Tour veteran Gilles Simon put together a surprising weak on home court in Metz, claiming his second title of 2018 7-6 6-1 against qualifier Matthias Bachinger. The win marks the first time Simon has won multiple ATP titles in a season since 2011. He dropped a set against Filip Krajinovic in the second round, but otherwise eased past Jiri Vesely, Richard Gasquet, and Radu Albot to reach the final.
Also a veteran, Bachinger took part in his first ever ATP final, coming through qualifying and then defeating Jaume Munar, Gregoire Barrere, Yannick Maden, and Kei Nishkori, his last two wins coming in three sets, with the stunning result over Nishikori one of the finest wins of his journeyman career.
The home nation swept the titles as Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin teamed up to defeat the Skupski brothers in the doubles final.
Austrian #1 Dominic Thiem balled out on hard courts claiming a third title for 2018 with a 6-3 6-1 routine victory against Martin Klizan in the St. Petersburg final. Thiem won four matches, dropping just a set in Russia. His wins came against J.L. Struff, Daniil Medvedev in a third set tiebreak, and Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the final.
Klizan had a good tournament as well, claiming wins against Evgeny Donskoy, Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, and Stan Wawrinka to reach the final, the final two wins coming in three set contests.
Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini teamed up to win the doubles title against Jebavy/Middelkoop.
Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka claimed his first ever ATP title 7-5 2-6 6-4 against Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The 23 year old has overcome a rash of injuries and in his first ATP final he was clutch against the more experienced Herbert. Like the other winner on the ATP Tour this week, Bernard Tomic, Nishioka came through qualifying to reach the main draw. In the main draw his wins came against Denis Kudla, Denis Shapovalov, Cam Norrie, and Fernando Verdasco, with Shapovalov and Verdasco taking three sets to defeat.
Herbert defeated Dusan Lajovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Albert Ramos, and Alex De Minaur to reach the final, needing three sets in his last two victories, including a nip and tuck win against ADM. The result is Herbert’s second ever ATP final.
Salisbury/Mclachlan defeated Lindstedt/Ram in the doubles final.
It’s been a long road back to this point for 25 year old Aussie Bernard Tomic, but he finally claimed another piece of ATP hardware winning his first title since 2015 6-1 3-6 7-6(7) against Fabio Fognini. Trailing in the tiebreak, Tomic had to produce both luck and skill to comeback for the win. He is now likely set to feature again at the higher level ATP tournaments as he had to come through qualifying where he dropped sets in two of his three matches, just to reach the main draw in this 250. In the main draw he edged Bradley Klahn and Lloyd Harris, then eased past Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Joao Sousa to reach the final.
Fognini has reached 4 ATP finals this season, he had a relatively smooth path against Ruben Bemelmans, Matt Ebden, and Taylor Fritz this week, though he did drop a set to Fritz.
Croatia’s Mate Pavic and Ivan Dodig defeated Nedunchezhiyan/Krajicek in the doubles final.
Fabio Fognini won his third title of 2018 and moved within one spot of his career high ranking (13) after upsetting Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-2. Fognini dropped just one set this week and that came in his first match against Quentin Halys. After winning that match he eased past Yoshihito Nishioka, and Cam Norrie dropping just 18 games in his final three matches this week, facing no tiebreaks.
Del Potro reached his fourth ATP final of the season easing past Marcos Giron, Egor Gerasimov and Damir Dzumhur without dropping a set.
Mexico’s own Arevalo/Reyes-Varela defeated Fritz/Kokkinakis in the doubles final.
The ATP clay court season wrapped up with qualifier Martin Klizan winning in Kitzbuhel, his first ATP title since 2016. Klizan had it easy against Denis Istomin winning 6-2 6-2. Over the course of the week Klizan won two qualifying matches, plus he defeated Sebastian Ofner, Dominic Thiem, Dusan Lajovic, and Jaume Munar in the main draw, dropping sets against Thiem and Lajovic.
Istomin had his best run of the season, he came out of qualifying and then defeated Federico Delbonis, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Max Marterer, and Nicolas Jarry to reach the final in a surprise. He wasn’t favored in any match this week but won all but the final.
Jebavy/Molteni defeated Bracciali/Delbonis in the doubles final.
Home Hero Alexander Zverev Leads Stacked ATP Munich Field Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Young guns Alexander Zverev and Hyeon Chung are among the top 4 seeds at the 2018 BMW Open 250 on clay in Munich. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
A semifinalist in Monte Carlo, home favorite Alexander Zverev will start against Marcos Baghdatis or Yannick Hanfmann, with another German likely lurking in the quarterfinals. Yannick Maden takes on Yuichi Sugita, while J.L. Struff takes on qualifier Daniel Masur. Both Struff and Maden are playing well, with Maden close to a breakthrough. I’ll go with Zverev over Struff in an all-German quarterfinal.
Hyeon Chung and Gael Monfils are both a joy to watch and could meet in the quarterfinals. Chung takes on Mikhail Kukushkin or Matthias Bachinger, while Monfils should get past Mirza Basic before running into Florian Mayer or Martin Klizan. Klizan qualified, and I have his fantastic form helping him get past Mayer, Monfils, and Chung to be a dark horse semifinalist.
Roberto Bautista Agut is slated to take on Marius Copil or Casper Ruud, RBA should defeat Ruud and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarters. I have Kohli beating Ivo Karlovic and Mischa Zverev/Andreas Haider-Maurer to reach the quarters.
Fabio Fognini takes on his countryman, Marco Cecchinato in the opening round. Cecchinato just won in Budapest, but Fognini should defeat him and Guido Pella/Marton Fucsovics to reach the quarters. I’ll back Diego Schwartzman to beat Dustin Brown and Max Marterer to get to the same stage, with Fognini reaching the semis.
2016 ATP Umag Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The seaside town of Umag in Croatia hosts a player favorite ATP 250 tournament in a week full of clay court 250 action.
