2013 ATP Valencia, Basel Previews and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The final three weeks of the ATP season are upon us, and two of the last three full field events are this week, both indoors in Europe, World Tour Final spots are still up for grabs and both events are worth 500 points, meaning there is still much to play for.
Valencia Open 500
ATP World Tour 500
October 21-October 27, 2013
Prize Money: € 1,496,095
Top 8 seeds
1: David Ferrer
2: Tommy Haas
3: Nicolas Almagro
4: John Isner
5: Jerzy Janowicz
6: Gilles Simon
7: Fabio Fognini
8: Kevin Anderson
First round Matchups to watch:
(1)David Ferrer vs. Gael Monfils
Stockholm finalist Ferrer will seek to defend his title in Valencia and though he did make the final in Stockholm, his form is well below its normal level. Monfils, meanwhile, was shocked by veteran journeyman Jaroslav Pospisil in the first round of Vienna and his inconsistent play continues.
This could either be a thrilling match or a blowout, and a lot of that depends on Monfils, who could pull off the upset or could get double bageled. The h2h is 3-1 in favor of the Frenchman, though Ferrer demolished Monfils at the beginning of this year on hard courts.
(8)Kevin Anderson vs (WC)Roberto Bautista Agut
Kevin Anderson is seeded here, but he is dragging his way into Valencia on fumes, not having won consecutive matches at any tournament since the summer. RBA is playing at home in Spain and has gotten a bit of time off to refocus his game and try to make a run here. Given the bad form of Anderson at the moment, the upset seems to be in play.
(4)John Isner vs. Ernests Gulbis
Gulbis is 2-0 career against Isner. They have never met on a hard court surface, and the Latavian comes off semifinals in Stockholm, where he got 3 good wins but suffered a tough loss with the lead against David Ferrer. Isner lost somewhat early in both Beijing and Shanghai, and will be playing what should be his second to last tournament of the year. This match could also go either way, but I think Gulbis will pull off the slight upset over the American.
Jarkko Nieminen vs. Benoit Paire
An interesting matchup of players who tend to have good results indoors, the road runner Nieminen and the mercurial Paire will face off. Paire comes off semis in Stockholm but his form is always unpredictable, while Nieminen is mainly treading water at the moment. Paire should be the favorite but I call this a match to watch because he is susceptible to being upset here.
(2)Tommy Haas vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Vienna champion Haas should be a big favorite over his countryman, the struggling Kohlschreiber, who lost to Ruben Bemelmans in Vienna. However, Haas was not playing well coming into Vienna and he has played a lot of tennis this year making him at least somewhat susceptible to a loss. He leads the h2h 3-2, but this is their first meeting on any sort of hard surface, much less indoors, and though I still expect him to win, just like Paire he is vulnerable here with such a tough field.
Ferrer/Monfils will face Julien Benneteau/Feliciano Lopez in round 2. All four of those players are very capable of great play indoors when at their best but none are predictable right now. The quarterfinalist from this section should face Jerzy Janowicz as the Pole gears up to defend all those points in Paris next week, and he played decently in Stockholm the preceding week.
Janowicz opens with qualifier Pablo Carreno-Busta and then faces Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Joao Sousa, both of whom have made recent deep runs at indoor fall events (St. Petersburg final and Kuala Lumpur champion). This is a very tough section of the draw.
3 seed and Spaniard Nicolas Almagro is back after good play on the Asian swing. He’s also a two time former champion here. Nico opens with the hapless Pablo Andujar, as Fernando Verdasco or Michal Przysiezny wait on deck. Verdasco withdrew from Stockholm midway through the event and his form is questionable. I expect it to be Almagro vs one of Fabio Fognini/Martin Klizan/Janko Tipsarevic/Marcel Granollers in the quarterfinals. That section is much weaker and none of the players are in the best form. Tipsarevic continues to get good draws but perform incredibly poorly, and thus Fognini should get through.
Haas/Kohlschreiber will face Bernard Tomic/Mikhail Youzhny. As Haas is the only in-form player of those 4, he should advance to face Paire/Nieminen or Gilles Simon in the quarters. Simon opens with qualifier Alejandro Falla, and any of those round 2 matches would be a treat. Paire beat Simon in Shanghai recently.
Isner/Gulbis will face Jeremy Chardy/Florian Mayer, with one of Anderson/Bautista Agut Albert Montanes/Dmitry Tursunov awaiting in the quarters. This is a very winnable and open section for anyone who wants to seize the moment.
