Home Hero Dominic Thiem Hopes to Lift ATP Kitzbuhel Trophy Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP 250 on clay in Kitzbuhel closes out the ATP clay court season as some of the ATP’s best on the surface look to maximize their points and money with one final set of matches.
Dominic Thiem is very good on clay, and should be thrilled to get the chance to show that in his home country. The top seed faces Sebastian Ofner or qualifier Martin Klizan first up, with Dusan Lajovic likely to defeat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, and then Dennis Novak/Jurij Rodionov in round 2. Thiem should take the section though Klizan and Lajovic are not pushovers on the surface.
Robin Haase is a former champ but I have him falling to Yannick Hanfmann or Jaume Munar in the second round. Hamburg champion Nikoloz Basilashvili opens with Laslo Djere, he should be fatigued so the Gstaad semifinalist Djere should advance. I have Djere beating Taro Daniel or J.L. Struff and then Hanfmann in the quarters.
Phillip Kohlschreiber is the defending champion, he should get Federico Delbonis/Denis Istomin in round 2. Kohli is the favorite to reach the quarters while I have an in-form Jurgen Zopp running the table past Max Marterer and Corentin Moutet/Mikhail Kukushkin before falling to Kohlschreiber.
I’ll back the in-form Nicolas Jarry to defeat Roberto Carballes Baena and Fernando Verdasco to reach the quarters. Gilles Simon should edge an exhausted Matteo Berrettini while Jozef Kovalik is in good enough form to get past Radu Albot and Simon. I’ll take Jarry to beat Kovalik in the quarters.
Rising Marco Cecchinato the Star of ATP Umag Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Despite losing the World Cup final in Moscow, the fun loving nation of Croatia is ready to host another edition of the ATP Umag 250 on clay. Here is your look at all the action.
With the withdrawal of top seed Kyle Edmund, Albert Ramos will start in a reseeded position against Dusan Lajovic or Nikoloz Basilashvili. On clay I’ll back Ramos to edge Lajovic and reach the quarters. Guido Pella should be favored to defeat Taro Daniel, and Aljaz Bedene/Joao Sousa to reach the quarters opposite Ramos, with Ramos favored at that stage.
Andrey Rublev, the defending champ, is hoping to be fit as he returns to tour after a few weeks off due to injury. Rublev will face a qualifier or Felix Auger Aliassime, with Robin Haase, Nicolas Jarry, or a qualifier lurking in the quarters. I’ll pick a qualifier against Jarry in this section, with the Chilean Jarry emerging the winner, Rublev will likely have a slow return.
The bottom half features a relatively pedestrian (on clay) Damir Dzumhur facing either a struggling Paolo Lorenzi or journeyman Evgeny Donskoy. I’ll take Dzumhur to win the section and emerge opposite Marton Fucsovics or Benoit Paire. I have Fucsovics winning the quarter with wins over Paire and a qualifier, then Dzumhur.
Pablo Cuevas has played himself back into a bit of form and will open against Laslo Djere, presuming he can defeat the in-form Djere, he’ll face Max Marterer or wild card Nino Serdarusic in round 2. Marterer should win the section and end up opposite Marco Cecchinato in the quarters. The rising Cecchinato will be favored over Jiri Vesely/qualifier, and then Marterer in the quarters.
Thursday at the Estoril Open saw the quarterfinal lineup be completed, with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Pablo Carreno Busta, Roberto Carballes Baena and Nicolas Jarry booking their place in the last 8. The first match of the day pitted Cameron Norrie and Carballes Baena, with the Spaniard winning a titanic battle that lasted well over 3 hours in the 3rd set tiebreak. Norrie had plenty of chances to win the match, including serving for the match and 3 consecutive match points on Baena’s serve, but he couldn’t finish it off and the Spaniard that will face off against the ever rising Tsitsipas tomorrow.