Konzum Croatia Open Umag
ATP World Tour 250
July 18-24, 2016
Prize Money: €463,520
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Pablo Cuevas (20)
2: Joao Sousa (32)
3: Jeremy Chardy (38)
4: Fabio Fognini (39)
Although it lacks an elite field, Umag has a lot of competitive balance this week.
First round matchups to watch:
Gastao Elias vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
A battle of ATP semifinalists last week, Elias reached the semis in Bastad, while GGL did the same in Hamburg, and now they will battle in round 1 on clay a week later. Elias has a game good enough to compete with GGL, but the Spaniard is the favorite.
(6)Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Andreas Seppi
Seppi comes off Davis Cup play, while PCB has been solid enough on clay this year. Seppi is slightly better known, but the seeded Spaniard deserves to be called the favorite in this clay court match.
Former champion Pablo Cuevas is the top seed, and looks set to reach at least the semifinals, as long as he can get past Elias or GGL in his first match. 19 year old Nino Serdarusic, or veteran Teymuraz Gabashvili will face the Seppi/PCB winner for a spot in the quarters opposite Cuevas. Cuevas was a finalist in Hamburg most recently, and unless he’s fatigued, he’ll improve on his 21-7 clay mark this season and defeat likely PCB as well to reach the semis.
Fabio Fognini will face qualifier Andre Ghem or Hamburg semifinalist Renzo Olivo in round 2. Fognini comes off Davis Cup weekend, and although Olivo could upset him, you have to assume the veteran Italian dirtballer will find a way to win. Doubles specialist Franko Skugor has been a surprise to make this many ATP main draws, although he’s a wild card this time, but Thomas Fabbiano should defeat him in round 1, while Nicolas Almagro does the same against Damir Dzumhur. Almagro losing to Fognini is my pick in the quarters. It’s a tough section to predict, but Fognini has more upside these days on clay.
Joao Sousa has been poor on clay this year, but Leonardo Mayer has been struggling, and wild card Nikola Mektic lacks ATP experience. Sousa into the quarters opposite Hamburg champion Martin Klizan is my pick. Klizan should roll past Enrique Lopez-Perez, then Andrej Martin or Sergiy Stakhovsky. Klizan keeps playing well at the ATP 500 level, and suddenly had a tremendous week in Hamburg on clay. Coming out of injuries, Klizan vs. Sousa makes sense as a result on clay.
Jeremy Chardy is merely 6-6 on clay this year, setting up a good chance he’ll suffer an early defeat as the #3 seed. However, Aljaz Bedene is in poor form, and qualifier Nikola Cacic has little ATP experience, which makes Bedene a defacto favorite for the quarterfinals opposite Jiri Vesely. A struggling Vesely had Davis Cup weekend and opens with qualifier Michael Linzer, with either unfit Filip Krajinovic or Carlos Berlocq set for the next round. Berlocq is in solid form, but I have a feeling Vesely will still upset him, and then lose to Chardy in the quarterfinals, as they both play power tennis.
2016 ATP Hamburg Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 500 level tournament this week is in Hamburg, Germany as a host of top ATP players will transition from grass back to clay in search of prize money and ranking points. Here is your preview of the German Tennis Championships, along with predictions.
German Tennis Championships 2016
ATP World Tour 500
July 11-17, 2016
Prize Money: €1,388,830
Top 4 seeds (ATP rankings in parentheses)
1: Philipp Kohlschreiber (22)
2: Benoit Paire (23)
3: Pablo Cuevas (24)
4: Alexander Zverev (28)
For a 500 level tournament Hamburg has one of the weakest fields it’s ever had. The absence of a dominant favorite means a lot of ranking points are on offer for players outside of the level of ATP stars.
First round matchups to watch:
(3)Pablo Cuevas vs. (WC)Florian Mayer
Mayer is 2-0 in the h2h against the much higher ranked Cuevas, a solid clay court player himself. The veteran German recently won Halle, although he hasn’t been as good with his funky game on clay compared to grass. This could turn into quite the battle, on clay, Cuevas is the current favorite.
Despite a poor showing at Wimbledon, veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber is solid on clay, and tends to play well in Germany. Kohlschreiber’s path to the quarters is Carlos Berlocq, followed by Nicolas Kicker or Thomas Fabbiano. Berlocq has been in good form on clay, so I have him reaching the quarters if Kohlschreiber is still injured. However, Kohlschreiber over Kicker is the pick in my bracket.
Jeremy Chardy faces Maximo Gonzalez in round 1. The French veteran is solid enough on clay to get past Gonzalez, and the Mikhail Youzhny/Renzo Olivo winner to reach the quarterfinals, although I have him losing to Kohlschreiber at that stage.
Pablo Cuevas looks set to dominate his section if he can get past his opener with Mayer. The young Brazilian Thiago Monteiro qualified and looks set to defeat Mischa Zverev before facing Cuevas. Nicolas Almagro is Cuevas likely quarterfinal opponent. Although qualifier Jan Satral is on a winning streak, he’s likely not up to Almagro’s level, and he’s making his ATP debut. In round 2, Gerald Melzer or Paul-Henri Mathieu await, and neither are top players compared to Almagro on clay. Cuevas over Almagro is my pick in the quarters given Cuevas is better on clay than Almagro these days.
The streaky Benoit Paire has an interesting opener with veteran Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Traver has been solid on the challenger tour as of late, and he’s a steady dirtballer. Paire could crash and burn, but I have him winning his round 1 match, then going on to defeat J.L. Struff (or Daniil Medvedev) in round 2. Struff is in poor form, while Medvedev lacks ATP seasoning. Look for a finally healthy Martin Klizan to find form again and defeat Igor Sijsling and qualifier Steve Diez or wild card Louis Wessels, in his ATP debut, to reach the quarters. I have Klizan upsetting Paire as well. The Slovak got off to a hot start in 2016 before suffering an unfortunate injury that kept him off the tour for months.
