2013 ATP London, Halle Previews and Predictions

2013 ATP London, Halle Previews and Predictions
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com

The dirt season is now over and tennis will return to the ornate lawns of Queen’s Club and the Gerry Weber Open, bringing faster tennis and more volleying.

Aegon LTA Official Site

ATP London (Queen’s Club)
AEGON Championships
ATP World Tour 250
June 10-June 16, 2013
Prize money: € 779,665

The Big Bracket 250 and joint WTA event brings tennis back to London.

Top 8 seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Andy Murray
2: Tomas Berdych
3: Juan Martin Del Potro
4: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
5: Marin Cilic
6: Sam Querrey
7: Alex Dolgopolov
8: Kevin Anderson

1st round matchups to watch:

Bernard Tomic vs. Benjamin Becker

Tomic is in dire straits right now but he still has talent and he still has skill on grass. Becker is a journeyman, but he is in the finals of Nottingham and is solid at trying to wear guys down.Have to say Becker is the favorite but this should be a quality match.

Kenny De Schepper vs. Rajeev Ram

De Schepper is a rising young Frenchman who relies on power and a big serve. Ram is of course the lanky American serve and volleyer who does his best work on grass, thus making this a great clash of styles. De Schepper comes off semis in the Nottingham challenger while Ram lost early, thus he should have a bit of an edge.

(13) Jarkko Nieminen vs. Ryan Harrison

First meeting between the pair: Nieminen has had a solid year and is good on all surfaces, while Harrison is working his way back to success but lost in the opening round of the Nottingham grass court challenger this week. Expect quality ball striking and a lot of fast movement.

Top Half:

Andy Murray will be able to occupy his time with something besides twittering once again. He’ll start with Nicolas Mahut or Rhyne Williams and if he gets Mahut again, it would be a rematch of a match he lost at this very event last year. After that, Murray should meet Marinko Matosevic or Michael Llodra. A qualifier and Pablo Andujar are also options in a winnable but challenging section.

The struggling Alex Dolgopolov will play Santiago Giraldo or Jesse Levine, and the winner could get Lukas Rosol, who comes off a clay challenger. A qualifier and the Becker/Tomic winner are all options in this open section.

RG semifinalist Tsonga, who was very disappointing in his semifinal match, will take on Guillaume Rufin or Edouard Roger-Vasselin. After that, he could see Tatsuma Ito, Andrey Kuznetsov, Denis Istomin or Igor Sijsling (who is playing well right now). Istomin will be looking for some better results off of clay.

The versatile Kevin Anderson will play the De Schepper/Ram winner in a key 2nd round match and that should be followed by Benoit Paire, a qualifier, Denis Kudla or Federico Del Bonis.

Bottom Half:

Tomas Berdych, who fell in that huge opening round match at the French against Monfils, will try again against Thiemo De Bakker or Rogerio Dutra Silva. Dutchman De Bakker has been playing a bit better recently and could do some damage. The rest of this section is Grega Zemlja, Sergiy Stakhovsky and British wild cards Ed Corrie and Kyle Edmund, a couple of young guns.

Marin Cilic could be facing his countryman and the Croatian #2 Ivan Dodig. If Dodig can beat British journeyman James Ward, then Julian Benneteau and Adrian Mannarino will face each other while the crafty Ricardas Berankis will play a qualifier. Benneteau beat Berankis at the French Open in a quality match and Rycka will try to get him back on the grass if they meet.

Juan Martin Del Potro is back in the field after many questions about his health. He’ll play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or grass maestro Xaiver Malisse and the winner should get Nieminen/Harrison. Guido Pella and British Davis Cup hero Dan Evans are also options.

Sam Querrey should feel much more comfortable on grass and will play Aljaz Bedene or Paul-Henri Mathieu and then could get Grigor Dimitrov, Dudi Sela or veterans Michael Russell and Lleyton Hewitt.This section is deeply intriguing.