Tsitsipas continued his fantastic clay run with another top 10 win, this time over Kevin Anderson. While Anderson is hardly top 10-level on this surface, it’s still another impressive win for the Greek youngster after making the final last week in Barcelona. Tsitsipas wasn’t broken at all in this match.
The night session featured two straight set matches, first a quite straightforward win for last year’s champion Carreno Busta over Kicker and then a real tussle between Jarry and Ojeda. Jarry won in 2 sets, but he had to come back from 1-5 down in the second set tiebreak to get it done in what was a very tight contest for the most part. Carreno Busta and Jarry will face each other in the quarterfinals, with the Spaniard emerging as a clear favorite.
Going into the quarterfinals on Friday, a lot of Portuguese fans are hopeful of finally having a Portuguese champion at the tournament after Frederico Gil barely missed out on the chance back in 2010. João Sousa is still alive (somehow given how close he was to losing to Pedro Sousa) and looking at the draw he seems to have as good a chance as anyone to win it all. His match against Kyle Edmund, semifinalist in Australia, will no doubt be the most eagerly awaited one at Estoril tomorrow for the home fans.
The remaining quarterfinal will be played between Tiafoe and Bolelli, with Tiafoe the favorite, in what will on paper be a very evenly matched contest.
Juan Martin Del Potro won his biggest title in 5 years as he eased past Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-4 in the final. Anderson didn’t appear entirely fit in the final and Del Potro handled his big serve with relative ease.
JMDP defeated Mischa Zverev, David Ferrer (in 3 sets), Dominic Thiem, and Alexander Zverev to reach the final, the last three wins high quality results for the veteran Argentine. Anderson reached his third ATP final of the year by defeating Radu Albot, Adrian Mannarino, Hyeon Chung, and Jared Donaldson, the win over Donaldson coming in three sets.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares won doubles against the Bryan brothers.
It was Roberto Bautista Agut’s finest week on the ATP Tour yet. The 29 year old Spaniard defeated Lucas Pouille 6-3 6-4 in the final, and dropped just one set on the week. Despite a weakened field in Dubai, RBA still scored quality wins against Florian Mayer, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Borna Coric, and Malek Jaziri to reach the final. Jaziri’s dream run in the Middle East coming up short despite upsetting Grigor Dimitrov, Robin Haase, and Stefanos Tsitsipas in consecutive matches.
Pouille defeated Ernests Gulbis, Karen Khachanov, Yuichi Sugita, and Filip Krajinovic to reach the final, dropping sets against everyone but Gulbis and showing his mettle in key third setters. His results in Dubai resulted in his third final of 2018 as the Frenchman has been roaring this year.
Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau defeated Cerretani/Paes in the doubles final.
Fabio Fognini staved off a valiant effort from the rising Nicolas Jarry to take the Sao Paulo 250 final 1-6 6-1 6-4. The result is the 5th career ATP title for the Italian #1 who wrapped up the golden swing with straight set wins over Joao Domingues, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, and Pablo Cuevas to reach the final.
Jarry had a remarkable golden swing, gaining ranking points by reaching the quarters or better in the three tournaments that he played. He had a very tough week in Sao Paulo as he played five three set matches in total. Dusan Lajovic, Guido Pella, Albert Ramos, and Horacio Zeballos were the players who stood in his path, and he took them all down, winning over Pella and Ramos in third set tiebreaks. Jarry rises to #61 in the rankings, a new career high.
Maximo Gonzalez and Federico Delbonis defeated Koolhof/Sitak in the doubles final.
Golden Swing Concludes With 2018 ATP Sao Paulo featuring Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP 250 tournament in Sao Paulo, Brazil concludes the clay court golden swing in South America. A host of South American dirtballers will be joined by Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini, and Albert Ramos in the hunt for an ATP title.
