Federer Claims First Indian Wells Title Since 2012 Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Roger Federer continued his magical comeback season and all but locked down comeback player of the year by March with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 Indian Wells Masters 1000 final. Federer has five career Indian Wells titles now, having claimed his first since the 2012 edition of the tournament, and adds the title to his trophy case for 2017 along with the Australian Open in Melbourne.
In a battle between two Swiss legends, who also happen to be the last two Slam champions, Federer had the upper hand early, and maintained a high level throughout the match. Wawrinka had an early break in the second set, and hung tight the whole way, but Federer was in control after going up a set and getting it back on serve in the second. Rather than being pushed into a potentially surprising second tiebreak, Federer pushed hard late to finish the match off and put his friend Wawrinka away. The result matches the general course of their rivalry, as Wawrinka, despite his own accomplishments, has always been in Federer’s shadow.
In a tournament that saw Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray make early exits, and end up injured. Federer was the star of the show by the end of the week. He didn’t drop a set in the California desert, claiming wins over Stephane Robert and Steve Johnson before dominating Rafael Nadal with strong backhand play, and then easing past Jack Sock in the semis, after Nick Kyrgios gave him a walkover due to stomach problems. It was still a good tournament for Sock as he claimed big wins over Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori, having cemented himself firmly as the American #1, and a possible candidate for top 10 status and the year end World Tour Finals.
Wawrinka started his journey with routine wins over Paolo Lorenzi and Philipp Kohlschreiber. He was a break down twice in the final set against Yoshihito Nishioka in round 3, but the upset minded Japanese ran out of gas and choked under pressure. After surviving that test, Wawrinka slipped past Dominic Thiem in a third set tiebreak, and then had an easier time against surprise semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta. PCB gets a ton of points for making the semis, but his path didn’t feature a top 25 victory, thus this surprise result is a bit of a mirage.
Veterans Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram put away Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in an all-veteran battle to take home the doubles title in the desert. The first Masters tournament of 2017 going down as a resounding success.
Novak Djokovic dominated the China Open once more, as the world #1 didn’t drop more than 3 games in a set and thumped his rival Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-2 in the final. The Serbian superstar was simply untouchable on the week in the Chinese capital as he handled Simone Bolelli, Ze Zhang, John Isner, David Ferrer, never surrendering more than 5 games total in any match. Going into the final tournaments of the season, Djokovic will be a clear favorite everywhere he participates.
Rafael Nadal also has to be pleased with his week in Beijing, it wasn’t as smooth as Djokovic, but he posted a solid hard court effort with straight sets wins over Di Wu and Vasek Pospisil, a three set win over Jack Sock, and a straight set win over rival Fabio Fognini, as Fognini’s winning streak against Rafa was snapped. It’s been a rough season for the popular Spanish lefty, but perhaps he can stay in-form for the rest of his Fall tournaments.
Pospisil and Sock won the doubles title together over the veteran pairing of Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Stan Wawrinka was the top seed, and took advantage of that in Tokyo, as the draw opened up, and the Yonex sponsored Swiss posted a far better result than last seasons early round exit. Wawrinka beat his best friend Benoit Paire 6-2 6-4, as the Frenchman with a magical backhand continues his career year with yet another ATP final.
Stan was the man against Radek Stepanek in round 1, then he avenged his loss last year in Tokyo to Tatsuma Ito in three sets, sent American Austin Krajicek home 6-3 6-4, and scraped past Gilles Muller in two sets and a tiebreak to reach the final, surviving inconsistent play at times, as he was clutch when it mattered.
Paire upset the seeded Grigor Dimitrov with a third set breadstick, then got past Marcos Baghdatis and Nick Kyrgios in three with his trademark effortless style. In the semifinals he stunned home hero Kei Nishikori, coming back from an opening set breadstick, and winning in three, after three previous third set wins. The win over Nishikori, with an injured ankle no less, is perhaps the biggest of Paire’s career, and if he can keep this up mentally, he certainly has the talent to reach the top 15 and be a threat in the bigger tournaments.
Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo beat Colombian’s Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal to go home with the doubles trophy.
2014 ATP Rogers Cup Preview, Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The first of two Masters 1000 level events on the Emirates Airlines US Open Series will take place this year in Toronto starting Monday. Most of the big names are in action and it is the first tune up for many of them before the US Open.
Rogers Cup 2014
ATP Toronto Rogers Cup ATP World Tour Masters 1000
August 4-August 10, 2014
Prize Money: $3,766,270
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Roger Federer (3)
3: Stan Wawrinka (4)
4: Tomas Berdych (5)
5: David Ferrer (6)
6: Milos Raonic (7)
7: Grigor Dimitrov (8)
8: Andy Murray (10)
Notably missing from the tournament are defending champion and world number 2 Rafael Nadal with a wrist injury, and top 40 players Fernando Verdasco, Nicolas Almagro and Dmitry Tursunov. Juan Martin Del Potro, Alex Dolgopolov, and Tommy Haas are also notable names we aren’t likely to see again this season.
First round matchups to watch:
Radek Stepanek vs. Gael Monfils
Stepanek was upset early in DC and seeks to rebound, while Monfils is finally beginning his post Wimbledon campaign. Both players are seeking to stay healthy and do well, and the style contrast will be fun in this one. They have met many times before and Monfils holds a 5-3 edge in the overall h2h, with it tied 2-2 on outdoor hard courts, the last meetings coming in 2011. I could see this going either way but I’m leaning towards picking Monfils to prevail.
(12)Richard Gasquet vs. Vasek Pospisil
Pospisil now has won two meetings against Gasquet, and he just beat him in the DC semis on Saturday, in that match Gasquet got off to a good start but let his advantage slip in the next two sets and bowed out in a 7-5 third set. The advantage should swing back to Gasquet for this meeting though, as I’m favoring the Frenchman to get his first win in the series because he did return to form in Washington DC after being on a cold streak for a while, and Pospisil, under the pressure of playing at home and defending semifinal points here, is likely to be fatigued after playing so much tennis this past week in DC. That slight change in circumstances, along with Gasquet being a motivated former finalist twice at the Rogers Cup, should make this match even more interesting.
Ivo Karlovic vs. (Q)Bernard Tomic
Another reprisal of a recent high stakes match, Tomic beat Karlovic in three sets by winning a pair of tiebreaks to win the title in Bogota, and will get the big serving Croat again as a qualifier in the Toronto first round. He has two other previous wins over Ivo outside of the Bogota meeting, and does seem to have the formula to get past Dr. Ivo’s serve and volley game
Santiago Giraldo vs. (WC)Nick Kyrgios
DC quarterfinalist Santiago Giraldo, who has had a solid season and is a big hitting shotmaker from the baseline, will do battle with the passionate and fiery Kyrgios, who as a wild card will be playing his first Masters tournament match in Toronto. The young Kyrgios has a heap of talent, great composure and a lot of eyes on him right now as he seeks to follow up his career result at Wimbledon where he beat Nadal and reached the quarterfinals. The winner will meet Andy Murray and this one should be an excellent match full of shotmaking highlights, I favor Kyrgios to get through in 3 sets.
Kevin Anderson vs. (Q)Thanasi Kokkinakis
Young Aussies Kokkinakis and Kyrgios could both win their ATP Masters main draw debuts in Toronto. Kokkinakis, who qualified and has had a good few weeks at the challenger level on hard courts will face the big serving Anderson, who is a solid hard court player but has been down in recent weeks, as he exited earlier than expected in DC, and was upset in his opening match in Atlanta as well. Kokkinakis will have to hold his serve and return well, as Anderson will put a lot of pressure on him with his serve/forehand combo that is elite, but he has a punchers chance if he can keep his nose ahead in the match.
