2014 ATP Kitzbuhel Preview, Predictions

2014 ATP Kitzbuhel Preview, Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

Official Site

Official Site

ATP Kitzbuhel
bet-at-home Cup Kitzbuhel

ATP World Tour 250
Kitzbuhel, Austria
July 27-August 2,2014
Prize Money: € 426,605

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Philipp Kohlschreiber (24)
2: Marcel Granollers (28)
3: Lukas Rosol (43)
4: Andreas Seppi (48)

No player ranked in the top 20, but the overshadowed event in Kitzbuhel this week does manage to get the top 4 seeds who are top 50 players.

First round matchups to watch:

Jurgen Melzer vs. Pablo Andujar

Melzer is making his post-Wimbledon debut, while Andujar comes off the title in Gstaad. Playing on home soil, Melzer should have a crowd-infused boost as he seeks to return to his former form as one of the top clay-courters on tour. However, Andujar is striking the ball well right now, and assuming he’s not incredibly fatigued, he is likely a slight favorite here. Their only head-to-head meeting went 3 sets on a hard court and Melzer won it.

Top Half:

Former finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber is seeking to continue his good form from making the semifinals in Hamburg. He will open with David Goffin, who has been playing well on the challenger circuit, or Kenny De Schepper, and then should face Melzer/Andujar in the quarters, though Robin Haase, who always seems to excel in Kitzbuhel, could spoil the party. Haase faces Paolo Lorenzi first before the Melzer/Andujar winner.

Lukas Rosol, who has been having a good clay court season, will open with an Austrian, Gerald Melzer or Andreas Haider-Maurer. Melzer is still looking for elusive ATP main draw success. Rosol should face Pablo Carreno Busta in a competitive quarterfinal. The Argentine gets Maximo Gonzalez first and then Albert Ramos/Viktor Galovic.

Bottom Half:

Marcel Granollers will face Alex Zverev or Diego Sebastian Schwartzman. Zverev could not repeat his Hamburg success last week in Gstaad, but he’ll get another shot as a wild card, and Granollers is a beatable opponent. Granollers/Zverev will likely face Jiri Vesely or Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals. Thiem was awful last week in Gstaad and he must beat Joao Souza and Vesely or JL Struff to reach the quarterfinals on home soil. He has a win over Vesely on clay recently. There are talented but inconsistent players in this section.

Andreas Seppi, who has not been impressive at all, will face Dustin Brown or Pere Riba and likely Gstaad finalist Juan Monaco in the quarters. Pico faces Andrey Golubev and Jarkko Nieminen/Teymuraz Gabashvili for his first two matches, and none of those opponents are imposing.

Dark Horse: Juan Monaco

He found some of his previous talent in Gstaad, where he reached the final, and with an easy draw he could find himself in yet another final this week. Given the eclectic field, he has as good a chance as any right now.

Predictions

Semis:

Kohlschreiber d. Rosol
Granollers d. Monaco

Monaco has a win over Granollers this year and a 2-1 overall h2h against the Spaniard on clay.

Kohli just beat Rosol in Hamburg, and also has a win against him in Kitzbuhel in 2012 (Rosol won in Stuttgart this year).

Final:

Kohlschreiber d. Granollers

Form and focus should favor the German to win the title this week.

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2014 ATP Dusseldorf, Nice Recaps: Gulbis, Kohli Take Titles On The Road To Roland Garros

2014 ATP Dusseldorf, Nice Recaps: Gulbis, Kohli Take Titles On The Road To Roland Garros

ATP Dusseldorf

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber has more or less struggled this season but he found some form and wont the title on home soil in Dusseldorf 6-2, 7-6 over Ivo Karlovic, who was contesting his second ATP final of the season.

Kohli beat Teymuraz Gabashvili, Mate Delic in 3 sets, and Denis Istomin in 3 en route to the final, while Karlovic beat Tobias Kamke, Nikola Milojevic, Juan Monaco and Jiri Vesely to reach the final.

Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky took the doubles title over Martin Emmrich/Christopher Kas.

