Pouille and Muller Claim Second ATP Titles of the Season Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A great comeback for Frenchman Lucas Pouille secured his second ATP title of the season, the first final of the 2017 grass court season was decided 4-6 7-6 6-4, as Pouille was pushed to the limit in the second set tiebreak, and after taking that, battled hard in the third to break Lopez’s effective grass court serve and volley and hold his own serve to secure the title. Pouille barely got out of his opening match, winning close second and third set tiebreaks and saving a match point to defeat J.L. Struff, he went on to defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benoit Paire in close matches, showing his mental toughness this week.
Lopez chip and charge helped him reach his first tour final of the season, the Spaniard, happy to be on grass, got past Gilles Simon, Jeremy Chardy, Tomas Berdych, and Mischa Zverev, all of those matches going three sets except for his contest against Simon as the Mercedes Cup featured a lot of close matches this week.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares defeated Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic to take the doubles title.
34 year old Gilles Muller continued his best season on tour, winning a second title this year 7-6 7-6 in narrow fashion over fellow big server Ivo Karlovic at the Ricoh Open. Muller won tiebreaks this week against Andreas Seppi and Alexander Zverev, also winning in three sets against Aljaz Bedene to reach the final as his serve and volley game was lethal on grass.
Karlovic, 38, reached his first final this season, the veteran upset Marin Cilic in three sets in the semifinals, Daniil Medvedev and Stefan Kozlov were his other victims on the week, as both players will be difficult early round opponents at Wimbledon.
Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo continued the trend of veteran success in Rosmalen as they defeated Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram.
2017 ATP Stuttgart and Rosmalen Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2017 ATP grass court season starts this week with two European tour stops that are on the 250 level of the tour. Clay season is over, so get ready for fast paced action on the green grass of Stuttgart and Den Bosch.
ATP World Tour 250
June 12-18, 2017
Prize Money: €630,785
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Roger Federer (5)
2: Grigor Dimitrov (12)
3: Tomas Berdych (14)
4: Lucas Pouille (16)
Stuttgart has a great field this week, highlighted by one of the best grass court players of all time, Roger Federer, along with a core group of solid tour players for a 250.
First round matchups to watch:
Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs. (WC)Tommy Haas
A battle between solid grass court players, the 39 year old Haas has lost more than a step, but he’s a very crafty player at his age, and will give the big server Herbert plenty of trouble. Herbert has not been able to consistently compete at the tour level in singles, and Haas should get the win in his German homeland.
Florian Mayer vs. Jeremy Chardy
The unorthodox shotmaking of Mayer is a good fit for grass, and he’s the favorite in Germany against the higher ranked Chardy, who hits the ball hard and plays aggressively, but often racks up a high error count in the process. Mayer should find form and notch the win.
(7)Gilles Simon vs. Feliciano Lopez
Lopez has won both meetings these veterans have played on grass, Simon is in poor form, and Lopez, happy to be off of the slow, high bouncing clay, should be able to whip his serve in and advance forward enough to get the win and reach round 2.
Marcos Baghdatis vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Baghdatis has been in terrible form and hasn’t won a match since January, but he’s been good on grass against the German, who for his part has lost three straight matches and isn’t in the best form himself. Baghdatis badly needs this win, but in Germany, Kohlschreiber is a sensible favorite.
Roger Federer, the heavy favorite this tournament, will open his bid against the Haas/Herbert winner, look for Roger to tune up and get the win, before doing the same against serve and volleyer Mischa Zverev, who is happy to be off of clay, and should beat Malek Jaziri and either Yannick Hanfmann or Marton Fucsovics in round 2.
Tomas Berdych and Feliciano Lopez should contest the other quarterfinal in the top half, Lopez will face Mayer/Chardy in round 2, and should be the favorite in that match, if he defeats Simon. Berdych will get a dangerous contest against Bernard Tomic for his first match, presuming Tomic puts away the ageless Stephane Robert. Given Tomic’s awful form (four straight defeats), Berdych should make it to the quarters, where I have him knocking off Lopez to reach the semis. Berdych and Lopez have split the h2h 6-6.