Three time Rogers Cup champion and odds on favorite for a fourth, Novak Djokovic, will face Stepanek/Monfils to start, and then likely Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is making his post Wimbledon debut and looking for a stronger third quarter of his season, in round 3. Tsonga must defeat Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Jeremy Chardy/Federico Delbonis to get to that stage. Djokovic has owned Tsonga in recent years and that trend should continue.
Andy Murray, who is also making his post Wimbledon debut, and seeking to make a move back up the rankings with a strong hard court summer, will face Kyrgios/Giraldo in a big round 2 test, and should he survive he will face Gasquet/Pospisil or Karlovic/Tomic in round 3. It’s a tough draw for Murray but he should be rested and motivated, look for him to get through to meet Djokovic in the quarters.
Stan Wawrinka, also looking to put up a solid result in his post Wimbledon campaign resumption, will face Benoit Paire or Alejandro Falla in round 2. Paire, who had to qualify here, is best friends with Wawrinka and I doubt one will enjoy having to eliminate the other from the tournament should they meet. Look for Wawrinka against one of Kokkinakis/Anderson/Mikhail Youzhny/Fabio Fognini in round 3. Youzhny and Fognini are both struggling, so Kokkinakis/Anderson have a nice chance at making the third round, and Wawrinka should be favored through to the quarterfinals.
Grigor Dimitrov, hopefully healthy again, is also making his post-Wimbledon debut and has had a breakout season. The top Bulgarian may be tested by an in-form Donald Young in round 2, assuming the DC semifinalist Young can defeated Canadian wild card Frank Dancevic. Young made his first semi since 2011 in DC, but assuming Dimitrov is healthy I think he has too much game for the American baseliner (the h2h surprisingly is tied 2-2 and Young leads 2-1 on hard courts). Dimitrov/Young is slated to face one of Tommy Robredo/Philipp Kohlschreiber/Gilles Simon/Dominic Thiem in round 3. Robredo and Kohlschreiber are both struggling veterans, as is Simon, who may also be injured, while Thiem should be tired after playing in the Kitzbuhel final. Someone has to reach round 3 though and Kohlschreiber or Thiem is most likely to do so. Dimitrov/Young are quarterfinalist favorites in this section.
Roger Federer, seeking to win his third Rogers Cup, will open with Peter Polansky or Jerzy Janowicz, and should get his first big test against Marin Cilic in round 3. Cilic has been good on multiple surfaces this season, including hard courts and is close to reaching the best level of his career. He has never beaten Federer (0-4 last meeting in 2012) and would need to get past Denis Istomin and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez/Marinko Matosevic, a trio of players who can pull upsets on hard courts, to setup a fifth shot at Federer, but the match should at least be competitive if they meet. Look for Federer to be a quarterfinalist out of his section.
David Ferrer has had a down year this season and is on pace to have fewer wins and more losses than in any of his previous four seasons on tour. He was upset here in his first match last year and though Nicolas Mahut/Michael Russell don’t look like difficult opening match tests, Ferrer has shown he is vulnerable to being upset by journeyman over the past two seasons. He is carrying an elbow injury according to media reports but did not withdraw from the tournament like those reports suggested. If he’s not healthy, an already out of form Ferrer, who seems to have hit the wall, could be upset in his first match, if not look for 10 seed John Isner to send him home in round 3.
Isner seeks to bounce back from a disappointing showing in DC and he faces big server Ivan Dodig, playing his first match since the French Open after being injured, in round 1, Dodig should be unprepared to deal with Isner who plays a similar style as himself, and Isner should get through to face Andreas Seppi/Brayden Schnur in round 2. Canadian qualifier Schnur is making his ATP debut this week after working his way up through college tennis and the challenger circuit. Look for a Federer vs. Isner quarterfinal this week.
