known for his prowess on clay, the veteran Brazilian has surprisingly found some late season form indoors and he has now won four of his last five matches, including a quality three set win over Feliciano Lopez in Vienna, where he made the quarterfinals. Youzhny was likewise a quarterfinalist in Moscow but he has had few impressive wins this season and didn’t have a difficult path to the quarters. Youzhny is 2-0 against Bellucci on hard courts in his career, but I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Bellucci to get an upset win over the seemingly fading Russian in a battle of the veterans.
(6)Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Santiago Giraldo
RBA, a finalist in Moscow, should be a heavy favorite over Giraldo, who has lost three straight matches. That said, both players are gifted shotmakers with strong forehands, and they tend to play well in a streaky manner. Both have had career years in many respects and I expect this to be an entertaining and underrated encounter, even if RBA gets through comfortably.
(8)Gilles Simon vs. Alex Dolgopolov
Simon is 8-3 since the US Open, and he of course made the Masters final in Shanghai, where he lost to Federer in a pair of tiebreaks. After struggling all season, the Frenchman has suddenly found a run of excellent play. Dolgo, by contrast, had a hot start to his season but since injuring his knee he has lost 3 straight matches to equal or inferior opponents in terms of talent and ranking, most recently to Adrian Mannarino in Stockholm. This has the potential to be a fantastic match because both guys bring a lot to the table, and the defensive grinding of Simon contrasts with the quick aggressive play of Dolgopolov. Dolgo leads the h2h, all on hard courts, 2-1, but Simon is playing much better right now and should advance, evening up the h2h in the process.
Hometown hero David Ferrer, who has won his local ATP tournament 3 times previously, opens with the veteran Italian Andreas Seppi in round 1. Ferrer played well and reached the final in Vienna last week, keeping up with his fellow competitors for one of the final two World Tour Finals spots. Assuming Ferrer doesn’t suffer another shockingly underwhelming result, he should get into round 2 to face his countryman Fernando Verdasco, who will take on Leo Mayer in round 1. Verdasco made the quarters in Stockholm and the two Spaniards have had contrasting careers of over and underachievement in many respects. Ferrer is 4-1 on hard court in his career against Verdasco and with the World Tour Finals and hometown pride at stake, he should reach the quarterfinals with RBA/Giraldo or Youzhny/Bellucci awaiting him. Assuming RBA is not overly fatigued, he is most likely to reach the quarters. Ferrer is 2-0 career against RBA, and I’d give him a very slight edge to reach the semis, though RBA has a case as well and it’s not cut and dried.
Shenzen and Vienna champ Andy Murray will open with a slumping Jurgen Melzer. Melzer is still capable of good tennis, but I don’t see him troubling Murray currently, given how well the Scot is playing this fall. Murray should also crush Albert Ramos or a tanking Fabio Fognini without any trouble as he pursues one of the final two World Tour Final spots available. The former Valencia champ could find himself in the quarters against Philipp Kohlschreiber, a semifinalist in Vienna. Kohli opens with a struggling Kevin Anderson, who appears ready for the season to be over, and then should face Martin Klizan in round 2, assuming Klizan defeats young American wild card Stefan Kozlov. Klizan pulled out of Vienna, but he was, of course, a semifinalist In Beijing, where he beat Nadal and Gulbis, and he could make a streaky run in Valencia as well. I’ll go out on a limb with my own bracket and put Klizan into the quarters over Kohlschreiber, but falling to Murray at that stage.
Stockholm champ Tomas Berdych, who has been playing very well this fall, should roll past Pablo Andujar and Joao Sousa/Dusan Lajovic before colliding with John Isner/Tommy Robredo in the quarters. Robredo made the quarters in Moscow, but Isner is 3-0 career against him, including 2-0 on hard courts, so he should be favored to win that round 1 battle. Isner/Robredo will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Rendy Lu in round 2, both streaky players who are unlikely to put up much resistance. Berdych has won his last four meetings against Isner, including most recently in the Beijing quarterfinals. The Czech tends to do everything the American does as a strength, only better, and with more variety to his game. Look for Berdych to make another semifinal or better this week.