Alexander Zverev is a solid young player and the highlight of the German tennis championships this year. Zverev opens with journeyman dirtballer Inigo Cervantes, with Leonardo Mayer or Stephane Roberto follow. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez should reach the quarters as well, he opens with Kenny De Schepper, with Grega Zemlja or wild card Marvin Moeller to follow. Mayer has been in terrible form, and GGL isn’t in great form either, so the challenger star Cervantes is most likely Zverev’s toughest test. He should pass it with flying colors.
Klizan could burst through and win the title, but I do have him reaching as far as the semifinals. He has a game well suited for success in many ATP matches, and he showed highlights of his great skill and power game earlier this year before he was injured. With Paire one of the weaker #2 seeds in tournaments this year, conditions are ripe for an upset.
Semis: Cuevas d. Kohlschreiber
Zverev d. Klizan
With injury concerns an issue for Kohlschreiber, I have Cuevas reaching the final, while little stands in the way of Zverev doing the same.
After reaching two ATP finals this year, Zverev has to hope the third time is the charm if he reaches the final in Hamburg. With the home crowd cheering him on, Zverev should take his first ATP title at the same venue he made his ATP breakthrough a couple of years ago.
Martin Klizan won his fourth career ATP title in a surprise over Gael Monfils 6-7(1) 6-3 6-1. Monfils was in control of play until the wheels came off, and his mental weakness once again reared its ugly head in an ATP final.
The hard hitting Slovak won all but one of his matches in three sets this week and an unexpected champion at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. He beat Tommy Robredo in three sets, Marcos Baghdatis in straights, and then both Roberto Bautista Agut and Nicolas Mahut after dropping the first set in a tiebreak. Grit and fight was the story of the week for him.
Monfils beat Ernests Gulbis, slipped past Borna Coric in three sets, and then defeated Alex Zverev and Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the final.
Mahut and Vasek Pospisil defeated Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya in the doubles final as it was a strong week for Nico Mahut.
Dominic Thiem won his fourth career ATP title and continued his rise up the ATP rankings with a surprise result in Buenos Aires. Thiem won a nip and tuck three set match over Nicolas Almagro 7-6(2) 3-6 7-6(4). The young Austrian #1 stunned Rafael Nadal in a third set tiebreak in the semifinals as he went toe to toe with the king of clay and came out on top in the pressure points.
Thiem also beat Pablo Carreno Busta, Gastao Elias, and Dusan Lajovic in BA this past week. Nicolas Almagro reached his first ATP title since early 2014 with wins over Albert Montanes, Federico Delbonis in 3 sets, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and David Ferrer, the latter two were upset wins.
Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah beat Inigo Cervantes and an in form Paolo Lorenzi to win the doubles title.
Kei Nishikori dropped just one set this week as he won his fourth career title in Memphis. The Japanese #1 has dominated the southern tournament, and he took out teenage finalist Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-4. Fritz reached an ATP final in just his third career ATP tournament as an 18 year old. The American has a well rounded game, both defensively and offensively, and he got off to a 3-0 lead against Nishikori, only to surrender the first set, and then get broken in the second set and lose the match in straights.
Nishikori beat Ryan Harrison, Mikhail Kukushkin, and Sam Querrey this week, dropping that lone set to Querrey. Fritz beat young gun Michael Mmoh, Steve Johnson, Benjamin Becker in a third set tiebreak, and Ricardas Berankis in three sets as well to reach the final. Fritz is the first American to reach an ATP final after just three career events and has a bright future ahead. He’s nearly into the top 100, with barely any ranking points to defend.
Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Santiago Gonzalez beat Johnson/Querrey to retain the doubles final.
2015 ATP Beijing and Tokyo Previews and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
ATP World Tour 500*
October 5-October 11, 2015
Prize Money: $2,700,510
*denotes joint ATP/WTA tournament
Top 8 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Tomas Berdych (5)
3: Rafael Nadal (7)
4: David Ferrer (8)
5: Milos Raonic (9)
6: John Isner (13)
7: David Goffin (15)
8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (16)
Half of the top 10 and a good portion of the top 20 are in Beijing, in what is one of the strongest China Open fields ever.
Millman beat Robredo this year at Wimbledon, and the qualifier leads the h2h 2-0 against the Spaniard, including a hard court win in Sydney back in 2013. Robredo is in good form though as he reached the semifinals in Shenzen, and prior to that, the quarterfinals in St. Petersburg. Robredo looks to continue his good Fall season thus far with a win in this one, but Millman found form in qualifying and will have a chance in this one if Tommy ends up being fatigued.
(6)John Isner vs. Dominic Thiem
The big serving Isner lost to the ball striker Thiem on clay this year in Nice, and has a solid shot at avenging that loss on a much faster surface in Beijing, that should favor his aggressive style of play. Thiem is 4-2 in his last six matches and reached the semis in St. Petersburg though, while Isner has been known to struggle after the US Open historically. I’d expect Isner to win this, but it should be an entertaining encounter.
(7)David Goffin vs. Andreas Seppi
Two of the best ball strikers in the game will face off as Goffin continues to try to make a push for the top 10 before the year is out. The Belgian didn’t lose an opening round hard court match all Summer and he should be favored against Seppi, who is playing for the first time since winning a pair of US Open matches. Goffin is a heavy favorite, but Seppi will try to spoil his hopes.
Fognini is 3-2 in the h2h against Klizan and both players look to be in good form as Klizan’s power matches up against Fognini’s ball striking and shotmaking. The Italian is 5-1 in his last 6 matches and will try to stay focused, while Klizan is 10-3 in his last few tournaments and comes off of the semifinals in Metz. Given this is a hard court surface and Klizan is notably more consistent, I’ll go with the Slovak to pull of a minor upset in this one.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. Ivo Karlovic
GGL is 3-1 in the h2h over Karlovic and has a shot at taking the title in Shenzen after reaching the final with a win over Marin Cilic. The Spanish veteran is 5-2 in his last seven matches, while Karlovic comes off of a quarterfinal loss in Malaysia to Nick Kyrgios. The big server is always dangerous on this surface and could take advantage of a fatigued GGL to pull off the upset.
