The Winston-Salem Open finished up on Saturday with young Russian Daniil Medvedev claiming victory 6-4 6-4 over Steve Johnson, his second ATP title of 2018. Medvedev will enter the US Open in tremendous form having not dropped a set in six matches in Winston-Salem. Medvedev was challenged by Johnson but rose to the occasion, earning the win after previously defeated Mirza Basic, Alex De Minaur, Guido Andreozzi, Ryan Harrison and Taro Daniel to reach the final.
Johnson reached his third final of 2018 and also had strong week. He eased past Tommy Paul, Jaume Munar, Kyle Edmund, and Pablo Carreno Busta without dropping a set suggesting that the American could also be a potential dark horse at the US Open.
Rojer and Tecau defeated Cerretani and Paes in straight sets to win the doubles title.
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.
Bautista Agut Takes Second ATP Title of the Season in Winston-Salem Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut took his second title of 2017 with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Damir Dzumhur, where he twice took decisive leads in the match, only for Dzumhur to claw back from the dead and make each set competitive. The Spaniard is 39-15 on the season and has again matched his season high for ATP titles with 2 for the year, and there is still some tournaments left to go for him to get to #3.
Dzumhur, who won 20 matches at the tour level last year, is already at 18 match wins for the season (plus a solid challenger record). The 25 year old Bosnian is a rising competitor as he made his third final overall this season (first at the ATP level), Dzumhur is 12-3 over his last three tournaments. In Winston-Salem he defeated Denis Istomin, Gilles Simon, Horacio Zeballos, Hyeon Chung, and Kyle Edmund.
RBA defeated Dusan Lajovic, Marcos Baghdatis, Taylor Fritz, and J.L. Struff to reach the final . Rojer/Tecau beat Peralta/Zeballos in the doubles final.
2017 ATP Winston-Salem Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Prior to the U.S. Open, the ATP’s stop in Winston-Salem is the final chance for ATP players to get some matches in, and it’s the last stop on the US Open Series.
ATP World Tour 250
August 20-26, 2017
Winston-Salem, NC, USA
Prize Money: $664,825
Top 4 seeds (Top 16 seeds receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Roberto Bautista Agut (15)
2: Pablo Carreno Busta (16)
3: John Isner (14)
4: Kevin Anderson (32)*
Dusan Lajovic won his opening match against main draw debutante Petros Chrysochos, but Roberto Bautista Agut should be too solid on hard courts, and looks set to defeat him in round 2. Marcos Baghdatis won his opening match against Ricardas Berankis, he should defeat Jiri Vesely for a fourth straight time to reach the third round before falling to Bautista Agut.
Yuichi Sugita is in great form and reached the quarters in Cincy. Sugita should defeat Thiago Monteiro (or dirtballer Paolo Lorenzi) in the third round, after Taylor Fritz or Malek Jaziri fall victim to him in the second round. This is an open section and you have to back Sugita’s form.
John Isner is 12-2 in the US this summer, and looks set to defeat Andrey Kuznetsov in round 2, after Kuznetsov defeated Nicolas Kicker. Borna Coric should defeat a struggling Donald Young, or qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva before falling to Isner in the third round.
Aljaz Bedene hasn’t had as much success on hard courts as other surfaces, he’ll be favored against Andreas Seppi or Janko Tipsarevic though. I have Jan-Lennard Struff making a run, he just defeated Norbert Gombos, Pablo Cuevas is poor on hard courts and should be next, then Bedene in round 3.
Defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta should beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert (or Julien Benneteau) in round 2. Herbert continues to improve in singles, but PCB has good history here. Hyeon Chung is my dark horse pick this week, Andrey Rublev (or Steve Darcis) could trip him up, but I have him defeating Carreno Busta in the third round.
Dominik Koepfer is making his ATP debut as a lucky loser against Horacio Zeballos, Fernando Verdasco will be favored against the winner. With Gilles Simon struggling, Damir Dzumhur is in tremendous form, he should beat Denis Istomin, then upset Simon before falling to Verdasco in the third round.
Joao Sousa is in tremendous form, he should beat Marton Fuscovics or Ernests Gulbis, Daniil Medvevev had a good run in Washington but then hit the skids. Kyle Edmund faces Thomas Fabbiano, I have Edmund slipping past Medvedev, and then Sousa in the third round.
