Rosol, Dzumhur, and Groth Pencil Themselves in as ATP Qualifiers This Week in Geneva and Nice
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
Following its 24-year absence from the ATP Tour, the Geneva Open in Switzerland will finally return to the main stage of the ATP Calendar this week. Headlined by one of their national sporting stars, Stan Wawrinka, the tournament will feature five top 50 players (Stan Wawrinka, Marin Čilić, Pablo Andújar, Benjamin Becker and Andreas Haider-Maurer).
During the qualifying rounds of the event, 7 out of the 8 seeded players reached the final round of competition. The only exception to the solid run by the seeded players was 20-year-old Pedro Cachín (7) who was knocked out in round two by Swiss player Yann Marti. The world No:313 also produced a solid win over Filip Krajinovic (No:101) in the first round of the Aix en Provence Challenger in France earlier this month. In the final round the Swiss player faced second seed Lukas Rosol. Rosol’s route to the final consisted of a surprisingly tough three sets win over world No:465 Laurent Rochette and then a straight sets win over Gleb Alekseenko from Ukraine. In the final round the Czech player experienced little trouble against Marti as he eased his way to a 6-3, 6-2, win. So far during the clay court season this year Rosol has produced back to back ATP World Tour quarter-final appearances in Bucharest, Romania and Munich, Germany.
Adrian Mannarino enjoyed a straightforward run during his qualifying bid. After receiving a first round bye, the Frenchman produced a straight sets win over Miki Janković to face Somdev Devvarman in the final round. Mannarino, who has won at least one match at the last seven Grand Slams, encountered a tricky first set before he cruised to a 7-5, 6-1, win. During the first Set the world No:29 opened up a 4-2 lead before Devvarman battled back to level it up. The spirited fight back by the Indian was however short lived as he was broken once more as Mannarino took the first set. Then Into the second set the Frenchman was too strong as he won four consecutive games on his way to booking his place into the main draw.
2009 Wimbledon boys champion Andrey Kuznetsov produced an impressive performance throughout the entire qualifying competition as he dropped only 14 games in three matches. After beating Tobias Simon and Philip Oswald in the first two matches, the Russian set up a final showdown against third seed Donald Young. Young has recently been experiencing back issues and was forced to retire during his first round match against Grigor Dimitrov in the Madrid Masters last week. The American beat two unseeded Swiss players on the way to his meeting against Kuznetsov. Unfortunately for American tennis fans Young suffered an annihilation as the Russian stormed to a 6-2, 6-0, victory in only 50 minutes. This is Young’s most lopsided defeat on clay since the 2012 Monte Carlo Masters. On that occasion he lost 6-1, 6-1, to Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round.
Grabbing the fourth and last spot in the main draw is Bosnia’s Damir Džumhur. Recently the 22-year-old has experienced back to back losses to players ranked outside the top 200 (Antonio Veic and Andrey Rublev). Fortunately, he has now managed to regain some of his form back with a 7-6 (6), 6-3, win against Italy’s Matteo Donati. Dzumhur already has one clay court title this year. He won the ATP Santo Domingo Challenger in February without dropping a set during the tournament.
Main draw matchups for the qualifiers:
Lukas Rosol vs. Rendy Lu (Head to head of 1-1)
Andrey Kuznetsov vs. Andreas Haider-Maurer (Head to head of 1-1)
Adrian Mannarino vs Carlos Berlocq (first meeting)
Damir Dzumhur vs. Jurgen Melzer (first meeting)
All of the qualifiers have winnable matches to start their main draw journey, and Rosol and Dzumhur should both be favored to advance.
As the build up to Roland Garros nears, the competition has already begun in France but at a different tournament. The main draw of the 31st Open de Nice Côte d’Azur will commence today with six out of the world’s top 30 players taking part. After a 13-year absence from the ATP Calendar, the tournament returned in 2010. Since then the winners of the tournament have included players such as Richard Gasquet (2010) and Ernests Gulbis (2014).
Action at the tournament has already got underway with the qualifying rounds featuring 24 men battling it out for four main draw spots. Leading them into the main draw is top seed Sam Groth. Like the seven other seeded players, Groth received a bye in the first round. During the second round the Australian overcame a challenging first set to beat Maxime Teixeira 7-6 (3), 6-2 after an hour and 21 minutes. Then in the final round of qualifying, Groth was only on the court for three points before his opponent, Quentin Halys, retired due to illness. There wasn’t any clarification of what the Frenchman was suffering with however the on court doctor took his blood pressure before he left the court.
The most anticipated final round match was between 17-year-old Frances Tiafoe and second seed Ruben Bemelmans. Tiafoe, a former world No:2 in the juniors, grabbed the American Wildcard into the French Open following his win at the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. The player dubbed as ‘the future of American tennis’ eased his way into the final round with a straight sets win over world No:477 Daniil Medvedev whilst Bemelmans endured a marathon three sets battle against fellow countryman Yannik Reuter. The build up to the match unfortunately didn’t materialized into a competitive match on court as the Belgian raced to a 6-3, 6-3, win against Tiafoe.
Home joy for the French crowd came with Gianni Mina. The Frenchman is currently ranked 271st in the world and has won 5 Future titles. So far in his career, Mina has played at the French Open once which was in 2010 where he lost in the first round to the formidable Rafael Nadal. During the qualifying rounds the third seed came from a set down to beat Mate Pavić. In the final round, he faced Philipp Davydenko, the nephew of former world No:3 Nikolay Davydenko. Going into the draw the Russian has suffered five consecutive first round losses before he finally ended his losing streak against Wang Chieh-fu. The Russian continued his sudden burst of form at the start of his match against Mina by taking the first set. Despite the first set lead by Davydenko, he failed to maintain it as Mina battled back to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, in front of his home crowd. This is the first time that Mina has qualified for the main draw of a main ATP event since Gstaad in July last year.
The final man to make the main draw was New Zeland’s Michael Venus, who played his college tennis at LSU, after a shock three sets win over 4th seed Ante Pavić. Venus also produced wins over Gianluca Mager and Fabrice Martin during the qualifying tournament. The win is a big boost Venus and his camp as he has so far only achieved a main draw win-loss of 3-1 in 2015. He is currently ranked 514 in the world, but has been as high as 274 back in 2011. Nice will be the second time that Venus has played in the main draw of an ATP 250 event in 2015 after Auckland back in January. At that tournament he played one of the matches of the year against Alejandro Gonzalez, triumphing.
Main draw matchups for the qualifiers:
Sam Groth vs. Borna Coric
Gianni Mina vs. Bernard Tomic
Ruben Bemelmans vs. Sam Querrey
Michael Venus vs. Steve Johnson
Bemelmans will have a shot in his match, Mina gets a slumping Tomic, and it’ll be interesting to see how Coric plays the big server Groth.