Grigor Dimitrov will face Andrey Kuznetsov or Jerzy Janowicz in round 2, Janowicz is far removed from his success on grass, although he still has plenty of power. Kuznetsov has had a good season, but Dimitrov is a favorite in this section for a reason, having found a bit of form at Roland Garros. Viktor Troicki should beat Benoit Paire and Nikoloz Basilashvili/Peter Gojowczyk to reach the quarters. Dimitrov will be the favorite whether it’s Troicki or someone else in the quarters.
Lucas Pouille begins his tournament against either Jan-Lennard Struff or Lukas Lacko. Pouille isn’t perfect on grass by any measure but he should be good enough to reach the quarters before falling to Steve Johnson. The in-form American Johnson faces Max Marterer first up, then the Kohlschreiber/Baghdatis winner, a difficult but winnable path. Johnson’s game is built for fast surfaces.
Dark Horse: Feliciano Lopez
The unseeded Spaniard has every shot to at least make the quarters, and will have a punchers chance against Berdych. Federer is probably too much in the semis, but after a rough few months, Lopez could be back in winning form on grass.
Semis Federer d. Berdych
Dimitrov d. Johnson
Final Federer d. Dimitrov
Nothing suggests Federer will not win in Stuttgart, he should be fresh and focused, while Dimitrov looks to be solid enough to make the final with his all-court game.
ATP World Tour 250
S-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
June 12-18, 2017
Prize Money: €589,185
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Marin Cilic (7)
2: Alexander Zverev (10)
3: Ivo Karlovic (24)
4: Gilles Muller (28)
First round matchups to watch:
Yuichi Sugita vs. Janko Tipsarevic
Sugita has found form this year and just won a challenger on grass. Tipsarevic is a steady veteran who has a h2h win this matchup, but has yet to return to his tour level form. Fatigue may be an issue for Sugita, but it’s sensible that he’d be able to defeat Tipsarevic on grass.
(5)Steve Darcis vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov
Two shotmaking specialists, Dolgo has a only won one out of three meetings against the Belgian veteran, but he’s still the favorite in this match. The serve and volleyer Darcis is my pick though, he’s had a great season and that should continue on grass.
Dustin Brown vs. (WC)Stefan Kozlov
Brown is a dangerous serve and volleyer and should teach the young Kozlov a thing or two on grass. Kozlov has the game to compete on this surface but he still has plenty to learn, and Brown should have too crisp of a performance to suffer a defeat in this one.
Mikhail Youzhny vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
The veteran Youzhny has a great history on grass, but at 34 his game has declined from its peak by a large margin. Kokkinakis is just getting his feet wet on tour after injury, he’s immensely talented but Youzhny should find a way to scrape through for a much needed win to further enhance his grass court record.
Jordan Thompson vs. Adrian Mannarino
Another battle between players who enjoy grass court tennis, Thompson comes off of a challenger final on the surface, and although Mannarino should challenge him, look for Thompson’s fast developing game to show out and get the win.
Marin Cilic is in good form after reaching the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and should beat the Sugita/Tipsarevic winner, and then Darcis/Dolgopolov in the quarterfinals. Cilic didn’t drop a set in his Paris victories and looks setup to continue that trend on grass. The Darcis/Dolgopolov winner will face Vasek Pospisil or local wild card Tallon Griekspoor in round 2.
Ivo Karlovic‘s serve is a threat on grass, and he should defeat Brown/Kozlov, before facing Youzhny in the quarters. Youzhny faces Robin Haase or Daniil Medvedev in round 2 and has a winnable path to the quarters, although Haase is a competitive opponent. Karlovic should be solid enough to reach the semis on this surface.
