Jenson Brooksby Gets Even With Kevin Anderson in Citi Open Rematch of Newport Final
SteveFogleman in Washington
Little more than two weeks ago, Jenson Brooksby found himself in an ATP tour level final and in a first set tiebreak against Kevin Anderson. Though he lost that tiebreak and the Tennis Hall of Fame final, Michael Scott would love to say “My, how the turns have tabled.” Monday at the Citi Open in Washington, Brooksby found himself in a first set tiebreak before winning in straight sets against Newport champion Anderson.
“I was definitely happy with how I ended the first set,” Brooksby said after today’s win. “I mean, obviously two weeks ago in Newport I had a lot of chances I think to break, and also in the tiebreak. Didn’t get it. That was definitely disappointing.”
“But,” he added, “I was up 1-0 in the breaker. I lost focus for multiple points. But I was really proud of myself to be able to get it back and win multiple in a row to get the first set.”
“I kept my foot on the gas pedal, started returning better, got the break. Happy to close it out in straights.”
Other notable closeouts included Ricardas Berankis advancing past Mitch Krueger, 7-6, 6-2, Daniel Galan upsetting Tommy Paul, 6-4, 6-3, and Ilya Ivahska easing past Egor Gerasimov.
While Brooksby was the first American to win at Citi Open, compatriot Marcos Giron also moved on an hour later as he needed three sets to take out plucky qualifier Ilya Marchenko, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.
Andreas Seppi also earned a comeback win over Yasutaka Uchiyama, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Seppi will do a quick turnaround and prepare to do battle with #2 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime tomorrow on Stadium Court.
The five ATP 250 level hard court stops in the run-up to the Australian Open saw five different players claim titles and find form during the first portion of the 2019 season. Here is your look at all of January’s ATP action.
Roberto Bautista Agut claimed a 9th career ATP title defeating Tomas Berdych 6-4 3-6 6-3 in the final, after stunning world #1 Novak Djokovic 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in the semifinals, one of the best wins of his career. The Spaniard also claimed wins against Matteo Berrettini, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, and Stan Wawrinka.
It was a great comeback tournament for Berdych who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber, Fernando Verdasco, Pierre Hugues Herbert and Marco Cecchinato. David Goffin and Herbert won the doubles title over Haase/Middelkoop.
Kevin Anderson is a dark horse for the Australian Open title and he was the player to beat in India, capturing the Chennai title 7-6 6-7 7-6 over fellow big serving veteran Ivo Karlovic. Gilles Simon, Jaume Munar, and Laslo Djere also fell to Anderson as he didn’t drop a set until the final. Karlovic, the oldest top level player on tour, defeated Felix Auger Aliassime, Evgeny Donskoy, Ernests Gulbis, and Steve Darcis, a veteran on the comeback trail.
Home heroes Bopanna and Sharan defeated Bambridge/O’Mara in the doubles final.
Kei Nishikori came through as the favorite in Brisbane, defeating rising Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-4 3-6 6-2 in the final. Nishikori didn’t drop a set prior to the final, racking up wins against Denis Kudla, Grigor Dimitrov, and Jeremy Chardy. Medvedev’s path to the final was defeating Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, three capable and crafty veterans.
Marcus Daniell and Wesley Koolhof beat Ram/Salisbury in the doubles final.
Sydney native Alex De Minaur triumphed at home for his maiden ATP title. The Demon edged tour veteran Andreas Seppi 7-5 7-6 for his 5th straight match win. ADM defeated Dusan Lajovic, Reilly Opelka, Jordan Thompson, and Gilles Simon to reach the final, he didn’t drop a set all week.
The veteran Seppi was happy to find form in what was a challenging tournament for him. Jeremy Chardy, Martin Klizan, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Diego Schwartzman were his victims on the week in some nip and tuck matches.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares defeated the Colombians Cabal/Farah in the doubles final.
Tennys Sandgren has a lot of points to defend in Melbourne, but he enters the AO in great form after claiming his first career ATP title. Sandgren won Auckland without dropping a set this week. Sandgren blitzed past Cam Norrie who grew up in Auckland. Max Marterer, Marco Cecchinato, Leonardo Mayer, and Philipp Kohlschreiber were all defeated by Sandgren.
Norrie defeated Benoit Paire, Joao Sousa, Taylor Fritz and J.L. Struff to reach the final. Ben McLachlan/ Jan-Lennard Struff defeated Klaasen/Venus in the doubles final.
The top seed Tsitsipas won his opening match against Guido Andreozzi and now faces a far tougher test against the veteran Seppi. Seppi has edged past Jeremy Chardy and Martin Klizan to reach this stage, and he’ll be highly motivated to play his best and try to win this tournament, given his AO expectations are far more muted. Tsitsipas is a rising star though and he’ll be tough to put away, I expect the favored Greek to reach the semis.
Schwartzman will be favored against Nishioka after an easy win in the last round. Nishioka qualified and has already won four matches including main draw wins against Ryan Harrison and Andrey Rublev. Both players are undersized ball strikers with punchy games. I’ll go for the upset here though, with Nishioka rising and redlining his game right now.
Millman survived a stern test against Frances Tiafoe and then eased past Marton Fucsovics to reach this stage. The home favorite will be an underdog against Gilles Simon. Simon is 3-1 to start the season and should be in good shape to reach the semifinals in what will be a contest worth watching.
Alex De Minaur vs Jordan Thompson
Thompson has been in really good form since the end of last season, but De Minaur is the more talented Aussie and will be favored in this contest. ADM is 4-1 to start the season and has a real shot at lifting this title.
Tsitsipas d. Nishioka
De Minaur d. Simon
The top seed Tsitsipas is favored to lift this title, with De Minaur coming short for the second year in a row.
American Contingent Including Sam Querrey Highlight ATP Winston-Salem 250 Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP Winston-Salem 250 is the final tune up before the US Open for a varied contingent of mid-level to fringe ATP players. Here is your look at all the action under the North Carolina sun.
Marton Fucsovics should be a strong favorite against Guido Andreozzi and Radu Albot in rounds 1 and 2. Daniil Medvedev vs. Alex De Minaur looks like an exciting matchup. The DC finalist De Minaur should be a slight favorite against the young Russian who already defeated Mirza Basic in round 1. De Minaur should emerge from the section as a quarterfinalist.
Ryan Harrison should run past wild card Borna Gojo, and then struggling veteran Gilles Simon. Harrison is good enough on American hard courts he could have a great run here. Taylor Fritz should emerge to face Harrison in round 3, Fritz needs to get past Malek Jaziri and Filip Krajinovic, both of whom are struggling. Harrison should reach the quarters.
Jan-Lennard Struff is in good form after beating Benoit Paire round 1, he should beat Marco Cecchinato to reach round 3 while Andreas Seppi will be favored in the section after beating Joao Sousa, with Nicolas Jarry on deck.
Sam Querrey should be the 4th quarterfinalist. neither Taro Daniel/John Millman in round 2 are in great form, and the rest of the section is weak. Damir Dzumhur/Tennys Sandgren will face off in round 2 presuming Sandgren defeats a slumping Ricardas Berankis. The winner in that matchup should fall to Querrey in round 3.