ATP Nice

Ernests Gulbis, 2012 ATP Cincinnati,Copyright Courtney Massey

Ernests Gulbis won his second title of 2014 with a 6-1, 7-6 win over Federico Delbonis, who was contesting his second ATP final of the season and third of his career (he drops to 1-2 in finals).

Gulbis beat Martin Klizan and Dmitry Tursunov in 3 sets, then Albert Montanes in the semis.

Delbonis beat Mikhail Kukushkin, Paul Henri Mathieu, John Isner and Gilles Simon to reach the final.

Martin Klizan and Philipp Oswald won the doubles title over Rohan Bopanna/Aisam Qureshi.

—Steen Kirby

2014 ATP Dusseldorf, Nice Previews & Predictions

2014 ATP Dusseldorf, Nice Previews & Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

I’m back from a short hiatus due to a move with previews of the clay 250 tournaments in Dusseldorf and Nice. Thse are the final tune ups before Roland Garros for many players.

dusseldorf

ATP Dusseldorf
Dusseldorf Open
ATP World Tour 250
Dusseldorf, Germany
May 18-May 24, 2014
Prize money: € 426,605

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Philipp Kohlschreiber (29)
2: Marcel Granollers (31)
3: Andreas Seppi (34)
4: Joao Sousa (41)

No top 25 player in Dusseldorf and a host of seeds looking for some form makes this is a very wide open event.

First round matches to watch:

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Jurgen Melzer

PCB

PCB

10 years the younger, PCB comes off qualifying in Rome before an opening round loss to Ivo Karlovic, while Melzer reached the third round and scored wins over John Isner and Marin Cilic. Melzer seems to be steadily improving since his comeback from injury and is up to a competitive level now. With that momentum, I think he will get past PCB, who can be inconsistent at times.

Top Half:

Top seed and home German Philipp Kohlschreiber snapped a 3 match losing streak in Rome as he beat Jerzy Janowicz and Tommy Robredo before falling to Novak Djokovic in a surprising 3 sets. Kohli has had a rough year and is just 5-5 on clay this season, but his trend finally seems upward. He faces Dusan Lajovic or Teymuraz Gabashvili first, most likely Gabashvili, who has beaten him once on clay 10 years ago (Kohli won their other two meetings, however, including a Wimbledon 5 setter in 2010). Gabashvili qualified in Madrid and has had a career season, thus he could make the quarterfinals, but Kohlschreiber still seems the odds-on favorite in the section.

It will be a weak quarterfinalist out of the section below, as it comes down to Rendy Lu/Dustin Brown/Michal Przysiezny or a qualifier. Brown has lost two straight and isn’t that great on clay, Lu rarely plays clay and last played a hard court challenger in Asia, and Przysiezny has endured a miserable season and has only one match with 12 losses all season. Przysiezny hasn’t won a match in months. If the qualifier doesn’t come in and make the quarters or better, I would have to go with Lu, given he’s the only player with any form, though I expect Kohlschreiber (or Gabashvili) to blow through whoever it is in this section in the quarters.

Andreas Seppi is a negative 5-7 on clay this season and has lost three straight on the surface, including two straight opening match losses in Madrid and Rome. The losses were to competitive opponents (Tommy Haas x2 and Fernando Verdasco) but still it has not been the best of seasons for the Italian and he could use some form going into RG. Seppi faces Marinko Matosevic or Adrian Mannarino first, and given neither is good on clay he should be safe to reach the quarterfinals. Matosevic has had a decent clay court season by his standards though and deserves some credit.

Seppi vs defending finalist Jarkko Nieminen seems like the most likely quarterfinal match up in a battle of veterans. Nieminen seems to have finally broken the bad slump by reaching the third round in Rome, where he lost to Rafael Nadal after beating Igor Sijsling and Robin Haase. Nieminen is 3-0 career against Seppi and 2-0 on clay, and though neither has been impressive this season, I’d say Seppi has been slightly better. This is a hard judgement call in the quarterfinals. I should also add Nieminen must beat Denis Istomin. Jarkko has a winning h2h record, though Denis has reached two quarters on clay this year, and a qualifier to reach the quarterfinals.