Tomas Berdych, another top 10 name who is struggling and was upset early in DC as the top seed, faces Rendy Lu or Marcel Granollers in his first match, and assumingly should advance to round 3 against most likely Roberto Bautista Agut who upset him earlier this spring in Indian Wells. RBA has two titles this season and is close to reaching the top 15 in ranking, he faces a struggling Feliciano Lopez in round 1, and then Tim Smyczek/Tobias Kamke in round 2 before a likely Berdych meeting. Smyczek tore it up in qualifying and is looking to have a resurgent result after slogging through a difficult 2014 season thus far. I look for Bautista Agut to beat Berdych again and reach the quarterfinals.
Defending finalist and DC champ Milos Raonic, one of the two prides of Canada along with Pospisil this week, will have a quick turnaround against Jack Sock/Jurgen Melzer in round 2. Raonic beat Sock in DC winning a pair of tiebreaks last week and overall he has beaten the American 3 times this year and four times overall, losing to him once in their maiden meeting in February 2013. The in form wild card Sock should beat Melzer who was playing on the clay of Kitzbuhel this week, and I give him a good chance against Raonic as well. Milos is likely to be tired and all of their previous head to head meetings have been relatively close. With Sock playing some of the best tennis of his young career right now, beating Raonic would be a stellar result for him. Raonic/Sock are likely to face Ernests Gulbis, always a dangerous lurker, in round 3. Gulbis must defeat Joao Sousa and Lleyton Hewitt/Julien Benneteau to reach that stage. Gulbis vs. Hewitt would be an entertaining and fiery round 2 encounter with Gulbis being slightly favored, they have never met before. This is probably the most open section of the draw and cases can be made for Raonic, Sock, Gulbis and Hewitt to be quarterfinalists.
Dark Horses: Donald Young and Jack Sock
American players have a great chance to post some surprising results at the Rogers Cup this week with Isner, Russell, Smyczek and two players I’ll spotlight for this tournament as dark horses, Young and Sock all having reasonable draws on paper.Young would need to beat Dimitrov but could reach the quarterfinals if he does so as the draw opens up until it gets to Wawrinka. Sock must beat Raonic and Gulbis/Hewitt as discussed, but he could also reach the quarterfinals where Bautista-Agut/Berdych are likely opponents. Sock has a more favorable potential quarterfinal opponent of the two dark horses this week.
Quarters: Djokovic d. Murray
Wawrinka d. Dimitrov
Bautista Agut d. Gulbis
Federer d. Isner
Djokovic beat Murray this season in Miami and he is a gear above the Scot right now, Murray could make it competitive but I don’t see him winning. Dimitrov had no trouble with Wawrinka this season on grass but Wawrinka won their only hard court meeting in 2011 and though it’s a very difficult pick, I’m going with Stan by just a hair, probably in 3 sets. In the hardest to predict quarter, I’m going against the 3-0 h2h in favor of Gulbis, including two wins this season, and picking Bautista Agut. The Spaniard is improving and has had better recent results than Ernie, also their two meetings this season went 3 sets and having watched them both, they were competitive contests where either player could have prevailed based upon just a few points. Federer should be a gear above Isner as well, and he has a 4-1 h2h advantage in that matchup.
Semis: Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Federer d. Bautista Agut
Stan and Nole have an excellent rivalry going, one of the best in the game currently, and should they reprise it in Toronto, Novak should have the advantage. He’s been the legitimate number one this season and has been elite all year, Wawrinka got him at the AO, but in a best of 3 sets format given both current form and mindset, Novak has to be favored like he has been in all of their previous head to head meetings, a vast majority of which he has won.
Fed and RBA have never met but Federer is the better player and should win.