Pablo Carreno Busta is a potential champion, PCB should roll past Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Franko Skugor, with Peter Gojowczyk likely in round 3. Both Lukas Lacko and Horacio Zeballos are struggling. PCB will reach the quarters and should go further.
This is perhaps Hyeon Chung‘s moment to shine post-injury, Chung hasn’t had a significant result since his return to tour but a draw featuring Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round 2 (GGL defeated Marcos Baghdatis), and most likely Nikoloz Basilashvili or Matteo Berrettini in round 3 looks to be easy enough to reach the quarters. I’ll back Berrettini past Julien Benneteau and Basilashvili, with Chung reaching the quarters.
Leonardo Mayer‘s good form suggests he’s well positioned to upset Kyle Edmund and then defeat Albert Ramos or Roberto Carballes Baena after RCB defeated Guido Pella in round 1. Mayer looks like a dark horse this week and should reach the quarters.
I have qualifier Tommy Paul defeating Laslo Djere, while Steve Johnson is looking to find form and should reach round 3. Andrey Rublev has struggled since playing well in Washington, Rublev should defeat Jaume Munar/Brayden Schnur in round 2, and I’ll back Johnson past Rublev on home soil to reach the quarters.
Newlywed Marin Cilic The Top Seed at the Istanbul Open Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The clay 250 in Istanbul features newlywed Marin Cilic as it’s top seed, he’s joined by hungry group of ATP players seeking form ahead of the bigger clay court stops to come. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
Marin Cilic will open with Malek Jaziri or Marsel Ilhan, with a qualifier likely awaiting in the quarters. Neither Jiri Vesely nor Gerald Melzer are in good form, and I’d expect qualifiers Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Thiago Monteiro to knock them off, with Cilic edging Gimeno-Traver in the quarters. DGT is in good form at the challenger level.
Budapest semifinalist Andreas Seppi will face Laslo Djere or Denis Istomin in round 2, while Paolo Lorenzi should defeat Cem Ilkel before facing a qualifier, either Marco Trungelliti or Elias Ymer. Yet again I have a qualifier in the quarters, as Trungelliti is in far better form than Lorenzi. Seppi should reach the semis.
Damir Dzumhur is in poor form and will open against Thomas Fabbiano or Mikhail Youzhny. I’m not confident but I’ll put Dzumhur into the quarters opposite Jeremy Chardy. Chardy has a challenging opening match against Nikoloz Basilashvili, and then will face either Budapest finalist John Millman, or Dusan Lajovic, probably Lajovic given Millman’s fatigue. Chardy is my semifinalist from this weak section.
Aljaz Bedene, a semifinalist in Budapest, will face Matteo Berrettini or Taro Daniel in round 2, I have him winning that and advancing to the quarters opposite Rogerio Dutra Silva. The Brazilian should take advantage of a weak path of Radu Albot and Viktor Troicki/Bernard Tomic to reach the quarters. Tomic and Troicki are a shell of their abilities. Bedene should win the section.
Rising Stars of Hungarian Tennis Marton Fucsovics and Zsombor Piros Feature in Budapest 250 Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP 250 on clay in Budapest is one of the handful of ATP events in Eastern Europe and Hungary’s marquee tennis event. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
Lucas Pouille is the top seed and defending champion but he’s struggling right now. Pouille will open with John Millman or Radu Albot, with Hungary’s own Marton Fucsovics likely to follow. Fucsovics opens with Yannick Maden, while his likely round 2 opponent Max Marterer takes on Viktor Troicki. This section is full of strugglers, but I’ll back Fucsovics to rise at home to defeat Marterer and Pouille and reach the semifinals.
Richard Gasquet will be a heavy favorite to win out in his section. Gasquet faces Hurbert Hurkacz or Lorenzo Sonego in round 2, with Aljaz Bedene likely awaiting in the quarters. Bedene’s path is Marius Copil, then Attila Balazs or Matteo Berrettini. Gasquet is in great form on clay and I’ll back him over Bedene.
With Damir Dzumhur, the #2 seed, in poor form, I’ll go with Marco Cecchinato to beat Mirza Basic and Dzumhur in consecutive upsets. J.L. Struff takes on Jurgen Zopp then Alexander Bublik or Denis Istomin for a spot in the quarters. I’ll take Struff over Cecchinato to reach the semis.
Andreas Seppi or Denis Shapovalov look set for a good week. Shapovalov gets either Nikoloz Basilashvili or a struggling Paolo Lorenzi in round 2. Seppi opens with Thomas Fabbiano, local young gun Zsombor Piros or Mikhail Youzhny will follow. I’ll take Seppi on clay against Shapovalov in the quarters.
2015 US Open Week 1 Men’s Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The final slam of the season is also the final ATP level stop in the United States for 2015. All of the top names are competing for glory under the New York lights,and here is a preview of what should be two high quality of hard court tennis.
New York City, NY, USA
August 31-September 13, 2015
Prize Money: $33,017,800
Top 8 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Roger Federer (2)
3: Andy Murray (3)
4: Kei Nishikori (4)
5: Stan Wawrinka (5)
6: Tomas Berdych (6)
7: David Ferrer (7)
8: Rafael Nadal (8)
The entire ATP top 50 will take part in the US Open this season with the lone exception of Juan Monaco as this is the strongest tournament field you can get.
Seppi, an established veteran all-courter, started the season on hard courts on fire, but has cooled off since and finished his US Open series tournaments with a record of 1-2. He could be on upset alert against the talented young gun qualifier Paul who is 40-17 below the main tour level this season at just 18. Though he lacks an ATP or Grand Slam main draw win, and is making his professional slam debut, he was solid in qualifying and has a tenacious and well-rounded game that will give him a punchers chance in this one. The crowd should be on his side, and though I see Seppi winning this, Paul could arrive into the headlines sooner than expected and score his first marquee win.
(23)Roberto Bautista Agut vs. (WC)Pierre-Hugues Herbert
The top 30 RBA has met the Frenchman Herbert just once in his career, but the big server with a crisp volley game pushed him to three sets in that match, and could well give him a headache once more in the opening round of the US Open. RBA has had a pedestrian season overall and went just 2-2 on summer hard courts, while Herbert comes off his first ever ATP final in Winston-Salem. Herbert has always had singles talent, but has lacked consistency and has performed better in doubles. PHH is a streaky player and RBA still likely wins this, but keep an eye on a potential upset if Herbert’s good form continues in Flushing.
(8)Rafael Nadal vs. Borna Coric
Rafael Nadal has never lost in the first round of the US Open in his career, and he’s a two time champion, however that streak could be snapped this year at the hands of talented and confident young gun Borna Coric. Coric beat an injured Nadal in Basel at the end of last season for one of the biggest wins of his career, so he should already have belief, and his complete all-court game will allow him to pressure Rafa and keep things close most likely. Nadal has had one of his poorest seasons in recent memory, and has not had a good time of it on hard courts this year as he went just 3-2 in the US Open series. Nadal is not the same player that he once was, but he’s still a beast in the fitness and mental toughness departments, and with that in mind he is still likely to survive the Coric challenge. We could be looking at five sets, but in best of five Nadal tends to rise the occasion as we saw in the Australian Open early in the year.
