2016 ATP Winston-Salem Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The final tournament before the US Open is a large field 250 in North Carolina. Here is a preview of the tournament with predictions.
ATP World Tour 250
Winston-Salem, NC, U.S.A.
August 21-27, 2016
Prize Money: $639,255
Top 4 seeds (Top 16 seeds receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Richard Gasquet (15)
2: Roberto Bautista Agut (17)
3: Pablo Cuevas (19)
4: Steve Johnson (23)
For a 250, Winston-Salem has a solid field.
First round matchups to watch:
Thanasi Kokkinakis vs. Mikhail Youzhny
Kokkinakis has been injured most of the year but he played his first match of the season at the Rio Olympics, and now will face Youzhny, a veteran who has been playing well lately. Youzhny should prevail, but this is a great form check for Kokkinakis, as he looks to finish the season strong and head into next year with good form.
Taylor Fritz vs. (WC)Frances Tiafoe
Fritz reached the quarterfinals in Atlanta, but otherwise he’s shown signs be’s been struggling to adapt to ATP level competition on a weekly basis. His fellow young gun Tiafoe has had a great run of form in challengers lately, and although Fritz is more advanced in terms of development and ranking, I could see Tiafoe notching an upset in this one.
Donald Young vs. Pierre–Hugues Herbert
Young has had a few decent showings this summer, including a quarterfinal in Atlanta and he should be the favorite in this match. Herbert is a doubles specialist and a serve and volleyer who last played singles at Wimbledon. This is a good test for Young, who has a great chance to do well this tournament.Embed from Getty Images
Richard Gasquet struggled in Cincy, while his potential first round opponent Dan Evans is in great form, having just won a challenger. Evans will open with Gastao Elias, and will have a shot against Gasquet, but the Frenchman should prevail and also defeat his countryman Paul-Henri Mathieu, who opens with Stephane Robert, and then will face the seed Federico Delbonis in round 2. Both Delbonis and Robert are in terrible form, thus PHM should reach the third round.
Wild card Bjorn Fratangelo has a great shot at reaching the quarterfinals in a weak section. Fratangelo has been steadily improving and moving into ATP caliber tennis up from the challenger level. He’ll open with Evgeny Donskoy, a tough opponent, Paolo Lorenzi, a clay courter, will follow, with one of a qualifier, Albert Ramos or John Millman up in round 3. Millman played well in Cincy, and if he can beat a qualifier, and a struggling Ramos, I give him a slight edge over Fratangelo in the third round. Gasquet should defeat Millman in the quarterfinals.
Pablo Cuevas will face Malek Jaziri or a qualifier, Jaziri can play well at times, and Cuevas isn’t a pro on hard courts but I do have him prevailing in his match and reaching the third round to face Pablo Carreno Busta, a semifinalist in Cabo. PCB will face the winner of Andreas Seppi vs. J.L. Struff, and with both players struggling, he’s favored to advance. I also have him upsetting Cuevas to reach the quarterfinals.
Kevin Anderson has played well in both hard court Masters tournaments this summer, despite having a poor season he has a great chance to win this tournament. Anderson will face Jiri Vesely or a qualifier first off, with Andrey Kuznetsov or the Kokkinakis/Youzhny winner in round 3. I have Youzhny beating Kokkinakis, and Kuznetsov, who was injured in Rio, to setup a third round match with Anderson. Anderson should defeat Vesely and Youzhny, then Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals to reach the semis.
Roberto Bautista Agut reached the quarterfinals of Rio. and looks set to make a deep run in this tournament as well. RBA will face Aljaz Bedene or a qualifier, with Marcos Baghdatis likely in the third round. Baghdatis should defeat Young or Herbert before falling to RBA in round 3.Embed from Getty Images
Gilles Simon will face Mikhail Kukushkin or Diego Schwartzman in round 2, neither player is in good form, which means Simon should go through to the third round. His third round opponent should be Joao Sousa, Sousa will face Illya Marchenko or Yen-Hsun Lu in the second round. Both players are struggling, and thus Simon over Sousa is my pick in round 3. RBA should then defeat Simon to reach the semifinals.
Steve Johnson is the new American #1, Johnson has been in great form all year and should roll past Lukas Rosol or Victor Estrella, then defeat Fernando Verdasco who faces Tiafoe/Fritz in round 2. Expect an all American battle between Johnson and Sam Querrey in quarterfinals. Querrey will face Damir Dzumhur or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in his first match. Neither player is playing well, so although Querrey has struggled, he’s set to end up facing Viktor Troicki or Kyle Edmund/Rajeev Ram in round 3. Troicki has been in miserable form, so I have Edmund getting past the Olympic doubles medalist Ram, and then Troicki before falling to Querrey. Johnson should dispatch Querrey given his better recent form.
Dark Horse: John MillmanEmbed from Getty Images
The Australian has always had the talent to be an ATP contender, but he’s struggled to be consistent over the years and has never quite lived up to his potential. Millman looks set to make the quarterfinals here, and if he can upset Gasquet he’d been for a long desired ATP breakthrough.
Anderson d. Gasquet
Bautista Agut d. Johnson
Anderson just dominated Gasquet in Cincy, RBA is 4-0 against Johnson and the American should want to preserve himself for the US Open.
Anderson d. Bautista Agut
Anderson badly needs an ATP title right now, and he has a great chance to get one here.