Final: Djokovic d. Federer
With Nadal out, the spotlight shifts to Djokovic and Fed this week in Toronto, they contested a very competitive Wimbledon final, along with three other tournament matches this season, all of which came in the semis or final of a tournament. The h2h this season is split 2-2, and on outdoor hard court Djokovic won in 3 sets in Indian Wells, and before that Federer won in 3 sets in Dubai. Things are very close between these two titans of the sport almost every time they meet to do battle, however a slight edge seems to be favoring Djokovic right now and I’m picking him as the champ this week. ]
Also I’d like to introduce a friendly battle of the brackets between myself and our new ATP Challenger Tour journalist at Tennis East Coast, Chris De Waard, I’ll be including Chris’ weekly picks for the ATP tournaments on my preview posts and we will keep track of our selections compared to the actual results of the tournaments, at the end of the season the winner gets a prize yet to be named.
Chris De Waard’s Picks:
Djokovic d. Murray
Wawrinka d. Dimitrov
Raonic d. Bautista Agut
Federer d. Ferrer
Wawrinka Breaks Up Big Four Dominance Of Masters 1000 Events, Wins Monte Carlo Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Stan Wawrinka is the first Masters 1000 tournament champion not named Nadal, Djokovic, Federer or Murray since the 2012 Paris Masters won by Ferrer. He did so by beating his “big brother”, Roger Federer 4-6 7-6 6-2 in just his second career win against the most famous Swiss tennis player of all time, both wins oddly enough having come in Monte Carlo.
Federer was strong early but Wawrinka was able to turn things around, and after winning the second set tiebreak in close fashion, he pulled away from a seemingly-exhausted Federer. He now has a Grand Slam and a Masters title this season, both the first of his career as he continues to cement himself as a top 5 player who can challenge the best in the game.
Wawrinka blitzed Marin Cilic, got a walkover against Nicolas Almagro, routined Milos Raonic and also David Ferrer this week as he didn’t drop a set until the final and looked much better compared to his near debacle in the Davis Cup tie for the Swiss.
Federer reached his second Masters final of the season in 3 tournaments as he defeated Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol in straights, then survived in 3 against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and won 7-5 6-2 over an out-of-sorts Novak Djokovic. That match was an upset, but Novak clearly wasn’t 100% and was being bothered by some sort of injury.
Djokovic’s Masters win streak was broken at 28 wins in a row with the loss.
One thing is for sure, it’s a great time to be a Swiss tennis fan.
The Bryans beat Ivan Dodig/Marcel Melo to win the doubles title and continue their dominance.
Stan “The Stanimal” Wawrinka is a Grand Slam champion for the first time after a 4-set victory over a hobbled Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open this morning. Wawrinka beat Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Two of my favorite twitter hashtags in the history of the web appeared during the match: #iDontUnderStan #GrandStan
Congratulations, Stan. He’s now the #1 Swiss player, a remarkable feat when you’ve played your entire career alongside compatriot Roger Federer.
I declare this the biggest upset in a final EVER.
I also declare that Stanimal Crackers are more nourishing than Sugarpova.
2014 ATP @ChennaiOpen Preview, Picks Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Chennai Open Official Site
The 2014 ATP season will fire up with a strong trio of ATP 250 events, all on hard courts, in Brisbane, Doha and Chennai. Most of the top players will be in action and it is a fresh start to the year for everyone. Here is to a tremendous year of tennis in 2014!
Aircel Chennai Open
ATP World Tour 250
December 30-January 5, 2014
Prize Money: $399,985
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Stanislas Wawrinka (8)
2: Mikhail Youzhny (15)
3: Fabio Fognini (16)
4: Benoit Paire (26)
Three top 20 players and top 10 player Wawrinka is a relatively good field for this 250.
First round matchups to watch:
Pablo Carreno Busta vs. (WC)Yuki Bhambri
Newly top 70 ranked Spaniard PCB was tremendous on the futures and challenger circuits in 2013 and is now going to try to maintain and improve his ranking as an ATP regular at the start of the year. He will need to do well in events like this, and do well off of clay at least occasionally. He will face one of the top Indian players, Bhambri, who is back inside the top 200 and primarily played challengers in 2013 with occasionally good results. PCB should win this one, but the surface and fan support will give Bhambri a chance.
