2018 ATP Buenos Aires Preview and Predictions: Dominic Thiem and Fabio Fognini Among the Favorites Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Golden Swing continues with a 250 level clay court stop in Buenos Aires. Dominic Thiem and Fabio Fognini are among the favorites as some of the ATP’s best descend on Argentina. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
Austria’s Dominic Thiem is a heavy favorite to take the title as the #1 seed. He’ll face either home favorite Horacio Zeballos or qualifier Marco Cecchinato. I have Thiem against Argentina’s Guido Pella in the quarters, Pella’s path is Nicolas Kicker, followed by Fernando Verdasco or Quito semifinalist Thiago Monteiro. Thiem over Pella is my choice at that stage.
Italian Fabio Fognini should be good enough to defeat Leonardo Mayer or Rogerio Dutra Silva before facing fellow veteran Gael Monfils in the quarters. Monfils needs to defeat the seeded Pablo Cuevas, then Dusan Lajovic or qualifier Facundo Bagnis. Monfils wasn’t lights out in Quito, but Cuevas is struggling, thus it should be Fognini over Monfils in the quarters.
Pablo Carreno Busta struggled in Quito and will look to get back on track here. PCB will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Carlos Berlocq in the second round and I have him as the favorite. Kyle Edmund had his breakthrough at the Australian Open, but he’s historically been poor on clay. Edmund faces Quito champion Roberto Carballes Baena in round 1, Federico Delbonis/Florian Mayer will follow. I have Delbonis falling to Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals.
Diego Schwartzman, a home hero, faces Andreas Haider-Maurer, he’ll get Pedro Cachin or qualifier Thomaz Bellucci in round 2. Quito finalist Albert Ramos will face Jiri Vesely or Aljaz Bedene. Bedene has some great potential this tournament and I have him beating Vesely and the tired Ramos to reach the quarters. Schwartzman is my pick to reach the semis.
2017 ATP Buenos Aires Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP Golden Swing rolls on with a 250 level stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The South American nation has contributed a lot to the rich landscape of men’s tennis, and now its time to celebrate Argentinian tennis for a week in its capital. Here is your preview, with predictions.
ATP World Tour 250
February 13-19, 2017
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Prize Money: $546,680
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Kei Nishikori (5)
2: Pablo Cuevas (20)
3: David Ferrer (25)
4: Pablo Carreno Busta (26)
The Argentina Open has one top tier star competing against a host of the ATP World Tour’s best dirtballers.
First round matches to watch:
Victor Estrella vs. Thiago Monteiro
36 year old Victor Estrella comes off a third straight Quito title and has started the season in good form, while young Brazilian Thiago Monteiro has lost three straight. The 22 year old is fresher, and no slouch on clay, but Estrella’s grinding should give him an edge in this matchup, as long as he can recover.
Tommy Robredo vs. (7)Fabio Fognini
The h2h between these veterans is split 4-4, but Fognini, a hero in Davis Cup for Italy, is likely the better player in this matchup. Robredo is returning to tour from injury, at Age 34 he’s making his 2017 debut, after focusing on the Challenger tour to recover his ranking and form in 2016. Robredo was once a top clay court player, and he could upset Fognini, but if the Italian hones in he should be able to slap forehand winners on the way to victory.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. (WC)Janko Tipsarevic
This pair have never met on clay, and split hard court meetings 1-1. Dolgopolov has continued his miserable form, he dropped a match to serve and volleyer Rajeev Ram on Quito’s clay. Tipsarevic lost in round 2 of Quito, but still looks to be playing better, and has a great shot at a quality tour win in this one.
Kei Nishikori is 28-7 on clay over the last two seasons, and as the top seed a lot of pressure is on him to perform well in Buenos Aires, where he is playing for the second time in his career. His first match will be against an Argentine, either Diego Schwartzman or Facundo Bagnis. DSS leads Bagnis 3-1 in the h2h, so Nishikori over Schwartzman is the likely path to the quarters for Kei, who has started the season 6-2. Federico Delbonis was 16-8 on clay last year, and has a clear advantage to reach the quarterfinals with wins over a struggling Stephane Robert, and Horacio Zeballos or Joao Sousa. Sousa isn’t quite as good on clay as Delbonis, but Nishikori represents a much stronger challenge. Presuming the Japanese #1 is motivated, Nishikori is the semifinal favorite.