Steve Johnson is in terrible form and hasn’t won a match on the US Open Series. Viktor Troicki hasn’t won a match since the grass court season, while Alex Bolt faces a struggling Carlos Berlocq in this section. Dmitry Tursunov will face Rendy Lu, Lu has won 10 straight matches and is red hot on the challenger tour. Look for Lu to beat Tursunov, then Johnson. I have Bolt upsetting Troicki before falling to Lu in the third round.
Quarters Bautista Agut d. Sugita
Isner d. Struff
Edmund d. Lu
Chung d. Verdasco
In the open bottom section look for the young guns Edmund and Chung to slip into the semis over veterans. Isner is a strong favorite to reach at least the semifinals.
Semis Isner d. Bautista Agut
Edmund d. Chung
Isner should stay in form and take the title at home in North Carolina.
Pablo Carreno Busta has been rapidly improving his hard court game, and it paid off on Saturday in Winston-Salem, as the Spaniard won his first ever ATP title 6-7 7-6 6-4 over his countryman Roberto Bautista Agut in a nip and tuck match. The first set featured no breaks of serve, as RBA took the first set tiebreak, as was expected. However, the favored #2 seed couldn’t consolidate a set and a break lead, and ended up playing a miserable second set tiebreak that sent the match into a third set. RBA had experienced severe lapses in form during his matches in Winston-Salem, and the third set of the final was no different, as a lone break allowed PCB to grab a lead that had he never was threatened to give up, the top 50 Spaniard closing out the match against the top 20 Spaniard at love.
PCB is 10-3 since Wimbledon in ATP tournaments and has been playing some great tennis. In Winston-Salem he beat J.L. Struff, Pablo Cuevas, Andrey Kuznetsov and John Millman without dropping a set. RBA defeated Aljaz Bedene and Marcos Baghdatis in three sets, then he got an easier match against Rendy Lu before winning a third set over Viktor Troicki, in which he was up a set and 5-1, and ended up needing a third set to get the victory.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, another Spaniard, and Henri Kontinen beat Andre Begemann and Leander Paes for the doubles title in a close match.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Semis 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.
Final Anderson d. Bautista Agut
Anderson badly needs an ATP title right now, and he has a great chance to get one here.
#2 seed Kevin Anderson boosted his ranking, broke out of a summer slump, and captured his first ATP title since 2012 with a routine 6-4 7-5 victory over qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert in Winston-Salem. Anderson came into the Winston-Salem Open with just two match wins since Wimbledon, and after a slow start in his opening match against Mikhail Kukushkin, where he had to serve his way back from a set down, he didn’t drop another set against Jerzy Janowicz, Borna Coric, and Malek Jaziri before the final. The South African moves back into the top 15, and puts himself into the dark horse conversation for the US Open as well with his powerful and steady hard court game. Anderson didn’t drop serve after his opening match through the rest of the week.
Herbert, along with Jaziri, and Steve Johnson, the other semifinalist, was a pleasant surprise this week. The talented Frenchman had seen his singles career decline and was close to becoming perhaps a doubles specialist, but at 24 he’s certainly going to be back focusing on singles after reaching his first ATP final. PHH, who also has a quality serve, didn’t drop a set in qualifying and then ousted veterans Sergiy Stakhovsky and Marcos Baghdatis, in 3 sets to reach the quarterfinals. From there he scored tough comeback wins against Pablo Carreno Busta from a set down and a second set tiebreak won, and likewise against Johnson, who came up just short in his bid to reach his first ever ATP title in front of home fans no less.
It’s hard to tell what type of player Herbert will develop into in coming seasons, but his play this week once more demonstrated his under appreciated potential.
In doubles the veteran pairing of Dominic Inglot/Robert Lindstedt scored a routine win over Eric Butorac/Scott Lipsky to go home with the title. Attention now shifts to the US Open which starts on Monday, as the Emirates Airlines US Open Series has now concluded for 2015.
The final stop on the US Open Series is Winston-Salem.