Former Chennai champion Stan Wawrinka, who had a career 2013 in going 51-23 at the ATP level with 1 title along with breaking into the top 10, will open with a German, Benjamin Becker or Julian Reister in round 2, followed by one of Aljaz Bedene/Qualifier/Roberto Bautista Agut/Qualifier in the quarters. RBA played very well in Chennai last year, reaching the final and he has points to defend here. I expect Wawrinka, who also played in that exhibition in Abu Dhabi, to reach the semis at least.
Fabio Fognini, who also had a career 2013, reaching a career high ranking in the top 20 and going 42-27 with 2 ATP titles, will face PCB/Bhambri in round 2 and one of Rendy Lu/Tim Smyczek/Kyle Edmund/Vasek Pospisil in the quarters. Pospisil was another player who broke onto the scene in 2013 and will look to continue that strong level of play, while Smyczek is a consistent hard court competitor.
Another former Chennai champion, Mikhail Youzhny, will face Dudi Sela or Lukas Lacko in round 2, with one of Edouard Roger-Vasselin/Albert Ramos/Jiri Vesely/Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in the quarters. Vesely is a rising youngster looking for a breakthrough and is one to watch as I think he will make the quarters and perhaps give Youzhny a test.
Benoit Paire will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Oleksandr Nedovyesov in round 2 before one of Marcel Granollers/Somdev Devvarman/qualifiers in the quarters. Devvarman could use a good result here at home in India, but overall this a very open and rather weak section.
Dark Horse: Jiri Vesely
Vesely went 0-7 at the ATP level in 2013 but he played well on the challenger circuit and the 20 year old Czech reached the top 90. He opens with an Indian wild card, before ERV/Ramos. Assuming he gets past those winnable matches, he will have a meeting with Youzhny, where Jiri will be an underdog, but you never know what could happen.
Wawrinka d. Pospisil
Youzhny d. Paire
No previous head to head meetings between any of these players. Stan should be able to make the final. Youzhny is the favorite in the bottom half, which is rather weak.
Wawrinka d. Youzhny
Youzhny has beaten Wawrinka 3 times on a hard court, but they last met in 2010 and Wawrinka has improved significantly. As the strongest player in the field, he should capture the title.
2013 ATP Gstaad, Umag Previews and Predictions Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Though I’m in Atlanta all week, there are in fact two other ATP events going on. They’re both in Europe on clay. Here’s a sneak peek of each.
Gstaad Official Site (Photo: Valeriano Di Domenico)
ATP Gstaad Credit Agricole Suisse Open Gstaad
ATP World Tour 250
July 22-July 28, 2013
Prize Money: €410,200
Top 4 seeds (Who all receive first round byes)
1: Roger Federer
2: Stanislas Wawrinka
3: Janko Tipsarevic
4: Juan Monaco
1st round matchups to watch:
(7)Lukas Rosol vs. Marcel Granollers
Rosol may be injured and he’s lost 4 straight. Rosol is seeded 7th, but Hamburg 3rd rounder Marcel Granollers should have the upset track on clay.
Federico Delbonis vs. Thomaz Bellucci
Current Hamburg finalist Delbonis, who upset Federer and has been on a whirlwind pace in Germany, will take on Bellucci. Belucci was knocked out in the first round of Hamburg and is still finding his feet. This is a quality clay court match and Delbonis should have an edge if he isn’t fatigued. Bellucci is the defending champion and would hate to give up so many points with a 1st round loss.
Roger Federer is not playing well right now. He lost in the semis of Hamburg to Delbonis and before that dropped sets to both Daniel Brands and Florian Mayer. Some say it was his switch to the 98-inch racquet from the 90-inch, but I’m not totally sure that will take care of the problem. He could very well face Brands again if the German beats Marco Chiudinelli in the opening round. Chiudinelli has some positive mojo working as he made the semis in Eskisehir challenger.