Bottom Half:

Marcel Granollers will face Benjamin Becker or defending champion Juan Monaco in his first match. Monaco has lost two straight, albeit to good opponents (Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo) and Granollers won a 3 setter on clay against him last year. Neither player has been very good recently, but I think Granollers has a slight edge as he did reach the second round in Oeiras and Rome.

It will be yet another weak quarterfinal opponent for the seed as Ivo Karlovic, who is just 1-4 this clay court season, is the most likely quarterfinalist from a section that has his first opponent Tobias Kamke, who is poor on clay, a qualifier, and 19-year-old Serbian wild card Nikola Milojevic. The qualifier will have a shot at the quarters, but otherwise Granollers/Monaco should safely make the semis.

The seriously struggling Joao Sousa will face Melzer/PCB first, and though he is at least in my opinion a good player, his record of 6 straight losses, all on clay, speaks for itself. He is just 3-8 on the surface this year and a number of his losses are of the very bad variety, thus he seems entirely sapped of confidence with limited tread on his tires at the moment. I expect Melzer or PCB to make the quarters and probably meet Igor Sijsling, who was a semifinalist here last year and has to defeat Jiri Vesely and Dudi Sela/Nikolay Davydenko in round 2. Davydenko is a shell of himself and Sela is no threat on clay, so Sijsling doesn’t have to be at his peak level to reach the quarters.

Dark Horse: Jurgen Melzer

Dusseldorf could potentially be Melzer’s big comeback tournament as the draw sets up for him. After his quality play in Rome, he may finally be getting his game and his confidence back to a level where he can take advantage. PCB and Sousa will hang in there on clay but are beatable right now. Granollers/Monaco in the semis aren’t that threatening compared to how Melzer is playing right now, meaning the final would be his real test, against most likely Kohlschreiber.

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Predictions

Semis:
Kohlschreiber d. Seppi
Melzer d. Granollers

Kohli and Seppi have met a bunch of times. The h2h on clay is an even 1-1. Kohli beat Seppi this year in Dubai and has won the last two meetings. Given the form factor and the home advantage, it should be Kohlschreiber in the final.

Melzer is 2-0 against Granollers with a win on clay. I think he makes the final this week.

Final:
Kohlschreiber d. Melzer

Kohlschreiber just beat Melzer in Barcelona, though the Austrian veteran didn’t have much match practice in advance of that and they have both beaten each other on clay making this possible final somewhat of a toss-up. However, I think Peppo will just have that extra edge with the home crowd and will win this, probably in 3.

Nice Site

ATP Nice
Open de Nice Cote d’Azur
ATP World Tour 250
Nice, France
May 18-May 24, 2014
prize money: € 426,605

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: John Isner (11)
2: Ernests Gulbis (17)
3: Gael Monfils (24)
4: Gilles Simon (30)

Nice brings in three of the top 25 for a solid-enough pre-slam 250 tournament.

First round matches to watch:

Bernard Tomic vs. Martin Klizan

A match-up of two formerly promising players who have gone through patches of disappointing performances. Tomic is finally back on tour after an injury sidelined him and excluding a weird tank in Miami, he is 1-2 since returning and is still finding his feet. He played qualies in Madrid and Rome. Klizan has had a different path, as he lifted the trophy in Munich last and is seemingly in excellent form with a well above .500 record this season. Given this is clay and the wide form gap, Klizan should frankly breeze past Tomic, but he lost in 3 to him on indoor hard in their only meeting and this is more of a gut check match for Tomic than anything else, where winning a set would be on the right track.

Top Half:

That's Nice

John Isner, who followed up a third round showing in Madrid with an opening round loss in Rome, will face fellow big server Kenny De Schepper in round 2 or a qualifier. His first test should come against French veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu who can still put together quality showings from time to time, though he is past his prime. PHM faces a qualifier and then Mikhail Kukushkin, who he just beat a few weeks ago, or Federico Delbonis. Delbonis has lost two straight, thus the second career meeting between PHM and Isner seems likely. PHM very famously beat Isner 18-16 in the fifth set of the French two years ago, and I think he will win a much shorter meeting as he played well in Bucharest and qualified in Madrid.