Top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas has not had a great golden swing and really needs to get past Thiago Monteiro (or Guilherme Clezar) in the second round. Monteiro has had some unlucky results lately, and likely loses round 2 to Ramos. Chile’s Nicolas Jarry reached semis in Rio and has had a solid golden swing. He should keep it up against Dusan Lajovic, then defeat Guido Pella or Corentin Moutet in round 2. I’ll back Jarry over Ramos in the quarters given Jarry just beat Ramos in Rio.
Gael Monfils has posted 2 quarters and a semi in his golden swing efforts. He’ll open with Thomaz Bellucci or Horacio Zeballos. Presuming Monfils wins that and reaches the quarters he’ll face either Rogerio Dutra Silva or Nicolas Kicker. Kicker opens with a fading Victor Estrella, Dutra Silva faces Tennys Sandgren. I’ll back Monfils over both Brazilians (Bellucci and RDS) to reach the semis.
Fabio Fognini reached semis in Rio and should get past Renzo Olivo/Joao Domingues in his first match. Federico Delbonis should follow in the quarters. Delbonis faces a potentially unfit Roberto Carballes Baena in round 1. Gerald Melzer or veteran Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will follow. Fognini vs. Delbonis could decide the tournament champion in the quarters. I’ll go with Fognini to reach the semis.
HAAS, KUDLA, AND JARRY RECEIVE WILD CARDS TO CITI OPEN® TENNIS TOURNAMENT MAIN DRAW; @TennisAtlantic to provide on-site coverage all week long
WASHINGTON (July 30, 2015) — Tournament officials announced today the addition of three players receiving main draw wild cards into the strongest Citi Open® Tennis Tournament player field ever — Tommy Haas, Denis Kudla and Nicolás Jarry.
Haas, a perennial fan favorite in the Washington tournament, reached a career-high ranking of world No. 2. He reached the 2012 Citi Open finals in 2012. The German tennis star has won 15 titles over his 19-year professional career.
Kudla recently had his best-ever Grand Slam result by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon, losing in four tough sets to last year’s U.S. Open Champion and 2015 Citi Open participant Marin Cilic. The Arlington, Va., talent is now back into the ATP World Tour top 100 rankings at No. 94.
Jarry, the grandson of Chilean tennis legend Jaime Fillol, will play his first ATP World Tour 500 event in Washington. The 19-year-old’s entry into the field continues the Citi Open’s longstanding tradition of providing young players a platform to excel and jumpstart their careers.
2015 Davis Cup World Group Round 1 Preview Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2015 Davis Cup World Group begins on Friday and runs through Sunday as the sixteen top teams in the World will battle it out to avoid having to fight against relegation, and, to reach the quarterfinals. There are at least two marquee ties this weekend, and six other intriguing ones, all but one of which take place on indoor hard court. Here is a look at all the action in Davis Cup this weekend, with an exception of one of those marquee ties, Great Britain vs. the USA in Glasgow, which our journalist Joe Craven will be previewing since he has media credentials and will have reports from Glasgow through the weekend.
Czech Republic vs. Australia
Australia, my personal favorites to win the Davis Cup this year, have a great shot at pulling off a road upset, and their case for victory is further advanced by the fact the Czechs lack their usual tandem of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek to lead their team in the tie. Berdych and Stepanek are filled in for by Lukas Rosol, and Jiri Vesely both of whom have Davis Cup experience, and Jan Mertl and Adam Pavlasek, who aren’t as experienced. Australia has Davis Cup legend Lleyton Hewitt, who is playing his final DC as a player, and will be taking over as their coach next season, leading a young upstart squad that has Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth, and Thanasi Kokkinakis all available to participate. On indoor hard, and home soil, the Czechs do have at least some chance, but Tomic has had a solid season, Hewitt always ups his game for Davis Cup, and Groth’s powerful serve is always dangerous on this surface. Vesely, and Rosol, the two players expected to play singles for the home team, are both carrying four match losing streaks going into this tie, and with form playing a factor, Australia could well blank their opponents, and at minimum should win 3-1. The young Kokkinakis will be serving as the #2 singles player for the Aussies, and should garner much needed experience.
