2015 Casablanca ATP Challenger Preview & Picks
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
Because of the upcoming Australian Open qualification tournament only one Challenger will be played, on clay in Casablanca.
Morocco Tennis Tour
ATP Challenger Tour
12-17 January 2015
Prize Money: €42,500
Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Albert Montanes (103)
2: Daniel Gimeno-Traver (108)
3: Adrian Ungur (154)
4: Roberto Carballes Baena (165)
5: Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (223)
6: Mirza Basic (268)
7: Julien Cagnina (275)
8: Nikola Mektic (276)
The last direct acceptance is Ivo Klec, ranked 346th.
First round match-ups to watch
(WC) Lamine Ouahab – Dennis Novak
This is one for the purists. Everyone’s favorite overweight journeyman Ouahab is thirty years old now and has slipped to #586 in the rankings. Even on the Futures circuit he is failing to make a dent, failing to reach the semi-final of one after he won Croatia F5 in March. 21 year old Novak spent the off-season training with Ernests Gulbis and countryman Dominic Thiem, which should have been an inspiring experience. Of course, this match is a must win for him.
(5) Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo – (PR) Javier Marti
23 year old Marti has only played five events in 2014 and is praying to stay healthy this year, in order to return to the top 200, where he was ranked in 2012. Ramirez Hidalgo is not a pleasant match-up to be facing on your first match back, however. He turned 37 this month, but the godfather of moonballing will not give you an inch.Embed from Getty Images
Even though top seed Albert Montanes is very likely to get into the main draw of the Australian Open, he sends a very clear message by entering this event. He is not interested in performing well in Australia and will serve as an easy prey for his lucky first round opponent. Here in Casablanca he has a much stronger case, landing in a section with two qualifiers and a wild card. The other seed in his quarter, Mirza Basic, should pose no problems either. However, #3 seed Adrian Ungur may well take him out in the semi-final. Last year they fought out a titanic battle at the San Marino Challenger, with Ungur winning 1-6 7-5 7-6(5).
It’s hard to look past #2 seed Daniel Gimeno-Traver here. He has a good draw and I don’t think anyone can threaten him. Ramirez Hidalgo and Carballes Baena will probably battle it out for a spot in the semi-final, where one of them will lose against Gimeno-Traver. Gimeno-Traver picked up his clay form at the end of last year, winning the Kenitra Challenger in September, his most recent tournament on the surface.
Ungur d. Montanes
Gimeno-Traver d. Carballes Baena
Gimeno-Traver d. UngurEmbed from Getty Images