Five time Beijing Champion Novak Djokovic, the world #1, will begin his quest for a fourth straight China Open title against qualifier Simone Bolelli. Bolelli is in good form but should lack the consistency to test Novak, from there look for Djokovic to crush qualifier Denis Istomin, who opens with Chinese wild card Ze Zhang, and then beat John Isner in the quarterfinals, presuming Isner beats Thiem and Robredo/Millman. Isner beat Robredo in Beijing last year at the same round of 16 stage. Djokovic should buzzsaw himself to the semis.
Kuala Lumpur champion David Ferrer continues his quest to secure a World Tour Finals top 8 berth, and opens with Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci in round 1. Ferrer improved as he went along in Malaysia and should win that one and a match against the winner of Aljaz Bedene/Lukas Rosol to reach the quarterfinals. Bedene is in relatively good form and leads Rosol 2-0 in the h2h. The Czech is struggling to some extent. Ferrer is almost certain to meet Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals, Raonic opens with a struggling Viktor Troicki, and then will serve it up against Rendy Lu/Adrian Mannarino. Mannarino retired in his last match, while Lu has also struggled to stay healthy. Ferrer is 4-0 against the St. Petersburg champion Raonic and thus I have him finding a way to reach the semifinals.
Shenzen finalist and possible champion Tomas Berdych should continue his winning streak and defeat dirtballer Pablo Cuevas in round 1, after that, he’ll also be a favorite against Garcia-Lopez/Karlovic in what could be a rematch of the Shenzen final. In he quarters, Goffin vs. Berdych is an intriguing matchup. Goffin has a difficult draw with Seppi and Fognini/Klizan in his first two matches. Berdych is 1-0 in the h2h against Goffin, but I’m bullish on the Belgian’s form right now, and I have him upsetting an inconsistent Berdych to reach the semifinals. Of note, Karlovic has a good record against Berdych, so if he gets through that could spell trouble.
Rafael Nadal should win his first couple of matches, even on a hard court surface in a down year for the Spanish lefty. Di Wu, a local wild card, is his first opponent, and then he’ll face Vasek Pospisil most likely in round 2, presuming Vasek defeats Victor Estrella. Pospisil comes off of the quarterfinals in Kuala Lumpur. Nadal should have a difficult quarterfinal against most likely Metz champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Tsonga opens with Andreas Haider-Maurer). After AHM, Tsonga should face off with young American Jack Sock in round 2. Sock, who opens with Teymuraz Gabashvili, is in good form but Tsonga has been in vintage form as of late and I’d favor him over both Sock and Nadal to reach the semifinals.
Klizan has to beat Fognini, and then would need to upset Goffin and Berdych, but he beat Nadal in Beijing last year and he has the talent to post those kind of results. The seeds should excel here, but Klizan is most likely to spoil the party.
Semis Djokovic d. Ferrer
Tsonga d. Goffin
Djokovic should cruise his way into the final no matter who he faces in the semis, Tsonga is 3-2 against Goffin and I feel his form is slightly better at the moment, giving him an edge.
Final Djokovic d. Tsonga
I’d be shocked if Novak didn’t win this title, he has an unblemished record in Beijing and no one is strong enough to stop him right now.
The Kuala Lumpur finalist Lopez is 2-0 in the h2h against Sousa and has been in excellent form over his last few tournaments. The serve and volleyer should be a favorite in this one, but the St. Petersburg finalist Sousa would love to spoil his good form. Sousa is a quality ball striker and will try to push Flopez back, I have Lopez winning this but it’s an interesting style contrast.
(5)Kevin Anderson vs. Gilles Muller
Anderson is 2-1 in the h2h against Muller, both big servers tend to play a large number of tiebreaks and this match is unlikely to be any different. Muller reached the quarterfinals in Metz and he’s had a solid season, but Anderson has stepped up big this year and the US Open quarterfinalist has a great chance to make a run in Tokyo. Muller is good, but Anderson is better, and the South African should demonstrate his superior abilities in this one.
(8)Grigor Dimitrov vs. Benoit Paire
Paire leads the h2h 2-1 against a struggling Dimitrov (2-2 in his last four matches), and if the Frenchman can find form and consistency, he could notch a quality upset in this one. He wasn’t healthy in St. Petersburg, and retired in his first match, but he reached the second week of the US Open and he certainly has all the shots to win this one. I still make Dimitrov a slight favorite, but this matchup has an upset written all over it.
(4)Richard Gasquet vs. Roberto Bautista Agut
Gasquet and RBA have a 1-1 h2h record, and RBA is 5-2 in his last tow tournaments. It hasn’t been a great season for the Spaniard, but he appears to be rounding into solid form. Gasquet, a US Open quarterfinalist, had a solid summer overall and looks to continue that in the Fall. He’s a better all around shotmaker than RBA and I’d consider him the favorite in this intriguing matchup.
A battle of unseeded players with talent on hard courts. Johnson has beaten Tomic twice this year, but both those matches were close and Bernie hasn’t lost an opening round match since his loss to Johnson in Washington. Stevie J is on a three match losing streak and this win would be a huge confidence boost for the American. Regardless of the h2h, I have Tomic as the favorite.
(2)Kei Nisihkori vs. Borna Coric
Coric acquired a seven match winning streak on clay after his opening round US Open loss, but now he’s going into the lions den that is Tokyo to face home favorite Kei Nishikori in front of what should be a sold out, and rowdy Japanese crowd. The young talent is in good form, but Nisihkori played well in Davis Cup play for team Japan and has his sights set on the title here in Tokyo. It’s not the easiest opening match to start with, but Nisihkori should get through.
