2017 ATP Acapulco Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The top ATP Tour event this week is down in Mexico, as some of the tour’s best will battle it out at this 500 level tournament.
Abierto Mexicano Telcel
ATP World Tour 500*
February 27-March 4, 2017
Prize Money: $1,491,310
*denotes joint ATP/WTA event
Top 4 seeds (ATP rankings in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (2)
2: Rafael Nadal (6)
3: Marin Cilic (8)
4: Dominic Thiem (9)
First round matches to watch:
Bernard Tomic vs. Donald Young
Young leads the h2h 2-1 and has made two straight semifinals in back to back weeks. Tomic has lost three straight matches and badly needs to bounce back down in Mexico. The Aussie has struggled with his fitness this year, and despite the fatigue factor, I have Young slipping past Tomic.
(4)Dominic Thiem vs. Gilles Simon
Thiem has won his last three matches against Simon, including one recently in Rotterdam. The Austrian is the defending champion and has won seven of his last eight matches. Simon is steady and will put a lot of balls back in play, but unless fatigue dooms Thiem, he should win this match.
(8)John Isner vs. Steve Johnson
Johnson has made two straight quarterfinals and has won his last two meetings against Isner. The 31 year old American big server has struggled this season and badly needs to find form. Despite being favored, I have Isner dropping this opening round match to Johnson.
(3)Marin Cilic vs. (WC)Alexandr Dolgopolov
These players have split h2h meetings, and Dolgopolov is coming off a seven match win streak. Cilic has struggled this year, but reached the quarterfinals in Rotterdam, and should be fitter than Dolgopolov. Despite his talented shotmaking, Dolgopolov should fall short against Cilic’s power.
(2)Rafael Nadal vs. Mischa Zverev
Nadal pummeled Zverev in Brisbane and is a heavy favorite in this one. The German has struggled since a run in Australia, but Nadal hasn’t played since then, and could be rusty. It will be interesting to see whether Zverev’s serve and volley bothers Rafa at all.
Novak Djokovic will open his title bid against Martin Klizan, big man Juan Martin Del Potro looms in round 2, presuming JMDP puts away qualifier Frances Tiafoe. This is a tough section for Djokovic, he should still defeat Del Potro, but then Marseille semifinalist Nick Kyrgios should await him in the quarters. Kyrgios opens with a struggling Dudi Sela, then the Young/Tomic winner. Kyrgios and Del Po both have the weapons to beat Novak, but I still can’t go against the multiple slam winner and world #2 to reach the semifinals.
David Goffin looks set to face Dominic Thiem in the the quarters. Goffin opens with a struggling Stephane Robert, his round 2 opponent is a Delray quarterfinalist, either Sam Querrey or Kyle Edmund. Goffin has been in great form, reaching consecutive ATP finals recently, he should beat Thiem after Thiem defeats Simon and Fritz/Mannarino.
The winner of Nadal/Zverev will face Rendy Lu/Paolo Lorenzi next, with Jack Sock the most likely quarterfinal opponent. Sock faces qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, with either Feliciano Lopez or Jordan Thompson to follow. Given both Lopez and Thompson are struggling, the Delray champion Sock should be prepared for a battle with Nadal. Two of the best forehands in men’s tennis will go head-to-head, with Nadal likely to come out on top given his experience, and a better all-around game.
The winner of Johnson/Isner will face an American, either Ernesto Escobedo, or qualifier Stefan Kozlov. I have Johnson opposite Cilic in the quarters, after Dolgopolov, Cilic should defeat his countryman Borna Coric, who opens with local wild card Lucas Gomez.
Dark Horse: Juan Martin Del Potro
If Del Potro can find his range against Novak Djokovic, he could pull off a big upset, then defeat Nick Kyrgios to reach the semifinals. Del Potro has the power and ability, but he’s still likely too rusty to pull off that feat.
Djokovic d. Goffin
Nadal d. Cilic
Djokovic leads Goffin 5-0 in the h2h, while Nadal leads Cilic 3-1, the top two players at this tournament should meet in the final.
Djokovic d. Nadal
Djokovic has won seven straight against Rafa, the Serbian is a favorite to take the title despite a difficult draw.