Feliciano Lopez was upset in Vienna, but he should get past round 1 on home soil against qualifier Norbert Gombos, and I’d also favor him over one of his countryman in round 2. Pablo Carreno Busta or Marcel Granollers. That said, Gilles Simon should be able to roll to the semifinals if he can defeat Dolgopolov, Jeremy Chardy or qualifier Malek Jaziri, who might put up some resistance, but Simon should be in the right form right now to get himself to the semis.
Dark Horse: Martin Klizan
Klizan seems to the non-seeded player who is in the right kind of form to make noise while having a good spot in the draw. If the Slovak can get past Kohli/Anderson in round 2, he would almost assuredly face Murray, who appears to be a very tough out right now, but he’s still more beatable than he’s been on previous occasions. I don’t see Klizan getting past the quarters, but the possibly is there if something goes wrong with Murray.
Murray d. Ferrer
Simon d. Berdych
Murray just beat Ferrer in Vienna. It was a close match, but still the result is likely to be the same a week later. Simon likewise just defeated Berdych recently in Shanghai and he’s 2-1 on indoor hard against the Czech in what has been a pretty even h2h history. Simon should be fresher than Berdych and that is why I give him the edge.
Murray d. Simon
Murray won a great 3 setter with Simon in Acapulco this year when both players were struggling to find their form. He’s totally dominated the h2h with the Frenchman, including a 7-0 record on hard courts because he’s a superior counterpuncher and returner compared to Simon, and has more weapons than the Frenchman when it gets down to it. Murray wants to play in front of the home crowd in London at the World Tour Finals and a title in Valencia would go a long way towards clinching him a spot.
Del Potro Defends Basel, Youzhny Caps Off Career Year In Valencia
Juan Martin Del Potro continued his utter domination of 500 level events and defended his Basel title with a 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Roger Federer in a rematch of last years final.
Del Potro has claimed three other 500 titles this year and is an amazing 23-1 in 500 events this year.
Del Potro started sharp though Federer also played well, and he needed a tiebreak to take the first set after failing to serve it out. In set 2, Federer continued playing some of his best tennis this year and roared into a 3rd set with ease. But Del Potro would have that extra gear that would propel him to victory in the end.
By virtue of making the final, Federer has almost assuredly qualified for the World Tour finals, and he did so in style at home beating Adrian Mannarino, Denis Istomin in 3 sets, Grigor Dimitrov in straights and Vasek Pospisil in a close 3 setter. Pospisil breaks into the top 50 with another deep run in an ATP event.
Del Potro beat Henri Laaksonen, Marcos Baghdatis and Paul-Henri Mathieu, all in straights, and then needed 3 ugly sets to dispatch Edouard Roger-Vasselin. ERV was a surprise semifinalist and he has also had a good year of tennis, upsetting Stan Wawrinka in round 1.
Treat Huey/Dominic Inglot are the doubles champions. They toppled Julian Knowle/Olivier Marach in the final.
Mikhail Youzhny soars back into the top 15 after a great year of tennis, and he captured his second ATP title of the year in his third final of the year, 6-3, 7-5 over David Ferrer. Youzhny beat Bernard Tomic, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Jarkko Nieminen (in 3 sets) and Dmitry Tursunov en route to the final.
Ferrer showed renewed form but lost his second straight ATP final. He beat Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau, Jerzy Janowicz, and Nicolas Almagro on the way to that final. The Spaniard is now just 2-6 in ATP finals this year and his level has clearly dropped.
Alex Peya and Bruno Soares, the number 2 doubles team in the world, beat the number 1 doubles team, the Bryans, and saved four match points in the process to take the title in Valencia. They have 5 titles together this year and retained their Valencia title from last year.
2013 ATP Valencia, Basel Previews and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The final three weeks of the ATP season are upon us, and two of the last three full field events are this week, both indoors in Europe, World Tour Final spots are still up for grabs and both events are worth 500 points, meaning there is still much to play for.