Stan Wawrinka was injured in Metz, and his first round opponent Radek Stepanek leads the h2h against him 5-1. With that said, Wawrinka is a better player at this point in their careers and with Stepanek not in great form, Stan the man should still get out of the first round. Last year, Wawrinka fell to Tatsuma Ito in Tokyo, and he could get a rematch in round 2, if Ito defeats Yoshi Nishioka, another of the local Japanese wild cards. Nishioka is more talented than Ito and has a brighter future ahead, but their round 1 match is a bit of a tossup. A healthy Wawrinka should reach the quaterfinals, but Lopez could trouble him there. After Sousa, he’ll face Matt Ebden/Austin Krajicek in round 2, both of those players are qualifiers and Ebden plays well in Asia. Wawrinka leads the h2h with Lopez 4-2, but I favor Lopez form at the moment and thus I have him upsetting the #1 seed.
Metz finalist Gilles Simon opens with qualifier Mikhail Youzhny, and then should advance from that to face Jiri Vesely, presuming the Czech defeats Yasutaka Uchiyama. Vesely, a quarterfinalist in Shenzen, is in good form, but Simon’s consistency should likely help him reach the quarterfinals. Muller/Anderson has the edge to reach the semis though, in round 2 it should be Anderson vs Jeremy Chardy/Sam Groth. Groth lost in Kuala Lumpur round 1, and all four players in this section are big hitters. I have Anderson over Simon for a semifinal spot. Anderson leads the h2h with Simon 2-0.
Nishikori didn’t have much luck with his draw, even as the home favorite. After Coric, the two-time Tokyo champion has to face either Alex Dolgopolov or Sam Querrey, and then Shenzen semifinalist Marin Cilic most likely in the quarterfinals. Dolgopolov hasn’t been healthy recently, and Querrey is struggling, both are dangerous, and Cilic has a rivalry with Nishikori, along with bidding to reach the World Tour Finals. Cilic opens with qualifier Donald Young, then will face Tomic/Johnson in round 2. Young is in good form since the US Open. Given Nishikori leads the h2h with Cilic 6-3, and 4-1 since 2013, along with being at home, I still expect Kei to go into playstation mode and reach the semifinals at least.
Gasquet/RBA will face Albert Ramos or Nick Kyrgios in round 2, most likely the dangerous floater Kyrgios. The Kuala Lumpur semifinalist has already played Gasquet five times, and he trails the h2h 1-4, thus Gasquet should beat him for the fourth time this year to reach the quarterfinals. Dimitrov/Paire faces Marcos Baghdatis or Fernando Verdasco in round 2, Dimitrov is vulnerable and that makes his round 2 match intriguing, but I still see him getting past Baghdatis to reach the quarterfinals. Gasquet should then stomp him for a spot in the semis.
You can’t count the volatile but talented Australian to catch fire and serve and smash his way through Gasquet and potentially Dimitrov to reach the semifinals. There are other dark horses like Paire, Sousa, and Baghdatis/Verdasco but he has the highest peak potential right now.
Semis Anderson d. Lopez
Nishikori d. Gasquet
Anderson leads the h2h with a likely tired Lopez 3-0, Nishikori should roll at home.
Final Nishikori d. Anderson
Kev will have a chance, but Tokyo is Nishikori’s to lose, he peaks here as playing in Japan is like another slam for him.
2015 ATP Metz and St. Petersburg Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP World Tour returns with the start of the European fall indoor hard court swing. A pair of 250s are up this week, one in Metz, France, and the other in St. Petersburg, Russia, as that event returns after being absent from the tour calendar last season.
ATP World Tour 250
September 21-September 27, 2015
Prize Money: €439,405
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Stan Wawrinka (4)
2: Gilles Simon (10)
3: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (17)
4: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (31)
Two top 10 players, and three top 20 players gives Metz a quality field for a small indoor 250 at this point in the season.
Kohlschreiber had a successful outing in Davis Cup for Germany over the weekend as he went 2-0, but the former Metz finalist has had a down season at the ATP level thsi year. Additionally, he may have to fight fatigue and jet lag as he’s coming back from the Caribbean with Davis Cup duty. Millman is a talented underachiever who won a pair of challengers over the summer and can play solid tennis at times, Peppo is still the favorite, but this match has some upset potential.
(6)Martin Klizan vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
PHM is playing on home soil, and veteran who relies on solid ballstriking is a relatively solid player indoors. He recently reached the final in Kitzbuhel on clay over the summer, beating his opponent Klizan in the process, and qualified for the US Open. Klizan comes off a 2-0 result in Davis Cup and has an indoor h2h win over Mathieu in Rotterdam (2013, 3 sets) but he’s a streaky player who can ball bash well, or struggle mightily. Depending on what version of Klizan will show up, he’ll either advance with ease or lose in an upset in this matchup of contrasting styles.
(WC)Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky
The US Open doubles champion Herbert recently reached his first ATP title in Winston-Salem, and on home soil with a big serve, he’s a danger to the serve and volleyer Stakhovsky. Stako reached the third round of the US Open and a recent challenger final however (in Istanbul), so his form appears good. An inspired PHH could rock the boat this tournament, and with a recent h2h win over Stako, I have him winning against him again.
(8)Fernando Verdasco vs. Alexander Zverev
Verdasco is just 2-5 since Wimbledon, and he risks dropping that number to 2-6 at the hands of the young gun Zverev. The teenager had a successful summer and qualified for the US Open among other good results. His indoor game isn’t as good as his clay court game, but the big hitting Verdasco has struggled to find rhythm and I’m going to go with an upset and pick Zverev, who is on the upswing of his career, while Verdasco is clearly heading downhill.