Dark Horse: Lleyton Hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt, 2012 ATP Newport, Copyright TennisEastCoast.com
There are a lot of choices in terms of dark horses, but Hewitt played well and went out in 5 sets in Paris. Now back on the comfortable confines of grass he has a draw that gives him a chance to make to some noise if he can beat Muscles Russell and then Grisha Dimitrov, followed by an upset of Sam Querrey most likely. After that, it will probably be another big match with Del Potro. He will not be favored after the opening round but anything is possible when it comes to the tenacious veteran.

Predictions:

Semis:
Murray d. Anderson
Berdych d. Querrey

Murray should be able to find his way to the semis as long as his back is ok though Rosol could be a challenge. Anderson needs to get past De Schepper/Ram, but after that things open up and Tsonga is probably tired from the French, setting up the South African for another good showing. Still, I don’t think it will be enough against the counterpuncher Murray who can parry him well. the h2h is 1-1, but they haven’t met since 2011.

Berdych, though he lost, really didn’t play poorly at RG, and his draw is about as good as it gets, likely rolling the semis unless an underdog like Berankis were to pull off a shock. I also think Querrey squeaks past his section and I can’t trust Del Potro health-wise right now. Berdych is just a better version of Querrey in almost every department, owning a 5-1 h2h record against him.

Final:
Berdych d. Murray

Could be a great final. Overall, Berdych leads the h2h 5-4 but Murray has a better record on faster surfaces.

Gerry Weber Open Official Site

ATP Halle

Gerry Weber Open
ATP World Tour 250
Halle, Germany
June 10-June 16, 2013
Prize money: € 779,665

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Roger Federer
2: Richard Gasquet
3: Tommy Haas
4: Kei Nishikori

1st round matchups to watch:

(7) Jerzy Janowicz vs. Phillip Petzschner

Janowicz made the 3rd round in Paris and has the game to do damage on grass given his good serve and quality volleying. Petzschner really is one of those players who only gets fanfare during the grass court season and thus this is an interesting match.

(5) Milos Raonic vs. Gael Monfils

Raonic will be happy to return to some quicker courts while Monfils was one of the huge storylines in Paris, this is a massive match and Raonic will be the favorite though Monfils won their only meeting indoors in 2011. Monfils is still unpredictable but at least he should be somewhat more rested.

Top Half:

4 time Halle champ Roger Federer gets Cedrik-Marcel Stebe or a qualifier, then should get the Janowicz/Petzschner winner, unless David Goffin or Mischa Zverev get through to round 3.

FO quarterfinalist Tommy Haas will play Ernests Gulbis for the 3rd time this year (having split meetings so far) if Gulbis beats Marcos Baghdatis in what would be an entertaining second round match. The Raonic/Monfils winner will play Daniel Brands or a qualifier in another big round 2 match.

Bottom Half:

Richard Gasquet will play Jurgen Melzer or a qualifier, then he will get one of Florian Mayer, Jan-Lennard Struff, Leo Mayer or a qualifier in an easy section. Kei Nishikori will play Mikhail Youzhny or Dani Gimeno-Traver and the winner likely gets Phillip Kohlschreiber if Kohli beats Carlos Berlocq and Lukasz Kubot/Tobias Kamke.

Dark Horse: Jerzy Janowicz

Janowicz has the game for grass but it will all come down to a likely round 3 meeting with Federer, Fed is still one of the best players ever on grass, but this year he has just not been reliable, losing once again before the semis, to Tsonga in Paris. With Janowicz rising and Federer slipping the conditions are ripe for an upset after that he could get Haas/Brands/Gulbis/Raonic/Monfils all of whom would be tough, and Brands qualifies as a bit of a dark horse too. I will note Federer did beat Janowicz in Rome this year, but that was on clay. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xfOtobpn_E

Predictions:

Semis:
Janowicz d. Haas
Kohlschreiber d. Gasquet

Haas has a tough section but I think he makes it out before falling to the big Pole, Kohlschreiber should beat Nishikori on grass and then edge Gasquet who has a cupcake draw until the semis.

Final:
Janowicz d. Kohlschreiber

Janowicz won their only meeting last year indoors in Paris in route to the masters final and I think he wins his first ATP title in Halle.

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