(4)Kei Nisikori vs. Benoit Paire
Nishikori was a finalist last year at the US Open, and has a 2-0 h2h over the streaky Paire, so on paper he shouldn’t have too much trouble. With that said Paire with his elite backhand has enough of a game to threaten top 10 players if he’s focused and shows passion, and Nishikori may still be dealing with a toe injury sustained this summer. The Washington champion also reached the semis in Montreal, but came down with an injury in that match, and hasn’t played since, so it’s hard to tell how Nishikori’s form and condition will be. Paire is finally getting himself back to an ATP level and has had a good season overall, however he once more demonstrated inconsistency in Winston-Salem, and a healthy Nishikori should be able to direct enough balls to his forehand side to doom his chances.
Another match with some upset potential, the two veterans have split h2h meetings on hard courts, and Berrer, fueled by the desire to compete in his final season, has had the best year of his career, while Robredo has struggled to a 5-5 record on hard courts this year. Berrer with his throwback serve and volley game was excellent in qualifying and also reached the semifinals in Bogota this summer while Robredo went 3-2 on summer hard courts. The Spaniard has an excellent record at the US Open, but I feel his level has dropped this season with age perhaps finally catching up to him, and I see Berrer, who beat Rafael Nadal at the start of the year in Doha, scoring another memorable win over a Spaniard and reaching round 2 to add more memories to an already thrilling final season.
(22)Viktor Troicki vs. (WC)Frances Tiafoe
Wild card Frances Tiafoe, making his US Open main draw debut at 17, couldn’t have asked for a better round 1 draw given his status as the seeded Serbian Troicki has lost six straight singles matches, and hasn’t won a match since Wimbledon. Troicki has had a fine season overall, but he’s in a tailspin at the moment, perhaps hurt, or simply lacking confidence, and though he has more experience than Tiafoe, the young American is a powerful talent with enough of a game to score his first Grand Slam main draw win in this one. He got experience playing the French Open this summer and just won his first main draw ATP match in Winston-Salem, so I see the teenager keeping the good vibes and momentum flowing and making headlines with a seeded upset.
This matchup will have a lot of viewers due to the star status of both of these players. Murray’s quest for a second US Open title begins against the controversial Kyrgios, who has gotten in more trouble for his behavior and his mouth, than headlines he’s made for his actual tennis this summer. NK has had a solid season but his immaturity has shown through at times. He lives for a big stage and tends to rise up in slams, though his form hasn’t been great recently. With that said Murray has beaten him twice this year in slams and is 3-0 in the overall h2h. The Scot is extremely solid from the baseline and is able to force Kyrgios errors. Murray is simply more focused and serious with his tennis right now. I really don’t see Murray slipping up here, and the Montreal champion may not even drop a set in this highly anticipated match.
(12)Richard Gasquet vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
Gasquet just routined Kokkinakis in Cincy, but don’t sleep on the young Aussie in a best of five big time situation. Gasquet reached the quarterfinals in Cincy and has had both good and bad spurts of play this season, all throughout remaining one of the most aesthetically pleasing and graceful players to watch on tour. Kokkinakis has a bigger game and went 4-3 this summer, like Gasquet showing good and bad patches of play. This match will come down to which version of these players shows up, and a more consistent and experienced Gasquet should find a way to win over a dangerous round 1 opponent.
(29)Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (Q)Alexander Zverev
A battle of Germans, the veteran Kohlschreiber scored a win over Zverev on clay this year, and over the years has demonstrated himself to be a solid hard court player. However, Zverev is a rising young talent who is building up his hard court game, and while he is on the rise, Kohlschreiber is seemingly on the decline this season. Peppo had just one warm up match on hard courts this summer, a match he lost, while the qualifier Zverev is overall 8-2 on hard courts this summer with a top 20 win over Kevin Anderson en route to the Washington quarterfinals. On paper Kohlschreiber is a favorite, but I have Zverev notching an upset against his countryman and making some waves.
World #1 Novak Djokovic has just one US Open title and was stunned in the semifinals last season, but that doesn’t stop him from being the favorite for the title this year. The Serbian superstar has about as good of a draw as he could hope for in the first week, as he will no doubt dominate journeyman dirtballer Joao Souza in round 1, and likely brush aside big server Vasek Pospisil in round 2, presuming Vasek takes care of business against dirtballer Andreas Haider-Maurer in his round 1 match. Djokovic is 3-0 against Pospisil and has never lost a set to him, so even though Vasek has built his game back up, he’s unlikely to pose a threat.
In the third round Djokovic should be able to continue his streak of sets won over either Seppi/Paul or Teymuraz Gabashvili/Pablo Andujar. Gabashvili, a journeyman with weapons, shocked Andy Murray for the win of his career in Washington, and his good form should put him past Andujar, and likely Seppi, but lighting shouldn’t strike twice against Novak who likely reaches week 2 entirely unscathed as long as his elbow issue has sorted itself out. Djokovic reached both Masters finals this summer, and is looking to make it 3/4 slams won this year after claiming the Australian and Wimbledon titles.
14 seed David Goffin has an excellent chance at reaching week 2, the undersized ball striker has put together a solid top 20 season and went 4-2 on hard courts this summer. He’ll have a potentially challenging round 1 match against Simone Bolelli, a big hitter than himself, but his superior form and consistency should see him through to face either Ricardas Berankis or Joao Sousa, both of whom are baseline ball strikers like Goffin. Berankis and Sousa have both shown inconsistency this summer, while the undersized Berankis, a quarterfinalist in Atlanta and Washington, should have more upside, and reach round 2 before falling to Goffin in a battle of two of the smallest players on tour.
In round 3 Goffin, or another player if an upset occurs, should face either the RBA/PHH winner, or Jerzy Janowicz, presuming the big serving Pole can live up to his abilities and see off surprise Winston-Salem quarterfinalist Pablo Carreno Busta, who usually much prefers clay. Janowicz beat RBA this year in Miami, and his 3-3 record this summer should be good enough to see him through to the third round. Janowicz-Goffin is a style contrast, but Goffin is the better player a this point in their careers and has a pair of h2h wins in his back pocket this season, thus the first section should be Djokovic vs. Goffin to start week 2.
Presuming Nadal gets past Coric he should win his next two matches, likely to be against qualifier Elias Ymer, another young gun, and American Steve Johnson with relative ease. Ymer opens with dirtballer Diego Schwartzman, but doesn’t have a big enough game yet to challenge Rafa. Johnson opens with Fabio Fognini, who hasn’t won a hard court match this year, and then will face the Pablo Cuevas/Dudi Sela winner. Sela recently won a hard court challenger and likely dispatches the dirtballer Cuevas in a veteran battle, but Johnson, a semifinalist in both Washington and Winston-Salem this summer, is in excellent form and could even take a set or more off of Nadal. If Coric gets through he could reach the second week, though Johnson will have a great chance to do the same.
Milos Raonic hasn’t won a match since Wimbledon, and he’s been a rusty out of form disaster this summer (0-2), that said this losses came to big servers who took the upper hand when his return game was exposed, and his serve dropped in quality. His round 1 opponent Tim Smyczek is on a seven match losing streak and a horrible matchup disadvantage, so Raonic should build confidence with a round 1 win and then defeat the Fernando Verdasco/Tommy Haas winner, because both veterans are in poor form. Haas hasn’t been the same player since returning from injury, and Verdasco is struggling but at least of ATP caliber. Raonic is 3-0 on hard courts over Verdasco should reach the third round by virtue of his weak draw.