Valencia Open 500
ATP World Tour 500
October 21-October 27, 2013
Prize Money: € 1,496,095
Top 8 seeds
1: David Ferrer
2: Tommy Haas
3: Nicolas Almagro
4: John Isner
5: Jerzy Janowicz
6: Gilles Simon
7: Fabio Fognini
8: Kevin Anderson
First round Matchups to watch:
(1)David Ferrer vs. Gael Monfils
Stockholm finalist Ferrer will seek to defend his title in Valencia and though he did make the final in Stockholm, his form is well below its normal level. Monfils, meanwhile, was shocked by veteran journeyman Jaroslav Pospisil in the first round of Vienna and his inconsistent play continues.
This could either be a thrilling match or a blowout, and a lot of that depends on Monfils, who could pull off the upset or could get double bageled. The h2h is 3-1 in favor of the Frenchman, though Ferrer demolished Monfils at the beginning of this year on hard courts.
(8)Kevin Anderson vs (WC)Roberto Bautista Agut
Kevin Anderson is seeded here, but he is dragging his way into Valencia on fumes, not having won consecutive matches at any tournament since the summer. RBA is playing at home in Spain and has gotten a bit of time off to refocus his game and try to make a run here. Given the bad form of Anderson at the moment, the upset seems to be in play.
(4)John Isner vs. Ernests Gulbis
Gulbis is 2-0 career against Isner. They have never met on a hard court surface, and the Latavian comes off semifinals in Stockholm, where he got 3 good wins but suffered a tough loss with the lead against David Ferrer. Isner lost somewhat early in both Beijing and Shanghai, and will be playing what should be his second to last tournament of the year. This match could also go either way, but I think Gulbis will pull off the slight upset over the American.
Jarkko Nieminen vs. Benoit Paire
An interesting matchup of players who tend to have good results indoors, the road runner Nieminen and the mercurial Paire will face off. Paire comes off semis in Stockholm but his form is always unpredictable, while Nieminen is mainly treading water at the moment. Paire should be the favorite but I call this a match to watch because he is susceptible to being upset here.
(2)Tommy Haas vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Vienna champion Haas should be a big favorite over his countryman, the struggling Kohlschreiber, who lost to Ruben Bemelmans in Vienna. However, Haas was not playing well coming into Vienna and he has played a lot of tennis this year making him at least somewhat susceptible to a loss. He leads the h2h 3-2, but this is their first meeting on any sort of hard surface, much less indoors, and though I still expect him to win, just like Paire he is vulnerable here with such a tough field.
Ferrer/Monfils will face Julien Benneteau/Feliciano Lopez in round 2. All four of those players are very capable of great play indoors when at their best but none are predictable right now. The quarterfinalist from this section should face Jerzy Janowicz as the Pole gears up to defend all those points in Paris next week, and he played decently in Stockholm the preceding week.
Janowicz opens with qualifier Pablo Carreno-Busta and then faces Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Joao Sousa, both of whom have made recent deep runs at indoor fall events (St. Petersburg final and Kuala Lumpur champion). This is a very tough section of the draw.
3 seed and Spaniard Nicolas Almagro is back after good play on the Asian swing. He’s also a two time former champion here. Nico opens with the hapless Pablo Andujar, as Fernando Verdasco or Michal Przysiezny wait on deck. Verdasco withdrew from Stockholm midway through the event and his form is questionable. I expect it to be Almagro vs one of Fabio Fognini/Martin Klizan/Janko Tipsarevic/Marcel Granollers in the quarterfinals. That section is much weaker and none of the players are in the best form. Tipsarevic continues to get good draws but perform incredibly poorly, and thus Fognini should get through.
Haas/Kohlschreiber will face Bernard Tomic/Mikhail Youzhny. As Haas is the only in-form player of those 4, he should advance to face Paire/Nieminen or Gilles Simon in the quarters. Simon opens with qualifier Alejandro Falla, and any of those round 2 matches would be a treat. Paire beat Simon in Shanghai recently.
Isner/Gulbis will face Jeremy Chardy/Florian Mayer, with one of Anderson/Bautista Agut Albert Montanes/Dmitry Tursunov awaiting in the quarters. This is a very winnable and open section for anyone who wants to seize the moment.
