2014 ATP Hamburg, Bogota Previews & Picks
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Clay will be the surface for the 500 series event in Hamburg, which should still be in a euphoric mood after Germany won the World Cup. Meanwhile, the 250 event on hard court in Bogota will take place for the second consecutive season, providing some nice variety in the ATP Tour entrée offerings this week.
ATP World Tour 500
July 14-July 20, 2014
Prize Money: €1,190,700
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: David Ferrer (7)
2: Fabio Fognini (15)
3: Tommy Robredo (18)
4: Alex Dolgopolov (19)
5: Mikhail Youzhny (22)
6: Roberto Bautista Agut (23)
7: Philipp Kohlschreiber (26)
8: Marcel Granollers (28)
Just one top 10 player for the 500 series event in Hamburg. Regardless, there is a lot of parity with the seeds and the top 16 seeds all get byes into round 2.
First round matchups to watch:
Robin Haase vs. (WC)Alex Zverev
The young Zverev nearly beat eventual finalist Lukas Rosol as a wild card last week in Stuttgart. This week in Hamburg, where he again receives a wild card, he will face a potentially easier opponent, Robin Haase, who comes off a round 2 loss at a clay challenger in Holland and has not been that great all season. Zverev is rising quickly and this is a great chance for him to earn his maiden ATP main draw win on home soil.
Jiri Vesely vs. Dominic Thiem
A match between young players (1993 generation) brimming with potential: Vesely was poor in Bastad last week, losing in round 1, but he had a good Wimbledon, while Thiem struggled on grass but has otherwise had an exceptional season. As a result of his efforts as an ATP qualifier earlier in the season, he is ranked a few spots higher than Vesely, and is in the top 60, which is what Vesely is gunning to make. Vesely beat Thiem at a futures event in 2012 on clay, but Thiem should be happy to be playing on the dirt again and has to be favored at least slightly here.
David Ferrer, who was shocked by Carlos Berlocq early in Bastad, and has had some inexplicable losses throughout the 2014 season, showing that he is in a noticeable decline, opens with Mikhail Kukushkin or Marsel Ilhan. Assuming he wins, he will face one of Andreas Seppi/Pere Riba/Juan Monaco in round 3, with a potential quarterfinal against Bastad semifinalist Fernando Verdasco awaiting. Verdasco must first beat Pablo Carreno Busta/Dustin Brown and then he should get a mouthwatering third round match with Stuttgart champion Roberto Bautista Agut, who opens with Mate Delic/Pablo Andujar.
RBA is in great form and has been all season, but he played some long matches in Stuttgart and may be running out of steam by the time round 3 rolls around. Ferrer is in a weak section, so even in poor form, he should get to most likely Verdasco in the quarters, but Nando could prove trouble for him at the stage.
Alex Dolgopolov will open part 2 of his clay court campaign this season against Jerzy Janowicz or Albert Ramos.
Janowicz was again awful in Bastad, and Dolgopolov, while never the most reliable, should be good enough to beat him or Ramos and get to round 3, where Federico Delbonis should await him, assuming the Argentine gets past Tobias Kamke/Jarkko Nieminen in round 2.
Delbonis reached quarterfinals in Stuttgart, and he could capitalize if Dolgopolov loses form, but I’m personally favoring Dolgo to reach the quarterfinals out of his section.
Santiago Giraldo and Mikhail Youzhny are on a collision course in the section below, for the right to face Dolgopolov or another player in the quarterfinals. Giraldo opens with Andrey Golubev/Benoit Paire, both of whom are struggling, especially Paire, who has been very disappointing this season. Youzhny faces the winner of Zverev/Haase, and he finally posted a good result last week making the semis in Stuttgart. Time will tell if he can back up that result with more quality play or if his downward trend this year will continue on after a blip of improvement. Youzhny is 3-0 against Giraldo in his career with a win on clay, but the quarterfinalist in Stuttgart last week has been more consistent this season, and I’m favoring Santi to reach the quarters. Zverev could also make a shock run out of this section, so don’t count him out either.
Fabio Fognini, who exited in the semifinals in Stuttgart, and is currently a struggling defending champion, will face JL Struff or Serb Filip Krajinovic in round 2. In round 3, he could get Bastad semifinalist Carlos Berlocq.
Berlocq just needs to beat Dusan Lajovic/Kenny De Schepper. Fognini beat Berlocq in Davis Cup action on clay this season in 4 sets, and unless he totally loses his composure and gives up again, he should make the quarterfinals and continue on with a chance to defend his title.
Fognini/Berlocq could face a variety of quarterfinal opponents. 10 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez narrowly lost to RBA in Stuttgart and has had good results on clay this season. He faces Peter Gojowczyk/Leo Mayer in round 2. Also, the winner of Vesely/Thiem has a case for the quarterfinals. One of them will face Marcel Granollers in round 2.
GGL/Thiem is my pick for round 3 and the quarterfinalist there is a toss-up.
Tommy Robredo is struggling like his compatriot Ferrer. He was shocked by Renzo Olivo in Bastad, and will face Teymurz Gabashvili/Daniel Gimeno-Traver in round 2. Still assuming he gets past that, Bastad finalist Joao Sousa or Stuttgart finalist Lukas Rosol should await him in round 3. Rosol has to beat Julian Reister along with Sousa to reach that stage. Given Rosol played considerably better than Sousa in his final against a better opponent, Rosol, if fit, should get past both Sousa and Robredo and reach the quarterfinals.