Gilles Simon, who is an even 3-3 in his last 6 matches, including a 3-set loss to Nadal in Rome in his last match (where he took the first set tiebreak and forced a second set tiebreak but lost it and lost the plot from there). He will face Steve Johnson or the very dangerous lurker Dominic Thiem in his first match. Thiem seems soon to be a top 30 player on a consistent basis, perhaps the new Grigor Dimitrov type young star, but he did retire in his last match in Madrid after qualifying for yet another ATP main draw and could be rusty. I give Thiem a great chance to upset Simon and reach the quarters. With two straight third round showings, he seems close to breaking through big time.

Oeiras champion Carlos Berlocq will face Julien Benneteau, who last played a challenger and is looking to regain some form, in round 1. It should be Berlocq against a qualifier or Nicolas Mahut in round 2. Berlocq could reach the semis, but I tip Thiem/Simon to do so.

Bottom Half:

Ernests Gulbis, 2012 ATP Cincinnati/Courtney Massey

Ernests Gulbis will face Klizan/Tomic in round 2 and either one of those matches will be fun to watch. Gulbis reached the third round in Rome and quarters in Madrid, losing to David Ferrer twice and he is playing well on clay against solid competition in all the big tournaments. All that said, Klizan could trouble him as they have never met, and I feel that round 2 match is a toss-up.

Expect Gulbis/Klizan against one of Dmitry Tursunov/Aleksandr Nedovyesov/Filippo Volandri/Robin Haase in the quarters in what is a very porous section. Tursunov is really struggling, though he did win a match in Rome (had lost four straight before that). Nedovyesov has lost five straight and is in terrible form. Volandri has lost two straight and was poor before a decent showing in the Rome Challenger against weaker competition, and Haase has lost three straight including two straight opening round losses. You can flip a coin to pick the quarterfinalist, but Gulbis/Klizan are pretty certain for the semis.

Gael Monfils and Albert Montanes are expected to reprise their meeting in the final here last year in round 2, as Montanes only needs to beat Matt Ebden to set that up. Monfils hasn’t played since Bucharest, while Montanes has lost two straight. Montanes dominates the clay h2h 4-1, but Monfils won the last meeting last year on clay in 3 sets and most of their meetings went the distance on clay. I’ll edge Monfils to reach the quarters and he will get a very beatable opponent, one of Edouard Roger-Vasselin/Alejandro Gonzalez/Borna Coric/qualifier.

ERV has lost 3 straight and is poor on clay, though his losses to Kohlschreiber, Tsonga and Dimitrov aren’t that bad, the latter two coming in 3 sets, while Gonzalez qualified in Rome. Coric is a very talented young player, who at just 17, has already played some big matches and scored some good wins, but I don’t feel it is quite his time for a breakthrough yet.

Monfils/ERV is the most likely quarter with Le Monf in the semis

Dark Horse: Martin Klizan

Klizan was a successful dark horse campaigner in Munich, where he lifted the trophy, and he could follow that up in Nice as long as he can get past Tomic/Gulbis first. The quarterfinalist, my guess is Haase, is beatable, and Monfils/Montanes/other aren’t that imposing in the semis. Unless Monfils is in Sliderman mode, one could believeably make the case that Klizan will take the title in Nice this week.

Predictions

Semis:
Mathieu d. Thiem
Gulbis d. Monfils

I’m thinking it will be a battle of Old vs. New in the top half semi, and it could go either way, but i’ll go with experience and Mathieu. In the bottom half semi, it would be fun to see Gulbis take on Monfils in their second career meeting. Monfils won at the French in 4 sets last year, but I think Ernie will get him back as he is in good form.

Final:
Gulbis d. Mathieu

PHM is surprisingly 3-0 against Gulbis including a win on clay in 2012, but Gulbis is fresher and in better form. Unless he has a brain freeze, he seems the favorite to take the title this week.

