2017 ATP Marrakech Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2017 European clay court season begins with a 250 stop in Marrakech, Morocco, North Africa’s only ATP tournament. Here is your preview with predictions.
Grand Prix Hassan II
ATP World Tour 250
April 10-16, 2017
Prize Money: €482,060
Top 4 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Grigor Dimitrov (12)
2: Albert Ramos-Vinolas (24)
3: Philipp Kohlschreiber (32)
4: Mischa Zverev (33)
Just one elite player in the field for this 250 but it’s far from the weakest tournament played at this level.
First round matchups to watch:
(6)Benoit Paire vs. Carlos Berlocq
A great opportunity for Paire, if he can continue his momentum from a challenger final on clay this past week, he could have a good showing in this 250. Berlocq is a solid dirtballer, but far from elite, he’ll grind away, hoping for a win, but Paire’s talent should edge it.
Malek Jaziri vs. Jeremy Chardy
Jaziri has had a great 2017 thus far and posted solid results in both hard court Masters, he’s not playing far from home but clay is not his favorite surface. Chardy played well in Davis Cup and presuming he’s still fresh and fit he looks set to win this match and perhaps go much farther than that.
(7)Diego Schwartzman vs. Borna Coric
Both players are talented on clay, Coric probably has more upside with his game, but Schwartzman has been steadily competitive for a while now. Coric is slowly working his way into form after a slow start to the season and is defending finals points in this tournament. Schwartzman is not a great opponent to have to face in round 1, and the Argentine should notch a win here.
Grigor Dimitrov has gotten off to a roaring start this season and should be set to defeat either former champ Tommy Robredo or qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky in round 2. Paire should follow, presuming Paire beats Berlocq and Radu Albot/Nicolas Almagro. Almagro is struggling, and although Dimitrov was abnormally poor last year on clay, he looks to be a different player this season, more well-rounded than Paire.
Philipp Kohlschreiber will face Chardy/Jaziri in round 2, a happier opponent for him than the top 10 losses he’s suffered in recent outings. Kohli is solid on clay and should also defeat qualifier Taro Daniel in the quarters. Daniel has won seven straight matches now, he’ll open with J.L. Struff, with either a struggling Marcel Granollers or young wild card Amine Ahouda to follow.
Albert Ramos-Vinolas should face former champion Martin Klizan in round 2, presuming Klizan defeats qualifier Laslo Djere. Ramos comes off of Davis Cup duty and is solid on clay. Presuming he’s fresh, he should edge past a streaky Klizan before running into defending champion Federico Delbonis. Delbonis opens with local wild card Reda El Amrani, with Schwartzman/Coric to follow, that round 2 match could decide the tournament winner, and perhaps could feature a finals rematch from last year if it’s Coric vs. Delbonis. That said I like Delbonis form to win his first three matches, also defeating Ramos in the quarters.
Paolo Lorenzi struggled in Davis Cup action and now will face off with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, a former champion who he has struggled against. I have GGL winning that contest, and also defeating another former champion Paul-Henri Mathieu (or qualifier Gianluigi Quinzi) to reach the quarterfinals opposite Jiri Vesely. Vesely should beat Nikoloz Basilashvili and also Mischa Zverev, who is not at his best on clay. I have Garcia-Lopez as the semifinalist in this section.
Dark Horse: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
The unseeded Garcia-Lopez looks set to take advantage of a weak section and beat both Lorenzi and Zverev/Vesely to reach the semifiinals. He’ll have a tough contest with Delbonis or Schwartzman in the semis, but it’s not out of the question he could suddenly find form and take this title, he’s done it before.
Dimitrov d. Kohlschreiber
Delbonis d. Garcia-Lopez
Kohli has a great shot at this title but I’m backing Dimitrov this tournament, Delbonis is also a favorite to reach the final.
Dimitrov d. Delbonis
I just can’t go against Dimitrov given the alternatives in the field, if Grigor is focused and plays his best he’ll aid his push for the top 10.