2016 ATP Quito Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The first clay court ATP tournament of the season is in Quito, Ecuador and is an ATP 250 in year 2 of its history.
Ecuador Open Quito
ATP World Tour 250
February 1-7, 2016
Prize Money: $463,520
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP rankings in parentheses)
1: Bernard Tomic (17)
2: Feliciano Lopez (19)
3: Thomaz Bellucci (37)
4: Fernando Verdasco (45)
First round matchups to watch:Embed from Getty Images
(5)Victor Estrella vs. Guido Pella
The defending champion Estrella has a tough opening round contest against Pella. Pella is 2-2 on clay against Estrella, and is also the oddsmakers favorite. It’s going to be hard for Estrella to maintain ATP caliber tennis in 2016, and winning matches like this are key.
Top Half:Embed from Getty Images
Bernard Tomic is 7-3 to start the season, but he’s never posted a winning record on clay, and though this is a weak field, he’s clearly at risk of an upset before the semifinals. Tomic will face American Austin Krajicek or Roberto Carballes Baena, and then most likely Alejandro Falla or Paolo Lorenzi in the quarterfinals. Falla opens with Giovanni Lapentti, who has yet to win in 2016, while recent challenger finalist Lorenzi opens with Gonzalo Escobar. Lorenzi is 2-1 on clay against Falla, and is the most likely quarterfinalist after a great start to the season for the Italian veteran.
Given this is clay I have Lorenzi upsetting Tomic to reach the semifinals.
Thomaz Bellucci is just 1-3 to start the season, but he has positive history on clay and he should get past either Albert Montanes or Jozef Kovalik, who is a perfect 3-3 in qualifying bids this season. Montanes is a fading veteran, though he could win the round 1 match. Bellucci vs. Pablo Carreno Busta is a quality quarterfinal. PCB has yet to post an above .500 record on ATP clay, but he’s demonstrated great ability at the challenger level, and should beat Rogerio Dutra Silva in round 1, and Pere Riba or Inigo Cervantes in round 2.
Carreno Busta looks capable of making a move up the rankings in 2016, and I have him upsetting Bellucci, and moving the clay court h2h to 1-1 to reach the semifinals.Embed from Getty Images
Feliciano Lopez is defending finalist points and is 2-2 to start the season. Lopez’s serve and volley game played well on high altitude clay last year and he should handle either Facundo Arguello or qualifier Joao Souza in round 2. Likely quarterfinal opponent Albert Ramos has proven himself on clay with his topspin game. Ramos opens with Dusan Lajovic and will face Horacio Zeballos or Rajeev Ram in round 2. Zeballos could trouble Ramos, but the ATP veteran should advance.
Ramos has never played his countryman Lopez on clay, but given his success last year, Lopez is a minor favorite to reach the semifinals.
Fernando Verdasco is 2-2 to start the season, and scored a win over Rafael Nadal in Melbourne. The Spaniard hasn’t been at his best on clay but the altitude should help him power past Alejandro Gonzalez or Renzo Olivo in round 2. Olivo qualified in Melbourne. Marcel Granollers opens with Andrej Martin, and should beat Pella or Estrella to setup a matchup with Verdasco. Granollers is 2-0 on clay against Verdasco, but once more the venue should allow Verdasco’s power to help him reach the semis.Embed from Getty Images
Dark Horse: Paolo LorenziEmbed from Getty Images
Lorenzi is a seed but you wouldn’t expect him to reach the semifinals and perhaps go farther than that. He lacks an exciting game, or a recognizable personality, but he’s battling on the ATP tour for quite some time, and he’s always been consistent, especially on clay. A shocking run to the final or even capturing the title would be a fitting result for the Italian.
Carreno Busta d. Lorenzi
Lopez d. Verdasco
PCB leads Lorenzi 4-0 in the h2h, Lopez beat Verdasco in the Quito semis last year.
Lopez d. Carreno Busta
PCB has a h2h win over Lopez, but Feliciano should be eager to do one better and win a title in Quito.Embed from Getty Images