Last Call for Dirtball: 2013 ATP Kitzbuhel Preview, Predictions

Kitzbuhel Bet at Home Cup Site

Dirtballers unite! The last clay court event of 2013 has arrived!

I’m talking about the ATP 250 event in Kiztbuhel, Austria.


bet-at-home Cup Kitzbuhel

ATP World Tour 250
Kitzbuhel, Austria
July 28-August 3, 2013
Prize Money: €467,800

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)

1: Phillip Kohlschreiber
2: Juan Monaco
3: Fernando Verdasco
4: Jurgen Melzer

First Round matchups to watch:

Carlos Berlocq vs. Daniel Brands

Berlocq comes off a bad 2nd round loss in Umag to the poor form Horacio Zeballos, but has performed very well on clay post-Wimbledon. He will get a tough opening round meeting with Daniel Brands, who he has never played before. Brands topped Roger Federer en route to the Gstaad quarters, and I give a slight edge to Argentine Berlocq in this match.

kitzbuhel

Top Half:

Kohlschreiber hasn’t played since Stuttgart, where he reached the final, and he will play the winner of Leo Mayer/Kenny De Schepper in his opening match. In the quarters, Kohli will most likely face Gstaad quarterfinalist Marcel Granollers, if Granollers can beat Mate Pavic and Horacio Zeballos/Qualifier. Zeballos retired in his last match in Umag with a back problem.

Fernando Verdasco comes off quarters in Hamburg and will take on Thomaz Bellucci or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Bellucci lost his opening match in Gstaad, and GGL lost in the 2nd round of the same event. Verdasco should face Berlocq/Brands or current Gstaad finalist and twice defending champ Robin Haase. Haase opens with Guillaume Rufin in Round 1.

Bottom Half:

Gstaad quarterfinalist Pico Monaco will face Andreas Haider-Maurer or a qualifier. Haider-Maurer retired from his last match in Umag. In the quarters, Monaco should face Roberto Bautista Agut, if RBA can beat a qualifier and Dani Gimeno Traver/Qualifier.

Jurgen Melzer will be in his first tournament back since Wimbledon, hopefully fresh and healthy, as he takes on Andrey Kuznetsov or up-and-coming Austrian wildcard Dominic Thiem. The winner will get one of Gstaad semifinalist Victor Hanescu/Umag quarterfinalist Aljaz Bedene/Umag quarterfinalist Albert Montanes/Adrian Ungur, in a stacked section.

Dark Horse: Albert Montanes

Montanes can play very well periodically and does his best on clay. I mostly picked him as a darkhorse becuase of his draw. After Ungur, he will get Hanescu or Bedene. Hanescu may be tired and Bedene was honestly lucky to make the Umag quarters. With Melzer the seed in the quarterfinals section, the semifinals or even a final is possible, depending on Melzer’s form (and Monaco’s).


Predictions:

Semis:

Verdasco d. Kohlschreiber

Monaco d. Montanes

Verdasco, assuming he can get past Kitzbuhel GOAT Haase.

If Robin makes it that far, he is 4-5 career against Peppo but they haven’t played since 2010.

I still give the Spaniard an ever-so-slight edge to advance.

Monaco isn’t in the greatest form, but beyond Bautista-Agut, I see nobody to stop him until the final.

Montanes, Melzer or perhaps Hanescu probably won’t. Montanes is 2-1 against Monaco, but his 2 wins were back in 2006 and 2009. Monaco won the 2012 meeting in 3 sets on clay.


Final:

Verdasco d. Monaco

Monaco is 4-2 against Verdasco on clay, and 5-4 overall.

But given their current form, I still like Verdasco if this is the final.

—Steen Kirby

2013 ATP Dusseldorf, Nice Previews

2013 ATP Dusseldorf, Nice Previews
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com

Power Horse Cup

It’s time for the final stops on the road to Roland Garros for the ATP World Tour.