2015 Winston-Salem Open Predictions
Steen Kirby’s picks
Round 2 matches: Simon vs. Bedene, Herbert vs. Baghdatis, Sousa vs. Haas, Bolelli vs. Querrey, Tsonga vs. Young, Donaldson vs. Johnson, Paire vs. Chung, Lu vs. Garcia-Lopez, Bellucci vs. Duckworth, Klizan vs. Vesely, Gabashvili vs. Kokkinakis, Jaziri vs. Troicki, Coric vs. Giraldo, Schwartzman vs. Andujar, Janowicz vs. Rosol, Kukushkin vs. Anderson Round 3 matches: Simon vs. Baghdatis, Sousa vs. Querrey, Tsonga vs. Johnson, Paire vs. Lu, Bellucci vs. Klizan, Kokkinakis vs. Jaziri, Coric vs. Andujar, Janowicz vs. Anderson Quarterfinals: Baghdatis vs. Querrey, Tsonga vs. Paire, Bellucci vs. Kokkinakis, Coric vs. Anderson Semifinals: Querrey vs. Tsonga, Kokkinakis vs. Anderson
Final: Tsonga vs. Anderson Champion: Anderson
Chris de Waard’s picks
Round 2 matches: Simon vs. Bedene, Stakhovsky vs. Baghdatis, Sousa vs. Haas, Bolelli vs. Querrey, Tsonga vs. Young, Groth vs. Johnson, Paire vs. Chung, Lu vs. Garcia-Lopez, Bellucci vs. Duckworth, Ilhan vs. Vesely, Gabashvili vs. Kokkinakis, Jaziri vs. Troicki, Coric vs. Giraldo, Schwartzman vs. Andujar, Janowicz vs. Gulbis, Mahut vs. Anderson Round 3 matches: Simon vs. Baghdatis, Sousa vs. Querrey, Tsonga vs. Johnson, Paire vs. Garcia-Lopez, Duckworth vs. Vesely, Kokkinakis vs. Troicki, Coric vs. Andujar, Gulbis vs. Anderson
Quarterfinals: Simon vs. Querrey, Tsonga vs. Paire, Vesely vs. Kokkinakis, Coric vs. Gulbis Semifinals: Simon vs. Tsonga, Kokkinakis vs. Coric
Final: Tsonga vs. Coric Champion: Tsonga
Four qualifiers joined the large Winston-Salem Open field for 2015, as they demonstrated their good form in advance of the 2015 US Open.
Two of the players set to feature at the open, Martin Klizan, and young gun American Frances Tiafoe were the stars of the qualifying draw.
Klizan, a top 40 player, was a surprise entrant in the qualifying draw, and will now look to boost is below .500 hard court record this year at the main draw level with a good run in Winston-Salem. The Slovakian beat Eric Quigley in round 1 and Deiton Baughman in round 2 before finishing his sweep of American qualifying competitors with a straight set win over in-form American Bjorn Fratangelo who found his hopes of playing in an ATP main draw for the second straight week stopped in their tracks. Klizan scored a minor upset over Dominic Thiem in Cincinnati and is likely to get through round 1 given the lower ranked and less talented Marsel Ilhan is his opponent.
Frances Tiafoe failed to win a match in his main draw opportunity in Atlanta this summer, but he’ll get another crack at his first ATP main draw win as a professional against James Duckworth in the opening round in Winston-Salem. The confident 17 year old beat Patrick Daciek. Radu Albot, and fellow American Ryan Harrison to qualifying, beating the experienced baseline grinder Harrison in three sets, as he recovered from a first set breadstick to get the win. Tiafoe has already been awarded a main draw wild card for the US Open, so he gets to bypass qualifying, and he’s he has a lot of tennis ahead as he will also be playing in the US Open Juniors as he’s still 17 and got a wild card for that tournament.
Joining Klizan and Tiafoe in the main draw are a pair of Europeans, Marco Cecchinato and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Cecchinato normally prefers clay, but he has a surprisingly positive 7-6 hard court record on the season now, after blazing through qualifying without a set dropped against Andrew Carter, Skander Mansouri and Wil Spencer. He’ll open against Aljaz Bedene in round 1, another player who prefers clay.
Herbert, a 24 year old Frenchman and quasi doubles specialist, continued his success at the ATP qualifying level this season and relied on his serve to get past Kimmer Coppejans, Kevin King and Sekou Bangoura without dropping a set. Herbert had one of the tougher draws to qualify, so his results have been impressive in North Carolina and he’ll have a great chance to get a win over ATP veteran Sergiy Stakhovsky in round 1.
2015 ATP Winston-Salem Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Winston-Salem, the final stop for the ATP tour on the 2015 Emirates Airlines US Open Series is also the final 2015 US Open tune up for the men’s players opting to participate this week and get in matches just before the final slam of the year, the US Open. Here is a preview of ATP tennis, Carolina style.
ATP World Tour 250
August 23-August 30, 2015
Prize Money: $616,210
Top 8 seeds (top 16 seeds receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Gilles Simon (11)
2: Kevin Anderson (15)
3: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (19)
4: Viktor Troicki (20)
5: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (29)
6: Thomaz Bellucci (33)
7: Sam Querrey (34)
8: Borna Coric (38)
Four top 20 players in the field this week, as Winston-Salem has a relatively strong field for a 250.