The winner will get one of a qualifier, Victor Hanescu, Henri Laaksonen or 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarters. RBA comes off 2nd round in Hamburg, while Hanescu lost in the opening round of Hamburg.
Hamburg quarterfinalist Juan Monaco will play Adrian Ungur or more likely Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who made the 3rd round of Hamburg and could perhaps give him some trouble.
In the quarters, one of Pablo Andujar/qualifier/Paul Henri Mathieu/Mikhail Youzhny await in what is a very open section.
Stan Wawrinka got a much needed break from the tour and will open at home against Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Kenny De Schepper with Sergiy Stakhovsky/Andrey Kuznetsov or Feliciano Lopez/Qualifier awaiting in the quarters.
Tipsy Needs to Find Himself
3 seed Janko Tipsarevic will backpeddle from Bogota, where he again failed to make even the semifinals of what was honestly a weak event (lost to Alejandro Falla in the quarters). Now he’s going back to clay and still trying to turn his miserable year around against Robin Haase or a qualifier. Tipsy was a finalist last year, but I don’t see that happening this year.
The winner will get Rosol/Granollers or Delbonis/Bellucci.
Dark Horse: Federico Delbonis
I considered giving this moniker to Brands or Bautista because they could both upset Federer and make it a tournament to remember. However, Delbonis, though he may be tired, has played incredibly well in Hamburg and has a tailor-made draw with an off kilter Bellucci, a probably injured Rosol/not dynamic Granollers, and then either ice cold Tipsarevic, tiebreak struggler Haase or a qualifier. Semis are reasonable.
Federer d. Monaco
Wawrinka d. Delbonis
Federer is 4-0 against Monaco, and though he could lose before this point, I don’t see Pico in his current form beating him. Wawrinka should get past his draw and beat whoever he faces in the semis.
“We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Racket” —Jaws, 1975
Wawrinka d. Federer
I’ll be gutsy and say Wawrinka will go against his 1-13 head to head against his more accomplished countryman and win an all Swiss final at home. Wawrinka’s only win against Fed came in ’09 on clay and with the year Stan has had, plus the way Federer is playing, I say he notches his 2nd win.
Vegeta Crotia Open Umag
ATP World Tour 250
July 22-July 28, 2013
Prize Money: € 410,200
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Richard Gasquet
2: Andreas Seppi
3: Fabio Fognini
4: Alex Dolgopolov
First round matchups to watch:
Dmitry Tursunov vs. Thiemo De Bakker
Tursunov lost in the 3rd round of Hamburg to eventual finalist Delbonis, while De Bakker comes off Bastad semis. Both players have been good at times but are streaky, and on clay this should be entertaining.
Richard Gasquet comes back for his first event since Wimby against Albert Montanes or a qualifier, then could face Gael Monfils/Mate Pavic/Florian Mayer/qualifier in the quarters. Mayer is playing well and nearly beat Federer in the Hamburg quarters, so he could be a dangerous opponent.
Possible Hamburg champion and Stuttgart champion Fabio Fognini could be looking for his 3rd title in a row in Umag, opening with Tursunov/De Bakker, both of whom could defeat him if fatigued, though the Italian is playing some incredible tennis right now.
The other quarterfinalist will be one of Martin Klizan/Paolo Lorenzi/Albert Ramos/Leo Mayer in an open section.
Andreas Seppi lost in the opening round of Hamburg and will face Poznan challenger champ Andreas Haider-Maurer or talented youngster Jiri Vesely in the 2nd round. The quarterfinalist of that group will face Bastad champ and Hamburg 3rd rounder Carlos Berlocq if the Warlocq can beat a qualifier, and Borna Coric/Horacio Zeballos. Zeballos continues to struggle and the 16-year-old Croat wild card will have an upset chance.