ATP Dusseldorf

Power Horse Cup
ATP World Tour 250
Dusseldorf, Germany
May 19-May 25, 2013
Prize Money: € 410,200

Dusseldorf was formerly known as the “World Team Cup”, a team based event, but now it is just a normal clay court ATP 250.

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Janko Tipsarevic
2: Tommy Haas
3: Juan Monaco
4: Phillip Kohlschreiber

Dusseldorf manages to bring in a solid field for a pre-slam 250.

First round matchups to watch:

(5)Lukas Rosol vs. Daniel Brands

Rosol is at a career high ranking of 33, and is looking to break into the top 30 with a solid showing. He won Bucharest of course and has been red hot this year. Now he will run into Brands, who has a 3-2 career H2H against him, though they last played in 2011. Brands is also at a career high ranking of 58 and is having his own excellent year. This should be a matchup of heavy ball strikers.

Top Half:

Janko Tipsarevic, who has had a miserable year thus far, will once again try to get it going against a qualifier. After that, he could face countryman Viktor Troicki, Bordeaux Challenger semifinalist David Goffin, Grega Zemlja or Michael Russell. Troicki made headlines with a crazy meltdown in Rome in a match against Ernest Gulbis.

Juan Monaco, who defeated Tipsarevic in the first round of Madrid but lost in the first round of Rome to eventual semifinalist Benoit Paire, will play a qualifier or Go Soeda. For the next round, expect him to meet one of Benjamin Becker/Tobias Kamke, Dmitry Tursunov/Nikolay Davydenko, this is quite a hollow section for Pico.

Bottom Half:

Phillip Kohlschreiber, who retired in the 3rd round in Rome with symptoms of vertigo, will play Igor Sijsling or a qualifier. If he is healthy, he should face Rosol/Brands or Jan Hajek/Evgeny Donskoy in a big quarterfinal matchup. Donskoy lost in the first round qualifying of Rome.

Tommy Haas, the German number one who was dropped out of the first round in Rome, will play Blaz Kavcic or the underappreciated Ivan Dodig. The winner could face Jarkko Nieminen/Lukas Lacko, or Roberto Bautista Agut/Gilles Muller. Nieminen lost Round 1 to Gulbis in Rome, while Bautista Agut has slumped a bit after issues with his wrist. Haas defeated Dodig in the Munich semis recently.

Dark Horse: Dmitry Tursunov

Tursunov still has talent left at age 30, but he is just inconsistent at this point with it. Overall, he has a 10-6 record at the ATP level this year and his ranking is back to 57. If he beats countryman Davydenko, Becker/Kamke should be easy enough and then he probably runs into Monaco. They have only met once back in ’06 and thus it would be a fresh slate. That match could shake out either way, with Monaco being a slight favorite heading in. The quarter above with Tipsarevic, Goffin and Troicki as top players is considerably weaker, so it really comes down to the quarterfinal match in regards to how far he can advance.

Predictions:

Semis:
Monaco d. Goffin
Kohlschreiber d. Haas

Monaco, if in form,should cruise to the final. Goffin did well to make the Bordeaux Challenger semis but he may be fatigued from that, probably still has enough to beat the struggling Tipsarevic. Haas beat Kohlischreiber in the Munich final, but I have a feeling that if Peppo is healthy he will get revenge this time.

Final:
Monaco d. Kohlschreiber

This final is a tossup based upon form and health, as a Haas-Monaco final would be, but I’ll just flip a coin and say Monaco wins either way, probably in 3 sets.

ATP Nice

Nice Logo

Open de Nice Cote d’Azur
ATP World Tour 250
Nice, France
May 19-May 25, 2013
Prize Money: € 410,200

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)

1: Albert Montanes*
2: Gilles Simon
3: Sam Querrey
4: John Isner

*Tomas Berdych was supposed to be the top seed in Nice but he withdrew, moving Albert Montanes into the number 1 seed line.

1st round matchups to watch:

Santiago Giraldo vs (WC) Gael Monfils

Giraldo is your average, steady but not fantastic clay courter, but what makes this match interesting is the form of Monfils. Le Monf is in the final of the Bordeaux Challenger after limping and jumping his way through injuries and rust and everything else this year. It is impossible to predict what form and health he will show up in here. He could either do really well or bomb out in the first round. It really is something to watch.