Stan Wawrinka was pushed to five sets in his DC singles rubber against the lower ranked Thiemo De Bakker on Friday, but the Swiss #2 is unlikely to have much trouble getting past the first couple of matches in Metz. Wawrinka is 42-13 on the season and also reached the semis of the US Open most recently. Look for him to get past a serve and volleyer in his first match, either Rajeev Ram or the big serving Dustin Brown, who also comes off of DC duty, and then past Kohlschreiber for a spot in the semifinals. Stan the Man is 2-0 in the h2h, and should not only be in better form, but also be fresher than his German counterpart. Both players have elite one handed backhands and it’ll be a fun matchup if it takes place. The Kohlschreiber/Millman winner faces either Belgium’s Davis Cup hero Steve Darcis, or dirtballer Paolo Lorenzi in round 2 with the serve and volleying Darcis likely too tired to make much of an impact this tournament.
Two-time Metz champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was excellent at the US Open, where he reached the quarterfinals, and the aggressive Frenchman tends to play well indoors, and at home. The fan favorite is placed in a weak section that will feature either a qualifier or Pablo Carreno Busta in the round of 16, and by ranking #7 seed Adrian Mannarino in the quarterfinals. Nicolas Mahut, the other half of the winning US Open doubles team, could prove to be a bit of a dark horse if the serve and volleyer can get his game together and beat a struggling Federico Delbonis (a loser of 5 straight matches) and Mannarino, who has been streaky this season. All of the French players are fan favorites at home, but Tsonga is a clear favorite to reach the semis for a likely matchup against Wawrinka. I have Mahut slipping past Mannarino, though it’s hard to tell with Adrian.
Two-time Metz champion Gilles Simon, another of the French fan favorites at this tournament, will open with a qualifier and from there should advance to face the big serving and dangerous Gilles Muller in the quarterfinals. Muller opens with Aljaz Bedene as he looks to snap a 3 match losing streak. The serve and volleyer is at his best on fast surfaces and I see him slipping past the Verdasco/Zverev winner in a potentially close match. Simon beat Muller last year in Tokyo, and I see him earning a pair of wins to snap a four match losing streak and reach the semifinals.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez won a pair of matches at the US Open to improve his form, but of the four top seeds, he’s still the most likely to exit before the quarterfinals, as the Herbert/Stakhovsky winner could stymie him with their unique styles of play. The Spanish veteran has won a title on indoor hard courts this season though and he has more experience than Herbert in a tough section. The other quarterfinalist will be one of Aleksandr Nedovyesov/Vasek Pospisil/Klizan/Mathieu, with Mathieu my favorite out of the section. Pospisil also has talent but he’s inconsistent, so look for Mathieu past Pospisil, and then Garcia-Lopez over Mathieu in a wide open section.
Frenchmen Herbert, Mathieu, and Mahut could all serve as unseeded dark horses this week, but with the #2 seed Simon struggling, if Muller serves well he could reach the semifinals, and potentially the final out of the bottom half. After gaining some rest, he should be fresh and he plays well on these types of surfaces historically.
Semis: Wawrinka d. Tsonga
Simon d. Garcia-Lopez
Tsonga has a h2h win in Metz (2007) but the previous few meetings have gone in favor of Wawrinka, and the Swiss has clearly outperformed his French counterpart this year, and in recent memory. Wawrinka simply should be a cut above his semifinal opposition.
Simon is in a slump but he’s 5-0 in the h2h against GGL, so if he gets this far, he should reach another Metz final.
Final: Wawrinka d. Simon
Presuming Wawrinka devotes effort to this 250 tournament he should win it, he’s the best player in the field by a considerable margin, and a player like Simon won’t be in the form to match him toe to toe right now.
ATP St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg Open
ATP World Tour 250
St. Petersburg, Russia
September 21-September 27, 2015
Prize Money: $1,030,000
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Tomas Berdych (5)
2: Milos Raonic (9)
3: Dominic Thiem (20)
4: Roberto Bautista Agut (22)
Even without the strong contingent of home players that Metz sports, St. Petersburg returns to the ATP Tour after funding problems last season with a strong field that features two top 10, and three top 20 players in what should be an entertaining edition of the tournament.
Their teams faced each other in Davis Cup over the weekend, with Bolelli and Italy emerging victorious, but now the young gun Rublev would like to extract some personal revenge for that loss at home in St. Petersburg, where he is one of the stars of the tournament, and the future of Russian tennis at the moment. The teenager qualified for the US Open, snapping a summer of struggles, but his loss in Davis Cup to Fabio Fognini should dent his momentum a bit. Bolelli, a solid player indoors, is also the loser of three straight however and the Italian veteran is looking to gain momentum himself. Look for big hitting in this matchup, and as celebrated as Rublev is, I have Bolelli grinding out the win.
(6)Benoit Paire vs. Jerzy Janowicz
Janowicz beat Paire in three sets earlier this year on indoor hard, but Paire has had a much better season than Jerzy and has been in excellent form since the summer. The French all-courter and his one handed backhand reached the second week of the US Open while Janowicz is 2-3 over his last five, which includes Davis Cup duty over the weekend. Janowicz with his power game is also solid indoors, but I have Paire winning this matchup of talented but often underachieving players.
Marcos Baghdatis vs. Ernests Gulbis
Two aggressive baseliners will face off in this one, Gulbis one the 2013 edition of St. Petersburg, while Baghdatis is 0-3 since suffering an abductor injury in the ATP Atlanta final back in July. Gulbis has lost four straight and, like Baghdatis, his last match ended in a retirement, as both guys have struggled to get healthy. A poor season for Gulbis is contrasted by a good season overall for Baghdatis, and I have the Cypriot notching the victory presuming his health has sorted itself out. Baghdatis is 3-0 in the hard court h2h.