The struggling seeds Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gilles Simon highlight the section above Robredo. Both veterans would wish to forgot 2014 thus far and will be looking to build momentum back this week in Hamburg, as the second half of the season has begun. Kohli faces Gastao Elias/Albert Montanes in round 2. Assuming he wins, he will face Simon or Martin Klizan/Igor Sijsling. Klizan has been a player on an upward trend this season who played well on clay in the first part of the season, thus I’m tipping him as a surprise quarterfinalist here.
Dark Horse: Martin Klizan
Alex Zverev and Dominic Thiem will both have chances to produce great results as dark horses, but Klizan gets the official designation because he already has a title on clay this season, and with Sijsling/Simon and likely Kohlschreiber his first three opponents, his route to the quarterfinals, even as an underdog in terms of ranking, seems entirely doable. Then with Rosol/Robredo/Sousa in the quarters, he will again have a great shot at victory. With last weeks clay court finalists coming off tiring weeks of tennis, and Robredo in poor form. I’m predicting a Klizan-Fognini semifinal, and Klizan beat Fognini in Munich this year on clay already, so in short I have the unseeded Slovak in the final this week.
Verdasco d. Giraldo
Klizan d. Fognini
Verdasco beat Santi in Houston on clay this season, and I feel he’s in the right sort of form to capitalize on the right sort of draw and get through to the final this week, past Ferrer and either Giraldo or Dologopolov.
As mentioned above, Klizan did beat a competitive Fognini in Munich already this year, and that was on clay. I don’t see why he wouldn’t do it again with Fognini struggling. He also beat Fognini in 2012 on indoor hard in an ATP final.
Verdasco d. Klizan
Dasco and Klizan have never met, and this would be a competitive final in which both players would have their chances, but Verdasco has more experience and a better pedigree, so I like him to take home the title in what will be a competitive event this week.
Claro Open Colombia
ATP World Tour 250
July 14-July 20, 2014
Prize Money: $663,610
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Richard Gasquet (14)
2: Ivo Karlovic (29)
3: Vasek Pospisil (34)
4: Radek Stepanek (39)
A rather weak field for Bogota. With just one top 20 player and none of the seeds being very strong, its anyone’s tournament this week.
Richard Gasquet will be a featured player at both Bogota this week. The Frenchman struggled at Wimbledon and has not been entirely healthy for most of the season, so he is looking for a bit of a fresh start. However, he could very well face trouble in his first match, as Sam Groth needs to just beat wild card Juan Sebastian Cabal to set up a meeting with the top seed. Groth, who has a powerful serve that will help him even more in the Colombian altitude, comes off his first career ATP semi in Newport, and he would love to beat top 15 player Gasquet in what would be a career best win.
The winner of that will face one of Victor Estrella/qualifier(x2)/Peter Polansky in the quarterfinals, in one of, to be frank, the weakest ATP level tournament sections I have seen yet. Anyone has a chance, and none of them are ATP quarterfinal caliber players. However, Polansky has the best hard court pedigree.
Vasek Pospisil, who has suffered through a miserable season, will face Alex Kuznetsov/Adrian Mannarino up first, even though he has been so poor this season since injuring his back. His draw is so weak he should still make the quarterfinals to face Alejandro Falla or Bernard Tomic. The defending finalist Falla plays Tatsuma Ito, while the wild card Tomic plays Farrukh Dustov.
If Tomic is going to show he’s working to be a serious professional again, he has a great chance to put up a big result this week in the weak field.
Newport finalist and defending Bogota champ Ivo Karlovic will face Dudi Sela/Facundo Arguello in round 2. The veteran may have to fight through fatigue, but his serve will help him keep points short and he should reach the semis to face one of Matt Ebden/qualifier/Michal Przysiezny/Jimmy Wang. Once again, this is an average challenger level section and anyone has a chance. Przysiezny has the h2h edge over Wang, so it will likely be a Karlovic/Przysiezny quarterfinal, with a fatigued Karlovic as the favorite.
Another veteran, Radek Stepanek, will face Eduardo Struvay/Guido Pella in round 2. Pella announced he was taking a leave of absence from tennis a little while ago, but now he’s back, hopefully having found the motivation and drive to excel that he said his game was lacking when he took the sabbatical. Stepanek will face one of Alejandro Gonzalez/Evgeny Donskoy/Thiemo De Bakker/qualifier in the quarters, and should easily dispatch any of those four players in what is yet another incredibly weak section for an ATP event.
Dark Horse: Bernard Tomic
Everyone could well be a dark horse this week, given the event is filled with players in poor form and clay courters, but Tomic best wears the designation. There are plenty of reasons to rag on him and he’s earned much of the ill repute he has on tour right now with the media, fans, and many of his fellow players for his poor work ethic and other issues, but he’s starting from the bottom again as a wild card. With Farrukh Dustov, Ito/Falla and Pospisil/Mannarino/Kuznetsov as his potential first three matches, talent wise at least, he has a great shot at the semifinals or better and could walk away with an ATP title this week out of nowhere.
Gasquet d. Pospisil
Stepanek d. Karlovic
This tournament is hard to predict in most of the sections, but Gasquet should be able to reach the final out of sheer talent, even in 60% form. Stepanek, meanwhile, has a 4-1 h2h advantage over Karlovic and has a win against him this season. Karlovic should be fatigued, so look for the Czech to advance.
Stepanek d. Gasquet
Stepanek leads the h2h 3-1 against Gasquet and 3-0 on fast surfaces (2-0 on hard courts). As his form has been better recently, and he’s had a good season overall, the veteran has at least one more ATP singles title left in the tank, and he should earn it this week in Bogota.