France won this matchup last year, this year it’ll be on indoor hard in Frankfurt, and the French should still be favored with a team of Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau (a late addition), and Nicolas Mahut. With Mahut on the team as a doubles specialist. The defending Davis Cup finalists will be up against a German team led by Philipp Kohlschreiber, along with Jan-Lennard Struff, Benjamin Becker and doubles specialist Andre Begemann. With Simon and Monfils in better form than Kohlschreiber and company, 2 singles win are likely assured for team France. That said, the play of Struff, and especially Becker will be key if Germany is to pull an upset, both can rise to the occasion, with Struff having some of his previous best results indoors, and Becker in career best form over the past 8 months or so. I don’t expect it to happen, but the chance is there, and if Kohlschreiber was in better form, the German team would pack a stronger punch and this tie would be more of a battle, but as it stands France should get through something like 3-1 or 3-2.
The Pick: France
Canada vs. Japan
Japan won this tie last year, and Kei Nishikori continues to be the marquee player for them, but Canada should be favored given they will be on home soil in Vancouver, and have a stronger all around team with Milos Raonic joined by Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic, and doubles specialist Daniel Nestor. Outside of Nishikori, Japan doesn’t have another top 80 player with Tatsuma Ito, Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama making up the rest of their team. Personally I was surprised that Japan didn’t choose at least one of their young guns, Taro Daniel and Yoshihito Nishioka for the team. Raonic-Nishikori will be a quality singles rubber match, and Raonic won their meeting this year in a third set tiebreak in Brisbane, though Nishikori has a long term 4-2 h2h edge in their rivalry. No matter who wins that, Pospisil has to be favored to go 2-0 in singles, and Pospisil-Nestor is a strong doubles pairing, so look for Canada to win 3-2 or 3-1 no matter the efforts of Nishikori.
The Pick: Canada
Serbia vs. Croatia
If Marin Cilic, or even Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Dodig, were able to represent team Croatia, this tie would be much more competitive, but as it stands, the Croats have no top 100 singles players besides the teenager Borna Coric, who is rising, and coming off a run to the semis in Dubai, but lacks experience. Coric’s “B Team” teammates are Mate Delic, Franko Skugor and Marin Draganja with the latter two expected to serve as doubles specialists. Serbia counters with a very strong team led by Novak Djokovic, who is joined by Viktor Troicki, playing his first Davis Cup in a while, having re-entered the worlds top 50 in singles, Filip Krajinovic, who prefers clay, and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, a battle tested veteran who helps anchor the team. On indoor hard, and on home soil in this battle of the Balkans, the expected Djokovic-Coric singles rubber should be fun to watch (though it may not even take place as it’s currently scheduled for Sunday), but Serbia overall has to be favored to whitewash their opponents 3-0 (and possibly 5-0) with Troicki and their doubles team both formidable.
This tie is perhaps the biggest toss-up of the World Group opening round ties, on clay in Buenos Aires, streaky dirtballers will be battling it out, and I expect a lot of 4 and 5 set matches. Argentina has a motley crue of mid tier clay courters with Leonardo Mayer, Federico Delbonis, Diego Sebastian Schwartzman and Carlos Berlocq, with their team having spent quite some time in Buenos Aires on clay, since this DC tie came right on the heels of the ATP 250 clay court event in Buenos Aires (where Berlocq made the semifinals). Brazil has the veteran Thomaz Bellucci, along with Joao Souza for singles and Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares for doubles. All of these players are notably streaky, and this will be a very passionate South American rivalry, with the dedicated fans of both nations assured to be rowdy, channeling the spirit of their battles in football (soccer). Even though Mayer isn’t in great form at the moment, the Argentinian team has more options in regards to Sunday rubbers, and overall slightly better form with Berlocq and Delbonis playing well, along with the home court advantage. I feel that will get through, either 3-1 or 3-2, with Brazil favored to win the doubles (Melo and Soares are a high quality pairing), and the pressure really falling on Bellucci to perform or Souza to pull an upset. I wouldn’t be surprised with a Brazil win but I can’t pick them this weekend.