Dark Horse: Julien Benneteau
Benny has had indoor success and with both his first round opponent Feliciano Lopez and Monfils/Ferrer being out of form, he has a good chance to at least make the quarters in such a tough field.
Almagro d. Janowicz
Haas d. Gulbis
Almagro and JJ have met twice this year with a split decision. Gulbis has won every hard court meeting against Haas (2-0), but form wise I give Tommy a slight edge. All of their matches have gone the distance.
Almagro d. Haas
Haas is 3-0 career against Almagro, including a win this year on hard courts, but the two hard court matches have played have gone the distance. I think Almagro will finally claim victory here.
Swiss Indoors Basel
ATP World Tour 500
October 21-October 27, 2013
Prize Money: € 1,988,835
Top 8 seeds
1: Juan Martin Del Potro
2: Tomas Berdych
3: Roger Federer
4: Stanislas Wawrinka
5: Richard Gasquet
6: Kei Nishikori
7: Andreas Seppi
8: Grigor Dimitrov
First round Matchups to watch:
(8)Grigor Dimitrov vs. Radek Stepanek
This match is mainly interesting to watch in order to see how Dimitrov performs coming off his first ATP title in Stockholm. The veteran Stepanek made the quarters in Vienna and can do well on this surface, making him a respectable opponent who could pull of the upset.
Vasek Pospisil vs. Robin Haase
A reprisal of their match in Vienna last week in round 2, which was won by Haase in nail biting fashion. The Dutchman would go on to make the final in that event and he will look to keep the momentum going. This match is a toss-up to me.
(2)Tomas Berdych vs. Ivo Karlovic
This match could be a tricky test for Berdych, who is in unpredictable form heading into this event as the 2 seed. Karlovic made the semis in Moscow and the h2h is an even 2-2. I expect the Czech to win, but Ivo could work his way to a victory.
Defending champ Juan Martin Del Potro opens with Henri Laaksonen, while Benjamin Becker or Marcos Baghdatis await for him. In the quarters, it should be JMDP vs. Moscow champ Richard Gasquet in a huge clash. Gasquet is also in the hunt to qualify for the World Tour finals, and wins against Michael Llodra and Paul-Henri Mathieu/Denis Kudla would keep the momentum going.
Stan Wawrinka will also seek to solidify a WTF berth. The Swissman has returned home to play after a career year for him and he will open with Edouard Roger-Vasselin followed by Victor Hanescu/Tobias Kamke. One of Andreas Seppi/Daniel Brands/Dani Gimeno-Traver/Lukasz Kubot await in the semis, probably Brands or Seppi in what is a weak section.
Berdych/Karlovic will face Pospisil/Haase in round 2. The Quarterfinalist there will most likely face either 6 seed Kei Nishikori, or Ivan Dodig. Nishikori opens with Marco Chiudinelli, while Dodig plays Carlos Berlocq.
Roger Federer is also under pressure to make the World Tour Finals after his “worst” year of tennis in a long time. The Swiss favorite and dominator of Basel opens with Adrian Mannarino, who he took apart at the US Open in their last meeting, and should get Denis Istomin in round 2. Istomin just needs to be Horacio Zeballos.
Federer doesn’t have that hard of a draw as Dimitrov/Stepanek or Kenny De Schepper/Alex Dolgopolov will be his quarterfinal opponent. Dimitrov should be tired, Stepanek could capitalize as De Schepper is inconsistent and Dolgopolov has had good draws but is slumping and has all year.
Dark Horse: Kenny De Schepper
I don’t expect that much from the young Frenchman, but he can play well indoors when his game is on, and though he has poor movement, he’s got a very good serve. Dolgopolov, his first opponent, is in poor form. De Schepper’s second opponent? Either Dimitrov or Stepanek who are beatable, as Dimitrov should be tired and Stepanek is inconsistent. In the quarters, a match against Federer is most likely. You just never know these days.