#18 seed Feliciano Lopez will get a rematch against qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili in his first match, Niko has had a breakthrough season and upset Lopez at Wimbledon this year on the Spaniard’s best surface. With that said, the Cincinnati quarterfinalist and veteran lefty likely finds a way to win and then sends Mardy Fish into retirement in round 2. Fish is playing his final professional matches at the US Open after a summer farewell tour, and the former top 10 American gave Andy Murray a test in Cincinnati after a round 1 win. Even semi-retired his form and talent should be enough to best Marco Cecchinato who is 0-7 in his career in tour level main draw matches. The Italian much prefers clay and Fish should outskill him presuming his body holds up. Lopez with his slice serve should be too much for Mardy if focused however.
Lopez just beat Raonic in Cincinnati, and though it’s hard to predict and likely a close match, I see the veteran doing so once more and bouncing Raonic out earlier than expected. The Canadian #1 simply hasn’t been the same player since foot surgery during the clay court season, and that direct h2h result demonstrates Lopez has an edge right now, their Australian Open meeting this year was also closely contested.
As long as Nishikori is in ok shape and gets past Paire, he should have little trouble against Marsel Ilhan/Radek Stepanek as the veteran Stepanek hasn’t been able to reach a top level since returning from injury. A third round match with the talented but inconsistent Alexandr Dolgopolov could prove trouble however. Dolgo, a semifinalist in Cincy, is a top 20 player when on his game, and will have to deal with Sam Groth and his big serve in the opening round, though he has never lost to Groth (2-0 h2h). I also see him as the favorite over Berrer/Robredo, and I’m going to go out on a limb and pick him over Kei given present physical condition. The reliable and steady Nishikori is 3-0 in the h2h, but I just see Kei disappointing with the pressure on him here. Dolgopolov is one the biggest dark horses in the draw and could catch fire, or bomb out in the opening round. Dolgopolov beat Robredo earlier this year in Miami.
The draw looks open for #19 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to impress. The Frenchman’s first two opponents, the retiring Jarkko Nieminen, and Lukas Lacko/Marcel Granollers are both in poor form, having not played in recent weeks, and the Montreal quarterfinalist should move past Nieminen and Granollers into the third round. There he should meet his fellow highlight reel countryman Gael Monfils. Monfils, who went just 2-2 this summer on hard courts, faces journeyman qualifier Illya Marchenko round 1 and then most likely John Millman, who faces struggling veteran Sergiy Stahovsky in his first match. Millman has been in excellent form on the challenger tour this season and recently, and he’s a quality hard court player, so Monfils could be exposed, but more than likely he conjures up enough talent and focus to reach round 3 before falling to Tsonga, who is in better form on hard courts at the moment.
With Nishikori, Dolgopolov, Monfils, and Tsonga in this section, expect a ton of highlights to come out of it. With that said, Monfils is just 2-5 against Tsonga, though he earned the win in Miami this year.
#7 seed David Ferrer returns to tour from an elbow injury and the 33 year old grinder should see off Radu Albot, who doesn’t have a tour level main draw win this season, though he’s been good at the challenger tour level. Presuming Ferrer is healthy he’s a favorite to reach the fourth round with wins over Filip Krajinovic/qualifier Alejandro Gonzalez in round 2, and likely Jeremy Chardy in round 3. Montreal semifinalist Chardy faces NCAA champ Ryan Shane in round 1, Shane got the wild card but hasn’t done much in pro tennis to suggest he can beat a veteran like Chardy. Chardy will also be the fave against a streaky Martin Klizan. Klizan opens with funky Florian Mayer, a struggling veteran who prefers clay, in the opening round, and though he could beat Chardy, I don’t see Klizan’s form as being a benefit to him. Ferrer is 7-1 in his career against Chardy.
Defending champion Marin Cilic is unlikely to drop a set in the opening round against dirtballing qualifier Guido Pella, and in round 2 against either French young gun Lucas Pouille or qualifier Evgeny Donskoy. Pouille is a talent but prefers clay and Donskoy will have a chance at an upset, however the Washington semifinalist Cilic should have a big enough game to get to round 3. Grigor Dimitrov is a step up in caliber however, and should await the Croatian #1 at that stage. Dimitrov faces journeyman qualifier Matt Ebden in round 1 followed by a likely match with Winston-Salem quaterfinalist Rendy Lu, presuming Lu beats Mikhail Kukushkin round 1. Dimitrov has had a poor season, and he could even be shocked by Lu, with that said, Cilic seems superior to Dimitrov right now in terms of form, and is likely to be more focused, as it has been a wasted season for Dimitrov, who failed to impress this summer. Cilic also has a 1-0 h2h edge.
Presuming Murray gets past Kyrgios he’s unlikely to drop a set into the fourth round. His second round opponent will be either a struggling Adrian Mannarino or in form journeyman qualifier Konstantin Kravchuk, and then #30 seed Thomaz Bellucci is his odds on third round opponent. Bellucci faces slumping James Ward round 1 and then a qualifier, either Paul-Henri Mathieu, a veteran, or Yoshihito Nishioka, a young gun. It’s possible either Mathieu or the speed demon Nishioka could slip into the third round, but the Winston-Salem quarterfinalist Bellucci is an experienced and steady big hitter. Murray, who rapidly improved in form after a shocking early exit in Washington also has a relatively positive early draw and should excel into week 2.
Winston-Salem champ Kevin Anderson is likely to be tested against confident and talented qualifier Andrey Rublev, another of the teenage young guns dotting the draw, Anderson served up to his best over the past week though and should prove too much for Rublev and likely veteran Santiago Giraldo, presuming Giraldo beats American Austin Krajicek. Neither Giraldo or Krajicek are up to the level needed to best Anderson right now, and the South African has snapped a slump, and should reach the fourth round with a solid showing against Dominic Thiem, the struggling #20 seed. Thiem has been poor this summer, but opens with Daniel Gimeno-Traver, a clay court veteran who shows up on hard courts to cash a check, and I also see him finding his way past Denis Istomin, after Istomin beats a struggling Benjamin Becker. Neither Istomin nor Becker are playing well at the moment and Becker has lost four straight. Form and a 2-0 h2h favors Anderson over Thiem to reach the round of 16.
#5 Stan Wawrinka should meet one of the top Americans, Jack Sock, in the third round. Wawrinka, a Cincinnati quarterfinalist, isn’t in the best of form at the moment but he’s known to find himself at the Grand Slam level and should have little trouble against Albert Ramos in round 1, as Ramos prefers clay. In round 2 I don’t expect young gun Hyeon Chung, or James Duckworth, to be able to deal with Wawrinka’s backhand power and with that in mind it should be Wawrinka over Ramos and Chung without dropping a set. Big serving Atlanta semifinalist Gilles Muller isn’t in the best of form, and though the serve and volleying vet should get past challenger level player Ruben Bemelmans in round 1, I see Sock beating him on home soil after he beats Victor Estrella in round 1. The Washington quarterfinalist Sock has had a breakthrough season, but Wawrinka, presuming he can sort out his form should prove to be too much. Wawrinka has been vulnerable in slams, but I don’t see him losing early, unless Muller starts serving lights out and notches a pair of upsets.
