2017 ATP Chennai Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Despite not featuring as good of a field as Brisbane and Doha, Chennai is still an opportunity for the ATP’s best to prepare for the first slam of the season, and it remains India’s only ATP event. Here is a preview, with predictions of this 250.
Aircel Chennai Open
ATP World Tour 250
Prize Money: $447,480
Top 4 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP rankings in parentheses)
1: Marin Cilic (6)
2: Roberto Bautista Agut (14)
3: Albert Ramos (27)
4: Martin Klizan (35)
Just two of the ATP top 20 start their year in Chennai.
First round matches to watch
(6)Borna Coric vs. (Q)Hyeon Chung
The qualifier Chung, age 20, posted a 27-18 record in 2016 with a majority of his wins coming at the challenger tour level. Coric went 23-25, and at age 20 still has much room for improvement. Both of these players are talented young guns likely to feature in ATP main draws for years to come. Coric wasn’t fit at the end of last year, and thus Chung is probably a slight favorite, presuming Coric is rusty.
(WC)Ramkumar Ramanathan vs. (Q)Yuki Bhambri
Both of these young Indian players are ranked outside of the top 200, but have proven they have the talent to be much better than their current rankings. Bhambri should be the favorite after ripping through qualifying and going 17-13 in 2016. Ramanathan for his part went 40-33 overall in 2016 and should continue to improve in 2017. Bhambri is the more talented player, he’s just had bad luck with injuries in recent years.
Marin Cilic went 50-25 in 2016, an improvement on his 2015 season, as he returned to the top 10, and can now make a push for the top 5. The Croatian #1 will open with Gastao Elias or qualifier Jozef Kovalik, Kovalik is lower ranked but still probably the favorite in his round 1 match on hard courts. Cilic’s path to the semis is relatively clear, as the seed, Rendy Lu, lacks the firepower to beat him in the quarters. Lu opens with Radu Albot after going just 7-9 at the ATP level in 2016. Watch out for 20 year old Russian Daniil Medvedev in this section. Medvedev opens with young Brazilian Thiago Monteiro, who much prefers clay. The Russian reached the top 100 in 2016 after posing a 69-27 record, and looks set for more accomplishments in 2017. Cilic over Medvedev is my pick for the quarters as Lu doesn’t impress me.
Chung/Coric will face Damir Dzumhur or journeyman veteran Dudi Sela in round 2. On hard courts Sela is probably a slight favorite, despite his poor ATP record last season. Chung should reach the quarters to face off with veteran serve and volleyer Steve Darcis. Darcis opens with challenger level qualifier Nikola Mektic, with Ramos to follow. The Belgian went 42-12 in 2016, though only three of those wins came at the tour level. Ramos went 34-31, on hard courts I have Darcis losing to Chung in the quarters though.
Roberto Bautista Agut will face Rogerio Dutra Silva or Dusan Lajovic and is a heavy favorite to reach the semis from his section. RBA went 46-23 in 2016, an improvement on his 2015 record, and should have no problems against Lajovic, or veteran Mikhail Youzhny in the quarters. Youzhny split his time between ATP and Challenger tennis in 2016 going 40-23 overall at age 34. 29 year old Indian Saketh Myneni made his ATP debut in 2016, after going 29-18 at the challenger level. Myneni is a great story, but should fall to Youzhny in round 1. Wild card Casper Ruud is just 18 years of age, and has great odds at being Norway’s best ever ATP player. Ruud went 54-17 in 2016, making his ATP main draw debut in the process. He’ll be the favorite against dirtballer Renzo Olivo, even though he prefers clay as well, and then he should fall to Youzhny in round 2. RBA over Youzhny is my pick in the quarters.
Martin Klizan, 19-17 in 2016, is seeking consistency in 2017, as is Benoit Paire, who went 26-33 in 2016. Presuming Klzian beats Guillermo Garcia-Lopez/Aljaz Bedene, and Paire defeats Konstantin Kravchuk and the Bhambri/Ramanathan winner, they will meet in the quarterfinals. On hard courts Bedene is the slight favorite over the veteran GGL, while Paire should beat Kravchuk, who had a great year on the challenger tour going 45-22 in 2016. Paire over Klizan is my pick for the semifinals, in a section featuring streaky players.
Dark Horse: Hyeon Chung
The qualifier Chung is perhaps the favorite to reach the semifinals from a weak section, and if he does that much he’ll have a punchers chance against the elite Cilic, where he will likely come up short.
Cilic d. Chung
Bautista Agut d. Paire
Cilic and RBA are clear favorites to reach their first ATP finals this season.
Cilic d. Bautista Agut
Cilic is the best player in the Chennai field, and on hard courts he should take home the title.