The Fognini/Robredo winner should be favored over a tired Estrella or Monteiro in round 2. In the quarterfinals I have it Fabio Fognini vs. David Ferrer. Ferrer, despite having a poor season last year, and struggling to start this year by his usual standards, was still 15-7 on clay in 2016, is a 3-time champion in BA, and is simply better than Carlos Berlocq or a qualifier. Ferrer is 11-0 against Fognini, with that kind of h2h in his favor, Ferrer should be the semifinalist opposite Nishikori/Delbonis.
Pablo Cuevas and Paolo Lorenzi, the two seeds at the bottom of the draw, are clear favorites to face off in the quarterfinals. Cuevas was 21-8 on clay last year and is better on the surface than the Dolgopolov/Tipsarevic winner he opens with. Lorenzi faces off with Gerald Melzer, Melzer isn’t bad on clay, while Lorenzi just lost a hard fought Quito final. Fatigue could be a factor, but the grinding Italian veteran should reach round 2 to face Renzo Olivo or a qualifier. Olivo is solid on clay as well, and playing on home dirt, but I still think Lorenzi is the better ATP player (3-0 h2h) and will prevail. Cuevas leads Lorenzi 5-0 in the h2h, and should be fresher, making him the semifinal favorite.
Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos look set to create an all-Spanish quarterfinal between sometime doubles partners, presuming PCB defeats a qualifier, and Ramos defeats Guido Pella and the winner of Leonardo Mayer/Gastao Elias. Pella is struggling, while Ramos comes off semis in Quito. Mayer hasn’t played as much on tour recently, but he’ll have home court advantage against Elias, a journeyman Portugese player who has hung around the fringes of ATP main draws for a bit now. PCB picked up a win over Ramos last year, he’s starting his season on clay after going 20-12 last season on the surface. I have PCB facing Cuevas in the semifinals.
Of the non-seeded players, the streaky Delbonis may be the most dangerous on clay. He’ll have home fans behind him, and Nishikori could falter if he’s not focused in this 250. If Delbonis can slay Nishikori, he has a shot at taking this title at home.
Semis Nishikori d. Ferrer
Carreno Busta d. Cuevas
Nishikori has won six of his last seven matches against Ferrer and has only gotten better since they last met. PCB vs. Cuevas is hard to call, Cuevas leads the h2h 3-2, but PCB may be in slightly better form, I’ll go with the Spaniard, either way we would see a Pablo in the final.
Final Nishikori d. Carreno Busta
This pair have never met, Nishikori is an elite player though, and although he’s not an elite clay courter, he’s still great on the surface and with his movement and steady groundstrokes, not easy to defeat on this surface. He should outmuscle allcomers and take this 250 title.
2016 ATP Buenos Aires Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Golden swing in South America rolls on with Argentina’s only ATP tournament, the 250 level Argentina Open.
ATP World Tour 250
February 8-14, 2016
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Prize Money: $523,470
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Rafael Nadal (5)
2: David Ferrer (6)
3: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9)
4: John Isner (12)
The Argentina Open has one of its strongest fields with three top 10 players, and a seed cutoff at #35.
First round matchups to watch:
Juan Monaco vs. (Q)Marco Cecchinato
The 2007 champion Juan Monaco is playing his first match back from a serious wrist injury last summer, and he’ll open with the Italian qualifier Marco Cecchinato. Cecchinato is trying to move to the ATP level, and they both have a history of success on clay. Depending on his level of rust, Monaco could rally with the home crowd and earn a win.
Paolo Lorenzi vs. Pablo Andujar
Lorenzi and Andujar have played eight times on clay, and the h2h is deadlocked at 4-4. Lorenzi is 7-2 over his past two clay court tournaments, while the spin maestro Andujar has to be happy to return to clay. Lorenzi could be fatigued, and thus Andujar is likely a slight favorite.