Del Potro d. Wawrinka
Federer d. Berdych
Del Po and Stan have never met on hard courts, but JMDP controls the h2h and I think he will win this one, given his form on the Asian swing.
Berdych has won the last two meetings against Fed but his form doesn’t seem that great. You have to think that Fed will be super-motivated at home, trying to qualify for the WTF and working with a new coaching team after dropping Paul Annacone.
Del Potro d. Federer
A rematch of the Basel final last year. I expect the same result.
A healthy Del Potro should dictate things and win the big points to take the title here and maintain his ranking points.
Del Potro Stops Fedex in Basel for 2nd Straight ATP Title, Ferrer Wins in Valencia
Juan Martin Del Potro denied Roger Federer his 6th Basel title with a 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 upset win in a topsy-turvy match. It’s Del Po’s 2nd straight title and he is playing like a champ right now—beating Alejandro Falla, Brian Baker, Kevin Anderson and Richard Gasquet earlier in the week.
Federer beat Benjamin Becker, Thomaz Bellucci in 3 surprisingly tough sets, Benoit Paire, and semi finalist Paul-Henri Mathieu! After dropping the final, Fed withdrew from ATP Paris, citing the need to rest before the World Tour Finals. That gives Novak Djokovic the year end number 1 spot.
In doubles, Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic are back after a breakup. They took the bigger hardware over Treat Conrad Huey and Dominic Inglot. This marks Nestor’s 80th career doubles title. UVA Grad Huey will be competing in the Charlottesville Challenger this week.
David Ferrer won his 6th ATP title on the year at his home event 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 over Alexandr Dolgopolov in the other three set final of the weekend. Earlier in the week, Ferrer tore through Olivier Rochus, Albert Ramos and Nicolas Almagro before dispatching surprise semifinalist Ivan Dodig in three.
Dolgopolov made his second ATP 500 final and continued his rollercoaster year, beating Filippo Volandri, Gilles Muller, Marcel Granollers and semi finalist Jurgen Melzer all in straights.
Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares beat David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco for the doubles title, their 3rd together in the fall campaign.
The final dual 500’s of the year are this week with players fighting for every last ranking point. Here is a preview.
Valencia Open 500
ATP World Tour 500
October 21-October 28, 2012
Prize Money € 1,424,850
Top 4 seeds
1: David Ferrer
2: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
3: Janko Tipsarevic
4: Juan Monaco
Valencia has a stellar field with all eight seeds being top fifteen players and three of the top four seeds all looking to earn a spot in London.
First Round Matchups to watch:
Juan Monaco vs. Lleyton Hewitt
Monaco, who is on the outside looking in when it comes to the World Tour Finals, suffered a 2nd round loss in Shanghai and didn’t play this week while Hewitt notched a couple of wins in Stockholm en route to the quarterfinals. This is a match Monaco needs to win and should win, but the gritty Hewitt always brings something to the table and if he catches Monaco off he will be sure to capitalize.
Milos Raonic vs. Gilles Muller
Two of the biggest and best servers in the game will meet in what is sure to be a ‘hold-fest’ with break point chances rare and many aces. Muller is coming off a good run to the semis in Vienna while Raonic has had a good year but has been a bit inconsistent. This match will really come down to who wins the tiebreaks at the end of the set.
Gilles Simon vs. Janko Tipsarevic
Assuming Nadal does not play the World Tour Finals, which is pretty much assured, Tipsarevic at no. 9 would be the last man in. In order to keep his spot, he is going to have to get past Simon in the first round and probably win a couple of more matches along with doing well in Paris next week. On the positive side, he made the semis in Vienna but suffered an upset loss to Grega Zemlja. Simon has had an up and down year, but seems to have somewhat recovered from his summer swoon. Tipsy and Simon have recently met twice, with Simon winning in Bangkok and Tipsarevic winning in Tokyo. This should be a close match.
Valencia’s hometown favorite, David Ferrer opens against a qualifier and then would play fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos or a qualifier. In the quarters, he could meet another Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro, who just made the semis in Stockholm and lost to Berdych again. Almagro will take on Juan Carlos Ferrero in what should be the tennis royal’s final match.