11-6 in his career on grass, Alexander Zverev is a contender for this title, after breaking through on tour this season with a 27-10 record on the year. Zverev struggled at Roland Garros, but moving to grass may bring a refreshing change for him. Zverev should defeat Thompson/Mannarino to reach the quarters, Nicolas Mahut has won three Den Bosch titles and should defeat him there. Mahut opens with Dennis Novikov and then faces Rendy Lu/Evgeny Donskoy. Look for Mahut to show off his talents and reach at least the semifinals.
Gilles Muller also looks set for success, he’s had a great season and grass is perhaps his best surface. Muller should defeat Andreas Seppi/Tatsuma Ito, and then either Aljaz Bedene or Denis Istomin in the quarters. Rising young gun Hyeon Chung and improving American Ernesto Escobedo are also here in this section, and Chung could rise up and secure it. I have it Muller over Bedene, two players who have had good seasons, in the quarterfinals.
Dark Horse: Mikhail Youzhny
There are plenty of seeds with a shot at this title, but don’t count out Youzhny. The veteran still has enough game to find form for a week and take a title. In the very least, he should make the quarterfinals, with a good chance at beating Karlovic.
Semis Cilic d. Karlovic
Muller d. Mahut
Final Cilic d. Muller
Cilic should be the clear favorite to take the title this week. I’ll back Muller’s form over all of his opponents to make the final, and he could take the title as well.
2016 ATP Grass Court Season Recap: Murray and Thiem Soar Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The last four ATP grass court tournaments after the French Open featured most of the top players looking to get practice before Wimbledon, and a host of players making strong runs. Many of these players will likely find themselves wishing their was more grass court tennis after Wimbledon, while others are already ready for hard court action.
Austrian superstar Dominic Thiem has moved into the top 8 after his fourth title of the season was won in Stuttgart at the Mercedes Cup. Thiem has won titles on all of the surfaces (hard court, clay, and grass) already this season and has clearly demonstrated his all-court prowess. Thiem beat Sam Groth, Mikhail Youzhny, and grass court legend Roger Federer, before toppling Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final. Only against Groth did Thiem not drop a set, but he showed great fight to prevail in his matches. Kohlschreiber had defeated Thiem earlier this season in a clay final, so the Austrian got his revenge.
The German defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Denis Kudla, Radek Stepanek, and Juan Martin Del Potro to reach the final. Del Potro showed great form as he continues his return from serious wrist injuries.
Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak defeated Fabrice Martin and Oliver Marach in the doubles final.
ATP ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch)
Nicolas Mahut won a second consecutive, and a third overall Den Bosch title as he defeated fellow big server Gilles Muller in the final. Mahut defeated Lukas Lacko, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Bernard Tomic, and Sam Querrey en route to the final, surviving in three sets against all but Lacko and Muller. The Frenchman clearly enjoys playing in Holland.
Muller contested his second career ATP final as he defeated Robin Haase, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, David Ferrer, and Ivo Karlovic to get that far. Both Ferrer and Tomic disappointing. At 33 he’s still looking for an elusive first ATP title.
Mate Pavic and Michael Venus defeated Dominic Inglot and Raven Klaasen in the doubles final as New Zealanders won both doubles titles on offer last week.
Florian Mayer stunningly captured his first title since 2011 as the oft-injured German will return to the top 100. Mayer defeated countryman Alexander Zverev in the final, the passionate Zverev simply didn’t have consistency to prevail in the third set. Mayer with his funky game has seen a resurgence in his tennis on grass this season. The 32 year old defeated Brian Baker, got a walkover against Kei Nishikori, and then defeated Andreas Seppi, and the in-form Dominic Thiem to reach the final.
The 19 year old Zverev dropped his second career ATP final after posting wins over Viktor Troicki, Benjamin Becker, Marcos Baghdatis, and most surprisingly, Roger Federer in three sets. Federer will now enter Wimbledon without a grass court title, though he entered two events. The Swiss legend hasn’t won an ATP title this season.
Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram defeated Alexander Peya and Lukasz Kubot in the doubles final.