The big serving Groth has missed two weeks this summer, after reaching the quarterfinals in Washington, and thus his form should be in question. Donaldson,a rising American, has yet to suffer a first round defeat this summer, and the teenager has a chance to continue that streak in this one. Dealing with Groth’s serve is always a challenge, but Donaldson competes well and tends to play clutch tennis, that should suit him in match that is likely to feature tiebreaks, and I have JD pulling off an upset and reaching round 2 with a win over the Australian.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
Dolgopolov had another random hot streak of run that showcased his inconsistent talent as he reached the semifinals in Cincinnati, his best result this season. After pushing Novak Djokovic to three sets in that semifinal, he should be full of confidence, and he also helped boost his ranking back up. That said, the human highlight reel is likely fatigue after a long week in Ohio, and may not transition well here. Kokkinakis continues to improve his standing on tour and qualified for Cincy, reaching round 2. This should be a showcase first round match, and I have Kokkinakis getting through because I see Dolgopolov as being fatigued.
Lukas Rosol vs. Ernests Gulbis
Gulbis just beat Rosol in three sets in Montreal, and now the defending champion of Winston-Salem will have to try to get past him, as he seeks to defend his ranking points. Gulbis had his best result of the season in Montreal, reaching the quarterfinals, but he struggled in the Vancouver challenger, and he’s been horrid overall this year. With a strange travel schedule, I’m not sure he’ll acclimate well to the matches here, and I see Rosol getting revenge and snapping a two match losing streak to reach round 2. This match should feature a lot of ball bashing as both of these guys are power baseliners.
Gilles Simon, who is a pedestrian 1-2 this summer, will start his Winston-Salem campaign against either a qualifier or Aljaz Bedene, who hasn’t played a hard court match since the spring. Bedene was in good for, this summer, but the qualifier will likely have an edge given the surface, and Simon should be able to get a win and push himself into the round of 16. There, he could face trouble, as Marcos Baghdatis, a finalist in Atlanta, is his likely opponent. Baghdatis will need to beat Sergiy Stakhovsky or a qualifier to get that far. Stako is in poor form, and presuming he’s healthy, I’d give a fit and aggressive Baghdatis an edge over his round 2 opponent. Baghdatis is 2-0 on outdoor hard against Simon, and if healthy, I see him scoring an upset over the out of form Frenchman, in what could be a great week for the ball striking veteran. Baghdatis should reach the quarters from the first section.
Sam Querrey will face either Simone Bolelli or Federico Delbonis first up, Bolelli is 10-9 on a hard court this year but hasn’t played much recently, Delbonis is a dirtballer, so the Italian should win that one, but Querrey is likely to win against Bolelli. The American comes off an upset win over John Isner in Cincy, and his form appears improved, home soil should suit him well. In the third round look for Querrey against Tommy Haas or Joao Sousa. Haas is just 1-3 on US soil this season, but he’s still a veteran talent and should defeat dirtballer Pablo Carreno Busta. Sousa upset Philipp Kohlschreiber in Cincy to improve his hard court record to 4-7 outdoors this season, and that should be good enough for the Portugese #1 to earn a win and face Querrey in the third round, presuming his opponent is a rusty Haas. Given Querrey is normally a superior hard court player, I’d give him the edge over Sousa to reach the quarters.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will collide against either Donald Young or Denis Istomin in his first match. Young hasn’t had a good season but he qualified in Montreal and Istomin has a poor outdoor hard court record this year, thus I have him winning in round 1 but losing to the superior Tsonga in round 2. The Montreal quarterfinalist could get a difficult third round match against American Steve Johnson, presuming Johnson dispatches the Groth/Donaldson winner in round 2. Groth and Donaldson are also possible dark horses. Johnson reached the semis in Washington but has struggled since then, and Tsonga has the most talent here, so he should be able to put some wins together and reach the quarters.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is returning from injury and playing for the first time on hard courts this summer. The Spaniard is 6-6 outdoors this year on hard courts but he still may struggle against either Rendy Lu or Robin Haase. Lu qualified for Montreal and Cincy, and given he’s at his best on this surface and his form appears good for his limited skillset, he could well have a great tournament this week. I see Taiwan’s #1 scoring a win over Haase and an upset over an out of form GGL to reach the third round, where he should face the in-form Benoit Paire. The talented but underachieving Paire won an ATP title on clay not long ago and qualified in Cincy, he’s playing some of his best tennis in years. Presuming he’s dialed in, the Frenchman should have limited difficulties against either James Ward, or more likely young gun Hyeon Chung in round 2, and then I see him getting past Lu with his talented backhand and shotmaking to reach a hard court ATP quarterfinal. Paire is all flair, and Lu is all business in a style contrast.