Tomas Berdych had a poor summer by his top 10 standards, but the Czech is still 45-15 on the season and should have the inside track against Bolelli/Rublev. In the quarterfinals, look for him to face Australian young gun Thanasi Kokkinakis. Kokkinakis opens with pedestrian Spanish veteran Marcel Granollers, and then he’ll face either Joao Sousa or a qualifier in round 2. Both Sousa and Kokkinakis come off of Davis Cup play but Sousa is in poor form, and although he’s had a lot of success on indoor hard, I have Kokkinakis winning that matchup. Berdych should power past Kokkinakis at that stage however.
#3 seed Dominic Thiem reached the third round of the US Open in a decent showing for the Austrian, and he’ll look to continue to improve on fast surfaces with a routine win over Daniel Gimeno-Traver or newlywed Andreas Haider-Maurer in round 2, as both players much prefer clay. In the quarterfinals, Mikhail Kukushkin could prove to be the dark horse, as he opens with a relatively struggling Denis Istomin and then will face a qualifier or the mightily slumping Benjamin Becker in round 2. Kukushkin played well at the US Open and beat Istomin at the start of the season, his game tends to peak for these smaller 250 events. Thiem and Kukushkin have never played one another, but Kukushkin’s hard court form is arguably better right now, and I have him scoring the rankings upset and reaching the semis.
Milos Raonic has struggled since Wimbledon with a pedestrian 2-3 record. The Canadian #1 hasn’t been the same with his rocket serve since foot surgery, but he’s playing an easy match to open in St. Petersburg against either Evgeny Donskoy or a qualifier. Donskoy, a wild card, has been in excellent form at the challenger tour level this summer but Raonic should still prove too much for him. In the quarters he’s likely to face another player in a slump, as the Baghdatis/Gulbis winner or Tommy Robredo/Mikhail Youzhny are options. The 33 year old Robredo has had a far superior season to Youzhny, so though Youzhny is playing on home soil, Robredo should get through, and likely get past Baghdatis/Gulbis as well, as they may be rusty in their own right. Raonic is 4-0 against Robredo in the h2h with all wins coming since 2013, so with that in mind the Canadian should make the semifinals.
Roberto Bautista Agut is 29-23 this season and comes off a second week showing in the US Open that should give him some good momentum in what has been a rather average year by his standards. Russian Davis Cup participant Teymuraz Gabashvili, presuming Gaba beats a qualifier, should await him in round 2, and Gabashvili is a player capable of crafting upsets, like he did against Andy Murray this summer in Washington. RBA is the section favorite, but Gabashvili could find form and reach the quarters, though he’s not my pick to do so. Paire/Janowicz or Ricardas Berankis/Lucas Pouille will await most likely ether RBA or Gabashvili at that stage. Presuming Paire continues his run of form, which is always in question, I look for him to make it that far before falling to RBA. Berankis has also been in good form as of late with his undersized game. RBA is 7-0 in the h2h against Paire.
If a non seed is going to reach the semifinals or better, Berankis is the player to watch, he’s just 5-8 but he’s always been talented and he’s one of the better pure baseline ball strikers on the ATP tour. He reached consecutive quarterfinals on the US Open Series this summer and he plays well on fast indoor surfaces. Paire/Janowicz are streaky, and RBA/Gabashvili are beatable, so it’s far from out of the question that the Lithuanian will do well at a tournament that is close to home for him.
Semis: Berdych d. Kukushkin
Raonic d. Bautista Agut
Berdych is simply better than Kukushkin and has a h2h win, so like Wawrinka in Metz, if the top seed puts his efforts into this tournament, he’s the favorite. Raonic has a h2h win over RBA last year in Paris, an indoor tournament, and he should be motivated to fight hard this fall on fast surfaces to gain some ranking points after a slow Summer.
2015 Davis Cup Semifinals and World Group Playoffs Preview Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A pair of semifinals take place starting Friday in the 2015 Davis Cup, along with the entire World Group Playoffs, with teams looking to move up to the world group or hang on to a coveted world group spot after an early exit in the world group main draw earlier on in the season.
Tennis Atlantic will have onsite coverage as Australia travels to Glasgow, Scotland a raucous Emirates Arena for a commonwealth battle with team GB. The British have Andy Murray once more on indoor hard courts, and presuming he’s in shape, it’s likely he’ll be able to win his pair of singles rubbers over Thanasi Kokkinakis and likely Bernard Tomic on Friday and Sunday. This tie should come down to the doubles, as Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt, the veteran rock of the Australian team, are set to do battle with either Dominic Inglot/Jamie Murray, or perhaps the Murray brothers, or Inglot/Andy Murray depending on what team GB captain Leon Smith decides.
Challenger tour level player Dan Evans was an interesting choice for this tie, and is likely to be an afterthought against Tomic/Kokkinakis in singles. With all that said, we could well be looking at Evans in a live 5th rubber, and I give Australia a slight edge in this tie with a strong doubles pairing as long as their team doesn’t implode with so many combustible personalities. Tomic, of course, has his problems with Tennis Australia for starters.
The Belgians get home court advantage and thus get to hold this tie on a favorable indoor hard court surface in Brussels. That fact alone makes them the favorite in this tie, as David Goffin and his veteran teammate Steve Darcis should be able to manage three wins in singles alone against the Argentina pairing of Federico Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer that is scheduled for the singles rubbers.
Goffin has been in good form as of late, and Delbonis is poor on hard courts, though Mayer can play solid tennis at times and may have an edge over Darcis. In doubles it’s scheduled to be Kimmer Coppejans/Ruben Bemelmans against Carlos Berlocq/Diego Schwartzman, and given the surface, the Belgians also have an advantage there. In a surprising result, Belgium should see itself in the Davis Cup final, though they aren’t a powerhouse tennis nation.
India gets home court on outdoor hard but they face a Czech team with stronger players and more experience in Davis Cup. Yuki Bhambri and his teammate Somdev Devvarman, both of whom rank outside the ATP top 100 are expected to play singles against top 100 Czechs Jiri Vesely and Lukas Rosol while the veteran pairing of Leander Paes/Rohan Bopanna should have a minor edge over Radek Stepanek/Adam Pavlasek in doubles.