#11 Gilles Simon is in a weak section, opening with a struggling Donald Young who he leads the h2h 5-0 with. Simon is a loser of three straight matches and in poor form, and Young upset Tomas Berdych in Montreal, but he’s lost momentum since and Simon should find a steady path given this is a slam. Many people would look to Ernests Gulbis as a potential dark horse in round 2, but Gulbis has suffered two straight bad losses after pushing Novak Djokovic to three sets in the Montreal quarterfinals, and still hasn’t escaped from his horrible season overall. The Latvian hitter has talent, but could well lose to the in-form Aljaz Bedene in round 1, and I have him losing to Simon in round 2. The h2h is 1-1 and Simon is more trustworthy than Gulbis this season. The winner of Tiafoe/Troicki should reach the third round, as neither Rajeev Ram, a veteran serve and volleyer, nor Ryan Harrison are in good form, and I have Tiafoe beat Troicki, and Harrison, just as he did in Winston-Salem, to reach the third round before falling to Simon.
The five-time US Open champion held off Andy Murray and secured the #2 ranking with a victory in Cincinnati, prepared and in-form Roger Federer should dominate his opponents and cruise into the second week. Leonardo Mayer, his first round opponent, pushed Federer to the brink last fall in Shanghai, falling in three sets, but Mayer is 2-3 this Summer and Federer is in much better form. Marcos Baghdatis, a finalist in Atlanta, also has a h2h win over Federer, but Fed leads the overall h2h 7-1 and both Baghdatis and his round 1 opponent Steve Darcis have recently been injured. Hopefully Federer vs. Baghdatis in round 2 produces some quality tennis. Federer could well face Zverev in round 3, if the youngster beats Kohlschreiber an either Lukas Rosol/Jared Donaldson in round 2. Donaldson has a winnable round 1 match and he’s had success this summer as a young gun American teen, I see Rosol winning in round 1, but an upset isn’t out of the question, and I have Zverev beating Rosol before falling to Federer.
American #1 John Isner had a successful Summer that saw capture the title in Atlanta, reach a final in Washington, and the quarterfinals in Montreal. Now rested, the big server should serve his way past Winston-Salem semifinalist Malek Jaziri,and either J.P. Smith or Mikhail Youzhny. The qualifier Smith is in good form and should reach round 2 but Isner has too much game for either of his first two opponents. In round 3 he’s likely to have a tiebreak fest against Ivo Karlovic. Dr. Ivo should see himself past Federico Delbonis and Jiri Vesely in his first two matches, presuming Vesely dispatches veteran clay courter Paolo Lorenzi. Karlovic leads the h2h 3-2 with Isner but at the US Open I give an in-form Isner the edge.
#6 Tomas Berdych has cooled off from his hot start in the spring but the Cincinnati quarterfinalist should hammer past USTA wild card Bjorn Fratangelo, who has had a solid run in challengers but has yet to translate that to the main tour level and is simply at several levels below top 10 players like Berdych. I also see Berdych powering past Denis Kudla, presuming Kudla beats veteran qualifier Jurgen Melzer in round 1. Kudla has had a career year this season and reached the semifinals in Atlanta, but Berdych should have too much power for him presuming his consistency doesn’t fail. Berdych has little chance against the big four right now, but he’s solid enough to make the second week and beat Kudla at the 2013 US Open.
American Sam Querrey has an excellent shot at reaching the third round and posting a positive result on home soil. He’ll open with veteran serve and volleyer Nicolas Mahut and then face the winner of Janko Tipsarevic/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Both veterans have been in poor form this Summer as they try to recover from injuries, and Querrey is the favorite to reach the third round, but fall to Berdych at that stage.
Gasquet/Kokkinakis, likely Gasquet, should get past Dustin Brown/Robin Haase in round 2, neither player is in good form though the highlight worthy Brown has more upside if he catches fire. Gasquet is another player with a favorable draw that should see him into the second week, #24 seed and Bogota champion Bernard Tomic is likely to be his toughest opponent in that path. Tomic opens with undersized baseliner Damir Dzumhur, a 23 year old Bosnian in poor form, and then should move past the retiring Lleyton Hewitt, who is playing his final US Open. Tomic is inconsistent, but superior to either his veteran countryman Hewitt, or Aleksandr Nedovyesov, Hewitt’s round 1 opponent. The 2001 US Open champion will be sorely missed after he plays his final match. Gasquet is 5-1 against Tomic in the h2h and in better form.
Dark Horses (one for each quarter of the draw): Borna Coric, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Gilles Muller, Thanasi Kokkinakis
If the talented Coric can beat Rafa twice in two years, he’ll have a path that that could see him reach the second week, and possibly as far as the quarterfinals. It’s a tough ask for a young player, but Coric is quite confident in himself and has the varied power game that can produce results. He beat Andy Murray this year as well.
I have the streaky Dolgopolov reaching the fourth round, and he could also go as far as the quarters, he’s not seeded but he has the talent to be, and if Nishikori slips up he should take advantage. The Ukrainian speedster is a deceptive shotmaker and demonstrated his peak abilities when he reached the Cincy semis and took a set off of Novak Djokovic. Like Coric, he’s proven the ability to challenge the game’s best.
Muller would need to get past Sock, but the big server has a reliable game an his crisp volleys could frustrate Wawrinka and result in an upset. I don’t see it happening personally but the veteran is known to perform well in Grand Slams.
The bottom section has a relative dearth of dark horses, and Kokkinakis form doesn’t suggest that he’ll get past Gasquet in the first round but he’s not lacking in ability, and if he shocks Gasquet and gets past Tomic he’ll be in the second week.
Week 1 Predictions (round of 16 matchups)
Djokovic d. Goffin
Goffin gave it his all and nearly upset Djokovic in Cincinnati but failing to do there, I don’t see it happening in best of five sets barring some type of injury. Djokovic is simply a superior ball striker and has far more weapons.
Nadal d. Lopez
Lopez has won his last two meetings against Rafa, including a couple of weeks ago in Cincy, but that match was quite close, and I don’t trust Lopez in the mental department in best of five sets against his fellow Spanish lefty. Lopez could win this but I trust Nadal to find a way to reach the quarters given this is a Grand Slam.
Dolgopolov d. Tsonga
Dolgo is 2-0 on outdoor hard against Tsonga, and with the Frenchman’s recent form in question I see Dolgopolov peaking and reaching the quarterfinals.
Cilic d. Ferrer
Ferrer has a h2h edge but the elbow injury makes me go with Cilic, especially at the US Open. A healthy Ferrer probably beats Cilic, but I’m not sure he’ll be quite up to form right now.
Wawrinka dominated Simon this year on clay, and given Simon’s poor recent form, if Stan pulls his game together he’s a heavy favorite to reach the quarterfinals.
Murray d. Anderson
Murray has a pair of h2h wins over Anderson this year and dominates the h2h overall, given his current form and style of play, one of the best returners in the game should beat one of the best servers.
Berdych d. Gasquet
Berdych has won his last three matches against Gasquet, including two wins this season. Gasquet may well be in better form, but I have to go with the consistent Berdych to reach the quarters.
Federer d. Isner
The world #2 is 3-0 on hard courts against Isner, and though an in-form Isner may challenge Federer and push him to tiebreaks, with the way Federer has played this summer you have to make him the favorite at this stage.