Andy Murray was a set and a break down against Milos Raonic before he fought back to capture a fifth career London Queen’s title. Murray defeated Nicolas Mahut, Aljaz Bedene, Kyle Edmund, and Marin Cilic, as he dropped sets against Edmund and Cilic, along with Raonic. Murray has been in tremendous form as he moved to 33-6 on the season with two ATP titles. Murray hasn’t lost a match before the final since Monte Carlo.
Raonic defeated Nick Kyrgios, Jiri Vesely, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Bernard Tomic to reach his third ATP final of the season. The Canadian has established himself as a possible Wimbledon dark horse.
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Chris Guccione and Andre Sa in the doubles final as they will perhaps be the Wimbledon men’s doubles favorites given their prowess on grass and great success this season as a team.
As Novak Djokovic claimed his maiden French Open trophy, American tennis fans were having their own celebration following a successful weekend of qualifying at the Ricoh Open in the Netherlands.
This year is the 27th edition of the tournament. Top seed and two-time champion David Ferrer will be hoping to win his first title on the grass since 2012. Players standing in Ferrer’s way include former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic and the fast serving Ivo Karlovic.
The qualifying draw provided the perfect opportunity for the lower ranked players to rise to the main draw. It was an opportunity that became a reality for an American pair after six out of the eight seeds failed to book their place in the main draw.
Ernesto Escobedo kicked off his campaign with a hard fought 7-6(6), 7-6(4), win over seventh seed Ryan Harrison. The 19-year-old Californian-born player is currently enduring a roller coaster season after reaching his first Challenger final in Brazil in April. Since then, he endured a trio of disappointing early round losses. Despite the recent setback, Escobedo has managed to progress to his first ATP main draw after he defeated Swiss third seed Marco Chiudinelli 6-4, 7-5. The world No.264 faced no break points during his second qualifying match as he won 87% of his first service points. This week was the third ATP qualifying draw in Escobedo’s career.
Joining Escobedo in the main draw will be sixth seed Dennis Novikov. The 22-year-old is currently ranked 146th in the world and has only been able to win four main draw matches this year. Playing in s-Hertogenbosch for the first time in his career, novikov recovered from an opening set blip to see-off the Czech Republic’s Michal Konecny 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-2, in the first round. The triumph resulted in an all-American clash with Austin Krajicek. Boasting a 2-1 winning head-to-head against Krajicek prior to the match, Novikov extended his winning record by taking the match 7-6(4), 7-6(5). Impressively the Russian-born American faced no break-points and produced 13 aces to move to the main draw.
Beside the American triumphs, the highest seeded to qualify was second-seeded Lukas Lacko. The former top-50 player has only played in two ATP main draws this year going into the Dutch tournament as he tries to return to the top-100. Starting off his qualifying draw against Israel’s Amir Weintraub, the Slovakian took the match 6-2, 6-3, in less than an hour. Next up for Lacko was Alejandro Falla, a player who has reached two ATP finals in the past. The Colombian was no match for Lacko as the second seed saved six out of eight break points to win 7-5, 6-3. During his career Lacko has won 49 matches on the ATP Tour, however, only one of them have occurred this year.
Completing the quartet of qualifiers is Russia’s Daniil Medvedev. The 20-year-old has enjoyed some promising results in recent weeks. At the Bordeaux Challenger he reached the quarter-finals as a qualifier and came through two rounds of qualifying at the Nice Open last month. At S-Hertogenbosch, he continued his encouraging performance on the tour with an opening win over fifth seed Mischa Zverev (6-1, 6-4). In the final round of qualifying he produced the biggest upset of the draw when he defeated world No.106 and top seed, Konstantin Kravchuk 6-3, 6-1. Impressively Medvedev won 92% of his first service points during the shock win.
The main draw matches
Q Dennis Novikov USA Vs Dudi Sela ISR
Q Daniil Medvedev RUSSIA Vs Horacio Zeballos ARG
Q Lukas Lacko SVK Vs Nicolas Mahut FRA
Q Ernesto Escobedo USA Vs Aljaz Bedene GBR