Vesely should be able to win both his singles matches, but look for Bhambri to potentially rise coming off of a challenger title. He’s a talented player and could shock Rosol in the opening rubber. With that said, the Czechs have a rankings and talent edge here and I have them pulling out a win.
At home on indoor hard it would be a shock if the Swiss won by anything less than a 3-0 sweep. That is due to the fact that the fearsome tandem of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are playing to keep them in the World Group against a Dutch squad lacking a top 100 player. The Dutch have underachievers Thiemo De Bakker, Jesse Huta Galung, Matwe Middelkoop, and Tim Van Rijthoven on their squad and they are facing a Swiss Goliath in this one. Barring an injury or change in the Swiss lineup, they should win this with ease, and Marco Chiudinelli and Henri Laaksonen will be able to get experience in the dead rubbers.
Italy has a solid veteran team but they do have to travel to Russia for this indoor hard court battle. Fabio Fognini, coming off his first hard court wins of the season in a strong US Open showing will look to continue the momentum against Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Teymuraz Gabashvili, and if he wins those matches, the pressure will fall on either Simone Bolelli or Andreas Seppi/Paolo Lorenzi to provide the tie clinching victory.
Rublev is a gutsy young gun battler and Gabashvili is a talented shotmaker at times, but outside of the combustible Fognini, the Italian team seems to have a consistency advantage on their side. Evgeny Donskoy and Konstantin Kravchuk round out the Russian team that will need a true team effort to pull this off. Bolelli could falter, but Seppi and Fognini should be good enough to get the job done and keep Italy in the World Group.
Uzbekistan has the huge advantage of getting to face team USA on red clay at home, and they could be facing a jet lagged USA due to the sheer difference in location. This is a tough test for American tennis which could see itself exiled from the World Group once more, if Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov can pull off an upset.
Team USA captain Jim Courier is going with some new faces on the team this time, with Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, and Donald Young joining veteran presence Sam Querrey. A lot of pressure will ride on Sock, who is the best clay court player on this team (he won an ATP title on clay this year in Houston) but is coming off of a heat stroke at the US Open, which could factor into his fitness. Istomin is a streaky player and Dustov is a challenger level player in poor form, so most likely Dustov will lose twice, and it may come down to Johnson/Querrey doubles to decide the tie. We could be looking at a live fifth rubber, but some how, some way, a unified Team USA should survive.
Outdoors on clay team Colombia will have a chance against Kei Nishikori and Japan, but presuming Nishikori has resolved the injury that hurt him at the US Open, the team from the land of the rising sun are favorites in this tie. The veteran pairing of Santiago Giraldo and Alejandro Falla, along with doubles specialist tandem Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah are back for Colombia, while Japan has Nishikori, the young Yoshihito Nishioka, Yasutaka Uchiyama for doubles, and Taro Daniel, who is solid on clay, for singles.
The Colombians with a specialist doubles tandem should win that rubber, and pressure will fall on an out of form Giraldo to snap his slump and get past the still challenger level Daniel, who poses a threat to him. Presuming Nishikori is raring to play, look for him to beat Falla/Giraldo, and a live fifth rubber could be quite interesting in this one, especially in regards to which player, besides Nishikori, Japan will nominate for it. Cases can be made for the speedy Nishioka, or Daniel, based on how Daniel plays on Friday, but in the end I don’t feel Colombia is in good enough form to win this tie at the moment.
Germany, even on the road on hard courts in the Dominican Republic, are heavy favorites in this rubber simply because the DR has no top 200 players outside of veteran wonder Victor Estrella, who isn’t in world beating form at the moment. The German team has veterans Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benjamin Becker, with Philipp Petzschner and Dustin Brown for doubles. while the DR rounds out their team with Jose Hernandez-Fernandez, Roberto Cid, and Jose Olivares, an 18 year old.
Becker is in horrible form for this tie, and may lose his rubber, but Kohlschreiber and the German doubles tandem should be enough on their own to get the job done, as Estrella in his current form is not going to be able to do it all. I’m surprised Germany didn’t nominate Brown for singles over Becker.
Brazil gets home clay for this tie against European tennis power Croatia and if the veteran Thomaz Bellucci can step up, they may just pull off a big win over a weakened Croat team. Joining Bellucci are Joao Souza, a dirtballer, and Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares for doubles. Croatia matches with the young gun Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, and Franko Skugor for doubles, and Mate Delic as a second singles player.
Bellucci is in good form and should cruise past the challenger level Delic, while Coric presents a tougher test, but a winnable one all the same. Along with that, Brazil has a clear edge in doubles with their specialist pairing, and Delic should prove the weak link that sends Brazil through even though Souza is in abysmal form.
This closely matched European battle matches former Eastern Bloc nations on indoor hard court in Poland. Jerzy Janowicz, Michal Przysiezny, Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski, the latter two for doubles, make up the Polish squad, while Slovakia counters with Martin klizan, Norbert Gombos, Andrej Martin, and Igor Zelenay, a doubles specialist.
Like a couple of the other WG playoff ties, this one could go either way and the potential Janowicz vs. Klizan Sunday clash may be what swings the tie. Klizan should be able to beat challenger level Przysiezny, and Gombos is a close match for him, while Janowicz is the wild card depending on his streaky form. The Polish team likely has an edge in doubles, so if Janowicz plays well, Poland should win, if he fails however, the advantage shifts to Slovakia. Given home court advantage, I’m favoring Poland by a hair in this one.
Action Outside of the World Group
Relatively few notable matches will take place outside of the World Group semis and playoffs this weekend, but Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer have gotten the Spanish Armada back together again and should steamroll a weak Danish team in Denmark to hold onto group 1 status. Likewise Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania are sure to have an edge at home against a Ukrainian team that lacks their best two players. Joao Sousa and Portugal face Belarus, and Gonzalo Lama and Chile face Venezuela.
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.