Dark Horse: Julien Benneteau
Benny has had indoor success and with both his first round opponent Feliciano Lopez and Monfils/Ferrer being out of form, he has a good chance to at least make the quarters in such a tough field.
Almagro d. Janowicz
Haas d. Gulbis
Almagro and JJ have met twice this year with a split decision. Gulbis has won every hard court meeting against Haas (2-0), but form wise I give Tommy a slight edge. All of their matches have gone the distance.
Almagro d. Haas
Haas is 3-0 career against Almagro, including a win this year on hard courts, but the two hard court matches have played have gone the distance. I think Almagro will finally claim victory here.
Swiss Indoors Basel
ATP World Tour 500
October 21-October 27, 2013
Prize Money: € 1,988,835
Top 8 seeds
1: Juan Martin Del Potro
2: Tomas Berdych
3: Roger Federer
4: Stanislas Wawrinka
5: Richard Gasquet
6: Kei Nishikori
7: Andreas Seppi
8: Grigor Dimitrov
First round Matchups to watch:
(8)Grigor Dimitrov vs. Radek Stepanek
This match is mainly interesting to watch in order to see how Dimitrov performs coming off his first ATP title in Stockholm. The veteran Stepanek made the quarters in Vienna and can do well on this surface, making him a respectable opponent who could pull of the upset.
Vasek Pospisil vs. Robin Haase
A reprisal of their match in Vienna last week in round 2, which was won by Haase in nail biting fashion. The Dutchman would go on to make the final in that event and he will look to keep the momentum going. This match is a toss-up to me.
(2)Tomas Berdych vs. Ivo Karlovic
This match could be a tricky test for Berdych, who is in unpredictable form heading into this event as the 2 seed. Karlovic made the semis in Moscow and the h2h is an even 2-2. I expect the Czech to win, but Ivo could work his way to a victory.
Defending champ Juan Martin Del Potro opens with Henri Laaksonen, while Benjamin Becker or Marcos Baghdatis await for him. In the quarters, it should be JMDP vs. Moscow champ Richard Gasquet in a huge clash. Gasquet is also in the hunt to qualify for the World Tour finals, and wins against Michael Llodra and Paul-Henri Mathieu/Denis Kudla would keep the momentum going.
Stan Wawrinka will also seek to solidify a WTF berth. The Swissman has returned home to play after a career year for him and he will open with Edouard Roger-Vasselin followed by Victor Hanescu/Tobias Kamke. One of Andreas Seppi/Daniel Brands/Dani Gimeno-Traver/Lukasz Kubot await in the semis, probably Brands or Seppi in what is a weak section.
Berdych/Karlovic will face Pospisil/Haase in round 2. The Quarterfinalist there will most likely face either 6 seed Kei Nishikori, or Ivan Dodig. Nishikori opens with Marco Chiudinelli, while Dodig plays Carlos Berlocq.
Roger Federer is also under pressure to make the World Tour Finals after his “worst” year of tennis in a long time. The Swiss favorite and dominator of Basel opens with Adrian Mannarino, who he took apart at the US Open in their last meeting, and should get Denis Istomin in round 2. Istomin just needs to be Horacio Zeballos.
Federer doesn’t have that hard of a draw as Dimitrov/Stepanek or Kenny De Schepper/Alex Dolgopolov will be his quarterfinal opponent. Dimitrov should be tired, Stepanek could capitalize as De Schepper is inconsistent and Dolgopolov has had good draws but is slumping and has all year.
Dark Horse: Kenny De Schepper
I don’t expect that much from the young Frenchman, but he can play well indoors when his game is on, and though he has poor movement, he’s got a very good serve. Dolgopolov, his first opponent, is in poor form. De Schepper’s second opponent? Either Dimitrov or Stepanek who are beatable, as Dimitrov should be tired and Stepanek is inconsistent. In the quarters, a match against Federer is most likely. You just never know these days.
Del Potro d. Wawrinka
Federer d. Berdych
Del Po and Stan have never met on hard courts, but JMDP controls the h2h and I think he will win this one, given his form on the Asian swing.
Berdych has won the last two meetings against Fed but his form doesn’t seem that great. You have to think that Fed will be super-motivated at home, trying to qualify for the WTF and working with a new coaching team after dropping Paul Annacone.
Del Potro d. Federer
A rematch of the Basel final last year. I expect the same result.
A healthy Del Potro should dictate things and win the big points to take the title here and maintain his ranking points.