2013 ATP Winston-Salem Preview, Predictions
The last pit stop on the US Open series is Winston-Salem in what is also the final tune-up before the US Open. This preview is a bit late being posted because I was waiting to see if any players would withdraw, as often happens here.
ATP World Tour 250
Winston-Salem, NC, USA
August 18-August 24, 2013
Prize money: $575,250
Top 8 seeds (Top 16 receive first round byes)
1: Tomas Berdych
2: Andreas Seppi
3: John Isner
4: Tommy Robredo
5: Benoit Paire
6: Sam Querrey
7: Fernando Verdasco
8: Juan Monaco
It’s only a 250 but it is one of the best 250 fields around.
First round matchups to watch:
Evgeny Donskoy vs. (wc) Mardy Fish
Donskoy has been struggling and has mainly played challengers this summer, while Fish, who has seen his ranking careen out of the top 100, is still getting his feet wet. He’s 2-2 since his comeback, but at least all the matches were at the ATP level. Fish has a great chance to do well here in front of American fans and he should be the favorite, but Donskoy is streaky.
James Blake vs. Rhyne Williams
Old America vs. New America in this one. Blake is as streaky as ever, as he knocked off Jerzy Janowicz in Cincy before meekly losing in Round 2, while Williams has been disappointing this summer. Heading into the USO, he has just 1 qualifying win and 1 ATP main draw win to his name. Regardless, he is up to a career high ranking inside the top 115. This one could go either way, but I’ll give Blake a slight edge.
Tomas Berdych, the Cincy semifinalist, will play Kenny De Schepper or a struggling Ricardas Berankis. There was talk of him pulling out from this event as recently as yesterday. He is still in the draw with play starting today, but I almost suspect he could go out earlier here to get himself to New York quicker.
The 3rd round opponent for one of those 3 players will be one of 14 seed Martin Klizan, a qualifier, or Roberto Bautista-Agut. Klizan has struggled all year.
Sam Querrey could use some match wins, as he has also struggled over the summer. He faces Grega Zemlja or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in a match he should win, then Donskoy/Fish or Jarkko Nieminen in Round 3. Depending on the form of Fish, this can be a tough or weak section for Sam.
Cincinnati finalist John Isner is hightailing it down to Winston-Salem for his home tournament as he bids for a 3rd straight title. He’ll start off against Alex Bogomolov or Victor Hanescu. In Round 3, the options are a qualifier, Jack Sock, or Dmitry Tursunov (who has had a quality year and did well in Cincy, making the Quarterfinals as a qualifier).
Benoit Paire, who was upset by Nikolay Davydenko in Cincy Round 1, will open against Williams/Blake in a winnable match for the underdog. The Round 3 opponent for the winner should be Igor Sijsling, if the semi-struggling Dutchman can beat a qualifier and then the seeded-but-way-out-of-form Jurgen Melzer
Andreas Seppi, who went out in Cincy Round 1 and is 1-2 this summer, will play Bobby Reynolds or a qualifier and then Pablo Andujar, Yen-Hsun Lu or Romain Bogaerts, a Wake Forest transfer who got a main draw wild card.
Juan Monaco will play an atrocious-form Nicolas Mahut or Lukasz Kubot in a match both players wished took place on grass. Meanwhile, the slumping-all-year Alex Dolgopolov, Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Edouard Roger-Vasselin await in Round 3.
Cincy 3rd Rounder Tommy Robredo opens with Denis Istomin, assuming Istomin beats Guillaume Rufin. The winner of that could get Gael Monfils in his comeback, if Monfils beats Leo Mayer/Guido Pella. This is an intriguing section.
Fernando Verdasco debuts on summer hardcourts just before the US Open. His opponent will be Michael Russell or Tim Smyczek, with Robin Haase/Adrian Mannarino/Lukas Rosol awaiting in Round 3. Mannarino has a nice shot at Round 3 here with Haase being beatable and Rosol unable to win a match.
Dark Horse: Denis Istomin
With such a large and varied field, darkhorses such as Monfils, Bautista-Agut and Roger-Vasselin abound, but Istomin is the primary pick this week as I have him in the final. Excluding a Round 1 Cincy loss, he has been mostly consistent on US Hard Courts, and after Rufin and clay courter Robredo, the unpredictable Monfils and most likely Verdasco are his route to the semis. In those semis, Monaco/Seppi or Roger-Vasselin are the most likely opponent in what is a weak section of the draw.
Fish d. Bautista-Agut
Isner d. Paire
Istomin d. Verdasco
Monaco d. Seppi
I have a good feeling about Mardy Fish in this tournament as it seems like things are coming together. Even a tired Isner ought to drag himself to the semis at home. He has further motivation. Since he lost at Cincinnati today, he has to win some matches here to win the US Open Series bonus money.
I will pick Istomin over a cold Verdasco. Monaco is slightly better than Seppi in a match neither should dominate with the career H2H being 2-2 and hard court H2H at 1-1. Verdasco is 2-0 against Istomin career.
Isner d. Fish
Istomin d. Monaco
I’m sure the tournament organizers would be pumped to have an All-American semifinal like Isner-Fish and I’ll go with Isner, and Istomin over a really not in-form Monaco in a surprise.
Isner d. Istomin
Even tired, Isner has an almost easy route to the final and the title, without Berdych being an expected factor. He still has the motivation with this being his hometown event, the US Open Series money, and the three-peat title crown. I will make him the favorite. Istomin did beat Isner in Memphis this year, but I don’t expect a repeat of that. The overall H2H is 2-1 Istomin and 1-1 on hard courts.