Ferrero is a former French Open champ, US Open Finalist and a former world number 1, but he suffered a career decline as time went on and last played in Umag on clay earlier in the year. Also in this part of the draw are Sam Querrey and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez who play each other.
The winner of Monaco/Hewitt will likely meet Philip Kohlschreiber in the 2nd round, a dangerous floater here, then could do battle with the winner of Martin Klizan vs. Marin Cilic in the quarters (Cilic just beat Klizan in Shanghai). Spaniard Fernando Verdasco is also in this dangerous part of the draw as is another formerly high ranked Spanish Tennis star, wild card Tommy Robredo.
Tsonga, who has done himself some favors in the race to London by making the final in Stockholm where he will take on Tomas Berdych, opens against another veteran in the field, Xaiver Malisse, then will play the winner of Jurgen Melzer vs. Carlos Berlocq. In the quarters he could meet John Isner, who plays Fabio Fognini, and then the winner of Pablo Andujar vs. David Goffin. Isner last beat Tsonga in the Winston Salem final.
The winner of Tipsarevic/Simon will play Spaniard Marcel Granollers or a qualifier and then could face the winner of Muller/Raonic in the quarters or Alexandr Dolgopolov, who plays Filippo Volandri. Dolgopolov blew five match points and lost in three sets to Edouard Roger-Vasselin in his last match in Moscow. Either Simon or Tipsarevic have a good draw here.
Dark Horse: Fernando Verdasco
In what is a very tough field for most, Verdasco gets a wild card in Robredo to open and then would need to get past Cilic and avenge a loss to him in Shanghai, assuming Klizan doesn’t do so first. After that, he would likely get Monaco, who he beat in Shanghai and then Almagro or Ferrer in the semis, which would probably be his biggest roadblock.
Almagro d. Verdasco
Tsonga d. Tipsarevic
Tsonga d. Almagro
Tsonga might be looking at his second title in a row here if things pan out.
Swiss Indoors Basel
ATP World Tour 500
October 22-October 28, 2012
Prize Money € 1,404,300
Top 4 seeds
1: Roger Federer
2: Juan Martin Del Potro
3: Richard Gasquet
4: Stanislas Wawrinka
They should rename it the Fed Cup for Roger. It’s already taken?
Five time champ and hometown hero Federer opens against Jeremy Chardy, who might give him a bit of trouble. After that, he would get the winner of surprise Moscow finalist and possible champion Thomaz Bellucci vs. Go Soeda. In the quarters, he could see the man Bellucci will play in the Moscow final, Andreas Seppi, who opens with Benoit Paire.
The other home country favorite, Stan Wawrinka, opens against Nikolay Davydenko and then meets the winner of Paul Henri Mathieu vs. Henri Laaksonen. In the quarters, he could get Viktor Troicki, who plays Grigor Dimitrov in the first round or Julien Benneteau, who opens against a qualifier.
Del Potro will vie for the Vienna final Sunday and is still looking for points towards the World Tour Finals. JMDP will open against Alejandro Falla and would follow up with Brian Baker or a qualifier. In the quarters, Del Po could meet Florian Mayer, who lost in the 2nd round of Stockholm and opens against Marinko Matosevic. Also in this part of the draw are Jarkko Nieminen and Kevin Anderson, a couple of players who can do damage indoors.
Richard Gasquet looks to close out his year in style and will start with Robin Haase before drawing the winner of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. Swissman Marco Chiudinelli. In the quarters, he could see Mikhail Youhzny, who opens against Bernard Tomic, or another Aussie, Matt Ebden, who plays a qualifier.
Dark Horse: Julien Benneteau
Benneteau hasn’t played since Beijing but he has a good draw opening with a qualifier and then 8 seed Viktor Troicki, who is rather inconsistent as of late. After that, he would duel with favorite Wawrinka, who struggles with consistency and can be upset on an off-day.
Federer d. Wawrinka
Del Potro d. Gasquet
Federer d. Del Potro
Look for the Swiss Maestro to make it six on his home turf.