Picking the rest of the way
Djokovic d. Nadal
Cilic d. Dolgopolov
Murray d. Wawrinka
Federer d. Berdych
Djokovic is simply a better player than Rafa right now, especially on a hard court, and the same goes for Federer as he always dominates Berdych these days, with both of the top seeds appearing favorites for the semifinals.
Murray leads the h2h with Wawrinka by a close 8-6 and Wawrinka has won the last two meetings, including at the 2013 US Open. Wawrinka could well end Murray’s quest at a second US Open, and a first Grand Slam title this season but Andy is in some of the best form of his career and I see him reaching the semis.
Regardless of who he faces in the quarters, Ferrer’s elbow injury should help Cilic defend a large amount of his points from last season, and I see him getting past Dolgopolov, Tsonga, or Monfils.
Semis: Djokovic d. Cilic
Murray d. Federer
Djokovic shouldn’t be stopped in his quest for the final, and he consistently defeats Cilic. Murray has lost his last five meetings against Federer, including two this season and a match in Cincy, but they constantly play close and competitive tennis, and in best of five, a fit and fresh Murray at the US Open should pull off a minor upset in the battle for world #2.
Final: Djokovic d. Murray
Djokovic is the worlds best player in hard court tennis at the moment, and though he fell to Murray in a competitive Montreal final, he’s consistently been able to outwork and disarm the UK #1 when they meet at Grand Slams. Djokovic isn’t a lock for the title, but he’s a strong favorite.
It was title #4 for home hero Andy Murray at London Queens as he pulled double duty and won a pair of matches on Sunday to earn the trophy. Murray won the final 6-3 6-4 over Kevin Anderson. Though Anderson was strong on serve, he had nothing to trouble Murray on the return, and Murray got the breaks he needed for a routine win. Previously in the day, the British #1 defeated Viktor Troicki 6-3 7-6. Troicki, who was in good form, was tied at 3-3 in the first set before rain came on Saturday, delaying the match, and he lost three straight games on the trot, before recovering to challenge Murray in a tight second set, the tiebreak ending 7-4.
Murray, who has had an excellent season and now has three titles, with trophies on both grass and clay, will enter Wimbledon as a co-favorite after defeating Rendy Lu, and Fernando Verdasco without dropping a set, and Gilles Muller in three sets, from a set down, before the semifinal against Troicki. Muller dispatched defending champion Grigor Dimitrov in round 2 without dropping a set.
Anderson survived going down a set and a break against Lleyton Hewitt, as he clawed back to win in three sets in round 1. Big Kev used that big win as a springboard to upset Stan Wawrinka in two tiebreaks, and then Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straights, and Gilles Simon in three sets in the semis. When his game is clicking, he’s a great player, and this week the South African was firing his serve and his forehand on point.
Look for a report on the doubles tournament from Joe Craven coming soon!
Murray’s 4 titles at Queens pale in comparison to the domination Roger Federer has found in Halle, as he the Swiss legend claimed his 8th title at the German grass court venue with a 7-6 6-4 win over Andreas Seppi. Seppi couldn’t upset Federer like he did in Australia, though he put up a good effort, and he’s struggled to get over the title hump in a topsy turvy 2015.
The Swiss maestro was match points down against Philipp Kohlschreiber in round 1, but survived in a third set tiebreak, as Kohli’s serve failed him under pressure, and his groundstrokes soon followed with Federer’s stern responses on the ground. Federer would go on to defeat Ernests Gulbis, and funky Florian Mayer without dropping a set, and in the semis he survived Ivo Karlovic, while barely winning any points on Dr. Ivo’s serve, only taking the advantage when needed in a pair of tiebreaks. Karlovic doctored his way past Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
Seppi scored some big wins this week, as he defeated veterans Tommy Haas and Tommy Robredo, the first in straights, and the second in three sets, and then got retirement wins over Gael Monfils, and Kei Nishikori, who both pulled out mid-match as precautionary moves before Wimbledon. The Italian veteran truly has a diverse all-court game.
Zverev, Tomic reach Quarterfinals @Mercedescup ATP Stuttgart 2015 Thursday Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Nadal-Baghdatis went 3 sets (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
It’s the sixth day of this year’s ATP Stuttgart tournament and it was another hot day after quite a while. Not only the weather was perfect, today’s schedule was very interesting as we saw Nadal’s first appearance on the Center Court in a singlels match, along with Marin Cilic. The veteran Tommy Haas played his second match against Bernard Tomic who’s finding his form for grass and Mischa Zverev, upset Andreas Seppi. Zverev previously had a promising career that was derailed.
Thursday 2nd round matches
Everyone expected the name Zverev on today’s schedule here, but it’s more surprising Mischa was the one who played. Getting support from his whole family in the box, Mischa Zverev started perfectly. He kept in the long rallies both were playing and Seppi with his variation in shots just let the German move, but Zverev wanted these long rallies to as he was waiting for errors the Italian hit when he tried for winners. Zverev especially moved very well on the baseline and on grass overall, giving the Italian a small margin for error on his shots. The German played very defensively and didn’t approach to the net, knowing Seppi’s strength with passing shots.
Zverev is talented on grass (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
As the match went on, the South Tyrolean got more passive and stayed behind the baseline. He tried to build up the points from behind to finish them aggressively at the net. Zverev realized this and the rallies became longer. Zverev sliced the ball almost always in the break service games he won twice. The German had a perfect start with the double break and held his service games to win the first set. He served very well and tried to avoid playing on the Italian’s forehand since he hit some awesome forehand cross winners on the line. However, the more defensive Seppi got the his shots became, Zverev could have decided the games earlier with some risky forehands, but he preferred to stay in the rally and waited for a Seppi error. The returns were another crucial advantage for Zverev. Seppi couldn’t serve very well today, so Zverev could read his serves and hit some great returns. Whereas Seppi couldn’t manage Zverev’s hard serves and its variation. Seppi could hold his serve twice in the first set, but didn’t have any chance to break him, as long as Zverev even played very good serve-and-volley at his last service game of the set. He served too consistently well and benefited from Seppi’s UE at the end too.
Second set started better for Seppi, he started to serve better and Zverev was more expectant, not as aggressive and effective as the first set. Zverev focused at the beginning more on his service games, approached more often to the net and Seppi had his chances for passing shot winners he sometimes was successful with, but Zverev was really powerful and it was difficult for Seppi to control the ball and massage it. However, Zverev let Seppi’s service games slide and he got much stronger. His groundgame shots were more on point, and his game began to have more depth, on the other side Zverev couldn’t hold his high level of returning he had in the first set. Both players showed no signs of breaking before a tiebreak. Suddenly Zverev tried to hit more top spin and Seppi more slice, in contrast to the first set, and Seppi’s slice shots were a real threat for the German.. Slice shots were a great choice as the court was very fast and had a low bounce, a good slice causes many problems for both with its low bounce.
After his period of weakness Zverev started to return more aggressively and the Italian had problems again with his serve, the German had two breakpoints. He started to play again with a real big depth causing Seppi more problems. A backhand down the line went out and after a long rally. Zverev stayed in the rally, varied with short slice and long forehands to the line. Another backhand UE into the net bestowed the break on the German and he served it out to win it in two sets, 6-2 6-4.