Presuming he’s healthy, Kevin Anderson has a venue and conditions that could create a great week for him, but he’ll have to find his form before the US Open to do that. Big Kev snapped a summer losing streak and won a pair of matches in Cincy, that bodes well for him, and I see him getting a win over Mikhail Kukushkin/Nicolas Mahut in his first match. In the third round he could well have to battle against Rosol/Gulbis, though Jerzy Janowicz is also an option. Janowicz also won a pair of matches in Cincy, and I see him winning a ball bashers battle if he can focus in against Gulbis/Rosol, though it’s a hard section to predict. Anderson with his big serve and strong forehand is the best player in this section for the surface, and thus I see him reaching the quarters, but another player could take his place, as his form has been inconsistent this summer. This section features some big hitters.
Borna Coric has played solid tennis this summer on the US Open Series, though he’s had some tough draws, as he dropped closed matches to Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka in Montreal and Cincy. With that in mind, the young Croatian should defeat either Santiago Giraldo or Steve Darcis in round 2, given how pedestrian both of those veterans have been as of late. He’ll also be a strong favorite in round 3, as one of Pablo Andujar/Diego Schwartzman/Daniel Gimeno-Traver will reach the third round in one of the weakest hard court sections possible at the ATP level. All of those players prefer clay, and Coric has a great opportunity to excel on hard courts right before the US Open, reaching at least the quarterfinals (over Andujar in my bracket).
Viktor Troicki doesn’t have a difficult first match against Malek Jaziri/Joao Souza, but the Serbian #2 is in horrible form and is playing well below his top 20 ranking at the moment. I see Jaziri, who reached the quarterfinals in a pro circuit challenger last week, getting revenge on the dirtballer Souza for his loss in Doha earlier in the season, and then extending Troicki’s losing streak to six matches. With Troicki not much of a threat, and Jaziri a journeyman, the section opens up for Thanasi Kokkinakis most likely. Teymuraz Gabashvili is slated to face the winner of Kokkinakis/Dolgopolov, but besides the fact he beat Andy Murray in Washington, the underachieving Russian has a poor record on ATP level hard courts this year. The young gun Kokkinakis should join his fellow young gun Coric in the quarterfinals this week.
Thomaz Bellucci will face off with either James Duckworth or a qualifier in his first match. Both Bellucci and Duckworth are 2-3 this summer on hard courts, though Bellucci has had tougher draws. The big hitting Brazilian should win his first match before a likely face off with Jiri Vesely, who won an ATP title on hard courts at the start of the season in Auckland. Vesely is 8-6 on outdoor hard this year and has to beat Marsel Ilhan or a qualifier first, Bellucci just beat Vesely last week in Cincy, and thus he should reach the quarterfinals with a weak draw.
I have Thanasi Kokkinakis as a semifinalist, but Baghdatis has a chance to walk away with the title this week as a veteran, though he’ll need to beat Simon, Sam Querrey, and possibly Tsonga/Anderson to do so. Marcos showed renewed vigor, stamina, and passion in his run to the Atlanta final, a similar surface and venue, and he showed his aggressive ball striking was well-suited for hot conditions. An abductor injury is a concern, but if he’s healthy don’t count Baghdatis out to have another remarkable week on the US Open Series.
Quarters Querrey d. Baghdatis
Tsonga d. Paire
Kokkinakis d. Bellucci
Anderson d. Coric
Querrey on home soil should have an edge over Baghdatis, who may not be 100%, though I don’t count Marcos out to even win the title. Tsonga is 2-0 against Paire and better on a hard court, Anderson should also have a surface edge in his match, as Coric may struggle with his big serve, and Kokkinakis is also likely superior on hard court to Bellucci in a difficult match to predict.
Semis Tsonga d. Querrey
Anderson d. Kokkinakis
Tsonga has a win over the mentally weak Querrey this year,and Anderson has a h2h win over Kokkinakis from Toronto last year, They are the best two players in terms of talent and form in this draw for the surface, and thus should meet in the final.
A great chance for either player to get an ATP title this week, they have only met once on clay and Tsonga prevailed, but on hard court I feel the advantage shifts to Anderson, who is hoping to walk away with at least one title on the US Open Series this summer.