Another struggling seed is Alex Dolgopolov, who is in danger of dropping out of the top 30 after another Round 1 loss (this time to Mayer in Hamburg). Dolgo opens with Aljaz Bedene or a qualifier. Dolgo has had Umag success before and he could use some now to kickstart his game. In the quarters, Tommy Robredo/Jan Hajek/Antonio Veic/Viktor Troicki await. Robredo lost in the opening round of Hamburg to Delbonis in 3 sets, and in fact has suffered consecutive opening round losses. Hajek, meanwhile, upset Ernests Gulbis to reach the Hamburg 3rd round.
Dark Horse: Jan Hajek
Hajek is a clay courter, and can play inspired tennis at times. His draw is favorable, with the seemingly struggling Robredo to open, then Veic/Troicki (neither of whom are that great right now), and a qualifier or a struggling Dolgopolov in the quarters.
Semis:Gasquet d. Fognini
Berlocq d. Hajek
Gasquet should get past Monfils and Mayer, though either could make the final. In addition, Fognini should worn out by the semis, but he has nothing in his draw to trouble him before except perhaps Tursunov. Fognini won the only clay meeting between them this year in Monte Carlo.
Berlocq should escape his section, though watch out for Vesely. Hajek gets a nice chance the semis. Berlocq is 2-0 career against Hajek, with both meetings coming on clay.
Final:Gasquet d. Berlocq
They have never met, but Gasquet is better and thus edge to him.
ATP World Tour 250
April 30-May 5, 2012
Prize Money: € 398,250
One of the most celebrated small clay court tournaments, the Estoril Open in Portugal begins today with one top ten player and a bevy of others vying for the title in the picturesque setting of Estoril, which is nearby the capital city of Lisbon. This a combined event and WTA action will also be taking place.
Top 4 Seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Juan Martin Del Potro
2: Richard Gasquet
3: Stanislas Wawrinka
4: Albert Ramos
1st round matchups to watch:
Atilla Balazs vs. Bobby Reynolds
Bucharest semi-finalist Balazs will take on American Bobby Reynolds. Can he continue the momentum?
Matt Ebden vs. Albert Montanes
The big serving Aussie Ebden will try to knock off 7 seed Spanish grinder Albert Montanes.
Denis Istomin vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
The 5 seed Istomin will have to deal with the still dangerous Mathieu.
Bjorn Phau vs. Fredrico Gil
The Portugese favorite and hometown player Gil will try to get off to a good start against the veteran Phau.
Top Seed Juan Martin Del Potro opens up his title defense against either wildcard Pedro Sousa or Rui Machado, both of Portugal. He could then face dangerous 7 seed Albert Montanes before a possible semi-final match up with 3 seed Stanislas Wawrinka or 5 seed Robin Haase. Atilla Balazs and Igor Andreev also lurk in the top half of the draw among others.
Wawrinka will face either a qualifier or Daniel Gimeno-Traver before a possible match-up with the Dutchman Haase or the veteran Russian Andreev. Haase opens up against Simone Bolleli of Italy.
2 seed Richard Gasquet opens up his quest against either fellow Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Italian Paolo Lorezni. He will then have to deal with 8 seed Flavio Cipolla, Argentina Diego Junquiera or a qualifier before a possible semi-final match-up with Albert Ramos or Denis Istomin.
Ramos, the 4 seed, will open against either Gil or Phau before a possible match-up with Istomin, Mathieu or one of the Portuguese wild cards (Joao Sousa or Gastao Elias).
Dark Horse: Paolo Lorenzi
The veteran Italian who has reached two clay court challenger level finals this year in Sarasota and San Luis Potosí opens up with Edouard Roger Vasselin, and if he advances, will face the notoriously inconsistent Richard Gasquet. If he can knock off Gasquet, the rest of his matches should be manageable as he could face fellow Italian Flavio Cipolla and Casablanca finalist Albert Ramos (or 5 seed Istomin).
Dark Horse Lorenzi
Wawrinka d. Del Potro
Wawrinka d. Lorenzi
Wawrinka, who has reached two semi-finals on clay this year (Acapulco and Buenos Aires), will try to earn his first ATP title in over a year.