Another German who had hopes to get into quarterfinals was Tommy Haas in his second match after his comeback. He was the underdog against the in Stuttgart born Australian Bernard Tomic and had the problems with his serve. He couldn’t serve very well, rather very slow (1st service with an average speed of 155 km/h) and was easy to return for Tomic. Haas won the points due to good rallies and UE Tomic committed. The German veteran had many problems, when Tomic played the balls very long to the baseline and wasn’t able to return them properly. Besides the UE’s Haas hit some great winners, especially fine tuned volleys. The Australian stayed behind the baseline, waited more during rallies and suddenly hit a winner, while Haas had problems with his shoulder to keep up his offensive game. His returns were just so-so and Tomic held with ease his serves in the first set. The German was often too slow to react to Tomic’s whipped serves until the tiebreak. Haas moves very well on grass, Tomic waited for his shots, but Haas wasn’t that patient and committed hasty errors with many forehand UE.
Tomic in action (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The 1st set breaker began with a good cross-court rally and very beautifully finished with a backhand down-the-line shot for Tomic. The young gun won the first mini-break with another backhand down-the-line winner, just to hit a too long forehand afterwards. Tomic was the more aggressive player now in the breaker and wanted to finish it off quickly, but the backhand missed the line and Haas got the first set point on his serve. Haas applied his good serve-and-volley, but Tomic’s down-the-line passing shot was just too good for the veteran. At 8-7 Haas served again, but after a weak return Haas committed the next forehand UE.
Just like in second set’s tiebreaker Haas can’t level up his game again and had too many UE, hitting poorly with forehands. His game wasn’t up and he couldn’t get off his unforced errors. He went too early on winners, just like in the return game after his serve and missed quite a few. On return, Tomic raised his level taking an overwhelming 0-40 advantage. Haas served well then until 30-40, then Tomic and Haas played a long slice rally. Bernie’s backhand slice cross court was in, touching the line, but someone from the crowd shouted very loudly ‘out’ and Haas thought a linesman called it out. After a long discussion which lasted around three minutes, the hawkeye demonstrated the ball went in. Leading with double-break Bernie served the match out. The big hitter and big server won the match in two sets without facing any breakpoint and converted his fourth match point for a 7-6(6), 6-2 score line.
14 time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal next took to center court. Nadal began the match a little bit rusty and wasn’t moving well at all, allowing Baghdatis to get an early break. After he lost his serve Nadal couldn’t raise his level, the Cypriot even had three break points for the double break, that he didn’t convert. Nadal’s backhand saved him the service game and could break him after his held serve with ease due to Baghdatis’ unforced errors. Nadal started to move better on grass and to adapt his game to the surface, adjusting from clay, his favorite surface. After he survived another three break points and saved two because of good serving, he really took the control of the match and approached more often to the net. Nadal returned very well, but he still hasn’t the feeling for the right shot selection before the breaker and his forehand lacking is something which is a big flaw for his game right now. Nadal won the first mini-breaks with an incredible backhand down-the-line lob winner as Baghdatis served and volleyed very well, but the Spaniard could reach the ball yet. Though he lost the mini-breaks again, the lefty was lucky Baghdatis’ backhand down-the-line shot went out and served the breaker out.
In the second set Nadal broke him because of forced errors Baghdatis committed, but the Cypriot could re-break him again and was still in the match. His backhand failed three times, and the forehand UE into the net ended the service game. Nadal’s forehand still missed at important points the lines it had to or his forehand landed in the net. He moved well after a while, especially on the baseline, but was maybe a bit too fast reaching balls and thought too much about what to do. Nadal’s forehand was shaky overall, he didn’t have the full control, but his backhand and net approaches were really nice and he had the right feeling when to move forward to the net.
Rafa (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Baghdatis played well, but couldn’t move that well to cover the whole court for Nadal’s shots. His slice shots were really threatening for Nadal, as he doesn’t like to put his whole weight on his knees I reckon. Marcos returned very well and could read Nadal’s serve like in the breaker which had to decide the set again. Nadal played better again at the beginning than before, but Baghdatis returned too well twice at 5-4 and the Spaniard committed once again two UE with his forehand.
In the third set Marcos started to serve very well, yet lost his concentration already at the second service game. Nadal started to return very much better. A return on the line gave him the break and another good return and good shot on the line ended the match. Nadal played better in the third set, served quite well and his serve-and-volley worked, Marcos lost his concentration and ran out of gas. All in all a deserved win for Nadal after the third set, could have lost the match in two if Baghdatis would have been more clutch. Furthermore, Nadal looked a bit unsure on grass at the beginning, but won confidence game by game. Everybody was kind of surprised of the tiebreak Nadal lost, also because of two good but lucky (i.e. close) returns which were very long. His game got deeper and his good shot-selection in the 3rd set he didn’t have was the key for a good relaxed last set. Nadal wins 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2.
Marin Cilic defeated Matthias Bachinger 7-6 (2), 6-3. The Croat practiced his serve a lot today and was on point serving after he got broken in the middle of the set. It was a very nervous start, many unforced errors, but as Bachinger served for the set Cilic returned too well and dominated the rallies. Even in the breaker Cilic was too dominant and could return Bachinger’s serves very well, though he ran back and forth. Bachinger could hold Cilic’s pace, but just reacted and Cilic hit a winner at the end of a rally. Cilic returned very well again the second set and could break him after really beautiful rallies both could stand out. Cilic’s power and depth triggered the home German to start cramping after the first set. However, all in all he played a really good match today given his ranking. Cilic needed his backhand to click. Bachinger played a great tournament. If he gets the consistency he can certainly qualify for the next tournaments including Wimbledon.
Tomic Back in the Groove, Coric Shelled Tuesday at ATP Stuttgart 2015 Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Tomic back in the groove (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
It was the fourth day of this year’s ATP Stuttgart tournament and it was the coldest and windiest day yet. It’s always the worst what can happen here in Germany in terms of weather, with dark clouds, strong winds, and no rain: A winter day during summer. Many players had problems today, especially muscular problems. We witnessed the first retirement in a main draw match and many tennis players moving poorly. Conditions were a challenge today, but matches were completed in full.
Difficult wind created the highest amount of unforced errors per match today, yet very beautiful winners which were powered by the wind. Even in the press centre it was quite cold. In the cold, fans gathered around Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils and Dustin Brown seeking an interaction with their favorites. Nadal had to call the security team to get through the crowds, when he played doubles with Feliciano Lopez.
Main Draw Round 1
The schedule looked promising on Tuesday, especially for the German crowd. as German was featured in 8 out of 11 matches. Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki led off the day.
Borna Coric’s father was quite optimistic this could be the day he wins his first match on grass, before the match began. With Croatian journalists in the stands Borna just absolutely disappointed his countrymen and couldn’t end his negative run of four losses in a row on grass (0-4 career record). His first service game looked promising, though he had problems holding it. He still doesn’t know how to move on grass and gets too passive during rallies. Troicki was the way more aggressive player and hit some great winners, but some funny unforced errors. While the beginning of the first set was competitive, Borna lost his second serve with a fight, it seemed he wasn’t up for the match entirely. The second serve game he lost was on him and Troicki didn’t even have to play well.