(5)Dominic Thiem vs. Pablo Carreno Busta
Thiem won a three setter over PCB last year, and this should be a good tournament for him. He continues to rise up the rankings, and he’ll also be pleased to be on clay. PCB comes off the semis in Quito, and this one could also go three sets.
Fognini won a third set tiebreaker in a clay court match against Delbonis last year that was an absolute thriller in Rio. Both are capable of great clay court tennis, and Delbonis will have home support. Fognini is higher ranked, and could well make a run in this tournament, though the outcome is up in the air.
Rafael Nadal’s six losses on clay last season were his most since 2003, and he’ll look to get back into form as the king of clay in Buenos Aires. Nadal will open with Cecchinato, or his good friend Monaco, in round 2, with most likely Alexandr Dolgopolov to follow in the quarterfinals. Dolgo opens with 23 year old Diego Schwartzman, with Lorenzi/Andujar to follow. He’s a bit streaky on clay, but he has the talent to get into the quarters. Nadal should have a relatively smooth path to the semifinals, though an upset is possible given his decline these days.
John Isner opted to play in South America on clay, and he’ll have a tough opening match with Fernando Verdasco most likely, though Verdasco first has to defeat Dusan Lajovic. Lajovic has a h2h win on clay over Verdasco, who lost his first match in Quito. Verdasco’s inconsistency this season could be Isner’s gain, he’s had a positive record on clay over the last few seasons.
Thiem/Carreno Busta are likely to meet Isner/Verdasco in the quarters. Qualifier Gastao Elias, or Daniel Munoz De La Nava are the alternative, Elias has been in good form as of late with a couple of challenger quarterfinals, though Thiem likely gets through, and then defeats Isner to reach the semis. Thiem beat Isner on clay in Nice last season.
David Ferrer was 19-5 on clay last season, and has three previous Buenos Aires titles on his resume. Ferrer will open with an Argentine, either Renzo Olivo or Facundo Bagnis. Bagnis has two challenger titles and a semifinal on clay already this season, Olivo reached the quarters in Quito and also has been in good form. Bagnis h2h edge makes him a slight favorite, but I’m going with Olivo vs. Ferrer, and then Ferrer into the quarterfinals.
#8 seed Pablo Cuevas is the favorite to reach the quarters and face Ferrer from his section. Cuevas has a h2h loss to his round 1 opponent Albert Ramos, a Quito semifinalist, but he should be fresher than his opponent and advance to face Santiago Giraldo. Giraldo had a negative record on clay last year, and needs improvement this season. Ferrer is 2-0 against Cuevas, and 5-0 against Ramos, making him a clear favorite for the semifinals.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is 5-2 in 2016, and posted a 10-5 record on clay last season. Like Ferrer, he has an Argentine in his opening match, either the veteran Leonardo Mayer, or Guido Pella. Mayer can be a troublesome opponent, but Tsonga is likely to reach the quarterfinals. Fognini/Delbonis will face Nicolas Almagro in round 2, Almagro has been struggling in 2016. Tsonga vs. Fognini should be a cracking match, Tsonga has a 4-0 h2h edge, and thus Ferrer vs. Tsonga in the semis is a possible outcome.
Delbonis has to get past Fognini, but if he does, he could make a run that will ignite the home crowd, potentially reaching the quarterfinals and beyond. Delbonis has a fantastic career record on clay, and continues to improve his ATP game. He also has an ATP title on clay (Sao Paulo 2014).
Semis: Nadal d. Thiem
Ferrer d. Tsonga
Nadal beat Thiem a couple of years ago on clay, this match should be a much closer encounter, but Nadal’s experience and skill on the surface still make him a tournament favorite. Ferrer has beaten Tsonga twice on clay, and in South America he should have an edge.
Final: Nadal d. Ferrer
Nadal has won his last three meetings against Ferrer, and though it could be a close contest, Rafa is the favorite.