This tie would would be intriguing and star studded if the defending Davis Cup champion Swiss had Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka again donning the national colors of red and white and representing their nation, but instead they will not be in Liege, Belgium this weekend on indoor hard, and journeymen have taken their place as coach Severin Luthi will be doing all he can to inspire his team of Adrian Bossel, Michael Lammer and Henri Laaksonen to pull off a miracle and prevent the Swiss from facing relegation in their next tie. Belgium counters with a strong core of David Goffin and Steve Darcis, one a top 30 player, the other a reliable veteran, and the secondary additions of Ruben Bemelmans, a skilled challenger level player, and Niels Desein. Goffin has an injury and isn’t expected to play, but simply put, even the lowest ranked Belgian player, Desein, is ranked more than 100 spots higher in the ranking than the highest ranked Swiss player, and without form, ability, or experience on the Swiss team, Belgian could well win a blowout victory at home, and I don’t see how they lose this tie. Late breaking news made headlines in this tie, as one of the Swiss players, challenger journeyman Yann Marti, was kicked off of the team a day before the tie by coach Luthi. According to media reports, Marti was outraged that he was not selected to play in one of the opening singles rubbers. It’s shocking to see a player of Marti’s caliber and status (292 in the world), act so put out and entitled about representing his nation in Davis Cup. His decision to abandon his teammates leaves the Swiss team with just 3 players for this tie.
Not to be forgotten this week, Italy will have to travel to Astana, Kazakhstan to battle on indoor hard. They have a much stronger team, as the in-form Andreas Seppi and Simone Bolleli are complimented by the experienced Fabio Fognini and Paolo Lorenzi. Kazakhstan has just two top 100 players, Mikhail Kukushkin and Andrey Golubev, who are expected to carry the load for them, with Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Dmitry Popko as secondary choices. Fognini, and especially Lorenzi, are far from top tier players on indoor hard, but Seppi and Bolelli can both hold their own, and with their great form this season, and a team that has good chemistry and balance, they should win this tie given neither Kukushkin nor Golubev have been in great form as of late. Seppi and Bolelli are playing the singles rubbers so Italy 3-0 or 3-1 is the pick.
Some of the other top players in the world of men’s tennis will be representing their nations outside of the world group in Davis Cup action this weekend. In the Americas region group 1, Pablo Cuevas, who has been in great form on the clay court Golden swing, and his brother Martin Cuevas, a challenger level player, will face off with Santiago Giraldo, Alejandro Gonzalez and Colombia. Though Uruguay has home court advantage, Colombia has a stronger all around team and should advance in their bid to reach the World Group.
In Europe-Africa Group 1, Jerzy Janowicz leads Poland against Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania, The Polish team at home is much stronger all around and should advance. A veteran Austria team led by the Melzer brothers, Jurgen and Gerald, along with Andreas Haider-Maurer and new coach Stefan Koubek, are strong favorites against Sweden. The young gun Elias Ymer leads them, and he will have to perform some heroics if Sweden is to have a chance to get any wins outside of the doubles rubber. Martin Klizan, Lukas Lacko and Slovakia should win at home against Blaz Kavcic and Slovenia. Dudi Sela will need to perform at his best if Israel is to upset Romania on the road, with Romania having Marius Copil for singles and a strong doubles pairing with the top team of Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau.
Diving into group 2, Joao Sousa should assist Portugal in dispatching Morocco, Marsel Ilhan and Turkey are slight favorites at home on indoor hard against a South African team that does not have Kevin Anderson, and a young Chile team should be fun to watch on clay against Peru, as the home fans will get to see Nicolas Jarry, Gonzalo Lama, and most of all Christian Garin of the 1996 generation in action.