The second set was just pathetic, Coric only won nine points out of 36 and just won a lone return point during the whole set. I stopped watching it after the first break which was very hard-fought (three times deuce) and Troicki won it a few minutes later. Troicki’s forehand didn’t look that bad at all, in contrary to Coric’s which can’t be even called a weapon. Given he’s a young gun, Coric will have the time to develop his game on grass, but in the present day Troicki rolled 6-2 6-0 in a blowout.
Jan-Lennard Struff struggled on the day, though he offered some great forehand-shots and even nicer volleys. Bernard Tomic was out of his league, he offered up great variation in his serve and delivered what he needed, to win, throwing in some great winners. The first set was very one-sided, Tomic won the very first game which was a break to love and broke him at the end of the first set again. However, like is often the case with his matches. Bernie wasn’t consistent enough to close out the match routinely, leading a set and a break ahead.
Struff started to hit one good return after another, and dictate the rallies – He almost always won the point at the net and almost always lost the points on longer rallies, as he hit many forehand unforced errors under pressure. After Tomic broke his serve with a fantastic forehand down-the-line winner, he immediately was broken bakc after serving two double faults and committing a very easy backhand ue after a poor return. The set built up its tension because of the fact both served very well till the second set breaker, when the Borussia Dortmund-fan suddenly led 3-0. Two long forehands later, and Tomic took a decisive advantage, eventually closing out the breaker 7-5 for a 6-3 7-6 victory. Tomic’s game looked quite sharp today, although there was room for improvement. Bernie has to face now another German he lost to in Halle three years ago, Tommy Haas.
Another German moving on here is Mischa Zverev who’s showing great grass tennis as a veteran. The underrated grass specialist had many problems at the beginning against Dominic Thiem and lost even his serve, but he managed to catch himself and rebroke, converting his first break point of the match. As the match progressed, both started to serve better and the breaker had to decide the set. After three consecutive mini-breaks Zverev held his serve to get set point and Thiem failed to save another set point, as he didn’t serve well under pressure. Zverev looked fresher, though he played every day in the last three days, and could break him again. Thiem broke himself with a lot of unnecessary errors. The German served well in set 2, broke Thiem again returning and moving very well to hit one forehand after another in his last service game to close the match 7-6 6-2.
Marcos Baghdatis vs. Lukas Rosol looked like a great match on paper, but Rosol played poorly on the outer court. Baghdatis lost the first game and his serve, but Rosol couldn’t maintain the advantage and ended up losing the first set with a double break. Rosol moved poorly and showed signs of rust. He didn’t have the fortune to trust in his first serve, it was either too long or into the net in big moments and Baghdatis even started to return well when given the chance. The veteran Baghdatis had very good and strong groundstrokes, made Rosol run, and in this way the Cypriot hit many winners. His form looked excellent, throwback in a way and could have some great results in the next week overall like today where he won 6-3 6-4. Depending on Rafael Nadal’s form on the day he could come even through in their match.
Baghdatis was smooth in Stuttgart (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Benjamin Becker came back to Germany in good form after some wins at Roland Garros, and was excited to start the grass court season, his best surface, but unfortunately the shoulder-problem he had in Paris discomforted him again and he was in pain. Therefore he slumped in defeat against Andreas Seppi. After the first set he asked for a medical timeout and it went better afterwards. He held twice his serve, and he had signs of a comeback, but after Seppi served again his should flaired up once more. The German let the match slide and wants to focus now on getting completely recovered again. Wish you all the best, Benjamin, and a speedy recovery! Seppi defeated injured Becker 6-1, 6-2.
Similar to Becker Sergiy Stakhovsky had medical problems against Sam Groth. The first set Stakhovsky won with a classic grass court serve and volley game, often chipping and charging with brilliant volley winners. Groth, famous for his fastest serve ever recorded at a Challenger in South Korea, served again very well, but was too slow to reach Stakhovsky’s volleys. Especially the second serves were attacked by Stako, till the Australian let off steam and yelled
“he always gets my 2nd serve” after 0-30, *3-5 in the first set. Bit by bit Stakhovsky started to play more passively and gave Groth some opportunities at the net that he could approach.
Groth and Stakhovsky volleyed away (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Nothing changed in the second set and Stakhovsky’s serve lessened in effectiveness, he had to save seven break points in the second set alone, as Groth wasn’t always attentive at his chances. On the eight break point chance in set 2, a set point as well, Groth finally won it. Stako lost his serve at the beginning of the third set, and then retired 5-3 down in the third. At the end his serves were a shadow of the his serving in the 1st set, so Groth won it 4-6, 7-5, 5-3. Wish you a speedy recovery as well, Stako!
Matthias Bachinger again displayed great tennis against Peter Gojowczyk. Gojo dictated with his forehand in very good rallies and the Bavarian Bachinger ran left and right to get the balls. Both were serve-and-volleying very well and little things decided this match. One of these things was Bachinger’s fighting spirit, and his poison slices which were a hazard for Gojowczyk. He committed unforced errors and many forehands landed at the net after Bachinger’s slices.
Bachinger was very clutch on important points and didn’t give up any game. Gojowczyk was leading in his last service game in before a theoretical breaker 40-0, but many forehand unforced errors and an incredible forehand smash into the net after a long slice-rally and a well played lob gave Bachinger a break. The Bavarian served the match out, just like in the first set he did after winning the break and will face #2 seed Marin Cilic. Bachingers win was 7-5 7-5.
Alexander Zverev was the better player against Mate Pavic and deservedly won after losing the first set 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. It was a bad start at the beginning facing a break point, and he eventually got broken and lost the first set. In the second set the young German improved his serve on break points, and his forehand was very sharp against Pavic, who likes to attack at the net with his backhand volley. Zverev was aware of that and could read his serve-and-volleys, as he stood meters behind the baseline and didn’t give Pavic many free points.. All in all Zverev played with a very good strategy and kept his head cool, against a nervous Pavic. He finally won the match with a very strong forehand triggering a Pavic error.
Both Zverev brothers advanced on the day (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The old German master Tommy Haas returned finally to the tour! His win over Mikhail Kukushkin was a graet match, based on good serve and offensive forehands. Kukushkin didn’t have any clue how to react and it says a lot about his tennis on grass when he gets dominated by the rusty Haas. In the second set Haas lost his rhythm and started to gift Kukushkin games he never would have been able to win. Giving that Kukushkin at the end couldn’t hold the break and Haas was able to raise his level again to finished it in two 6-4 7-5.
The last German who played today, Dustin Brown lost in three to Jerzy Janowicz. Both were rock solid on serve, and Brown lost some points due to easy unforced errors he hit. The first set went quickly as Dreddy took it in a tiebreak but Janowicz was able to break him in the second and third sets, while Brown wasn’t able to convert break points. Janowicz completed the comeback 6-7 6-4 6-3. It was still a successful tournament for Brown as he qualified for an ATP event for the first time since Munich.
Janowicz vs. Brown was a quick match (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
In the other singles match on the day, Andreas Haider-Maurer dashed the hopes of young German wild card Max Marterer 7-6 6-3.
Tuesday Doubles Scores
Lopez/Nadal d. Junaid/Shamasdin 7-6 6-2
Cabal/Farah d. Rosol/Thiem 7-6 7-6
Matkowski/Zimonjic d. Monfils/Simon 6-3 6-4