Top Half:

The alternate, Montanes, will play Albert Ramos or Victor Hanescu. Then, Ramos will likely face Marcel Granollers or Carlos Berlocq. Leo Mayer and Paul-Henri Mathieu are also options in a literally wide open section.

Sam Querrey, who has looked aloof on Red Clay thus far, will play a qualifier and then could play Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Alejandro Falla, Ricardas Berankos or Denis Istomin. Querrey has been poor on clay, but this section is one of the least troubling he could ever hope for.

Bottom Half:

Top French seed Gilles Simon will play Paolo Lorenzi or a qualifier and then could meet up with Madrid semifinalist Pablo Andujar, if Andujar can beat Lleyton Hewitt and Andreas Seppi/Yen-Hsun Lu. Seppi has been playing below his normal level as of late.

John Isner, who has also struggled this year and looked aloof on clay, will play Robin Haase or Marinko Matosevic, and odds are lose to either one. After that, it will be Monfils/Giraldo, a qualifier, or Fabio Fognini.

Dark Horse: Gael Monfils

Monfils could either lose in the first round or win the entire tournament. It is that wide open of a draw and he is that unpredictable right now. After the match with Giraldo he could play Fognini again, a difficult but winnable match. If he gets through that Robin Haase is his likely opponent, followed by Andujar, Lorenzi or countryman Simon, who he just loves to rally with.

Predictions:

Semis:
Ramos d. Roger-Vasselin
Fognini d. Andujar

The top half is open and weak but I’ll go with Ramos, and randomly go with Roger-Vasselin simply because he is ok on clay and the home player. Even a qualifier could emerge as a semifinalist in that section.

Fognini should be able to get by Monfils and Haase and Andujar is dangerous but inconsistent. I say he beats the steady but bland Simon, though.

Final:
Fognini d. Ramos

This is a difficult tournament to predict, but I’ll go with Fogna in what would be a rematch of their 2nd round Monte Carlo encounter this year.

2012 ATP Eastbourne Preview #AEGONInternational

 

2012 ATP Eastbourne Preview

By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com

ATP Eastbourne
AEGON International
ATP World Tour 250
June 17- June 23 2012
€ 455,700
 
Top 4 seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Richard Gasquet
2: Marcel Granollers
3:  Andreas Seppi*
4: Bernard Tomic
 
*Seppi will seek to defend his title in Eastbourne.
 
1st round matchups to watch:
 
Sam Querrey vs. Andy Roddick
 
Querrey, who comes off a semi final run at Queen’s Club, will take on a struggling Roddick, who is desperately trying to get his mojo back before Wimbledon. Both guys could use a good run here. 
 
Yen-Hsun Lu vs. Julien Benneteau
 
Lu, ranked just inside the top 60, comes off a surprising quarterfinal run in London where he knocked off top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic, the hard serving Ivo Karlovic and vet Igor Kunitsyn all in 3 sets. Unfortunately, he was forced to retire against Marin Cilic, but will hopefully be rested up to take on 5 seed Benneteau. 
 
Michael Llodra vs. Denis Istomin
 
Exciting serve and volleyer Llodra, a naturally adept player on grass, will take on Istomin. Istomin lost in the 2nd round at Queen’s Club to Querrey last week. 


 
Top Half:
 
Top seed Gasquet will begin his Wimbledon tune up against either James Ward or a qualifier. He could then face Spaniard Pablo Andujar or the aggressive vet Marcos Baghdatis.
 
4 seed Bernard Tomic, who retired in the 1st round against Tommy Haas in Halle this week, will face either the winner of Fabio Fognini vs Albert Ramos and then could face the big servers Roddick/Querrey or Jeremy Chardy/Qualifier. 
 
Bottom Half:
 
2 seed Marcel Granollers will actually be a likely underdog against Istomin/Llodra. The winner will face Benneteau/Lu, Ryan Harrison or a qualifier.
 
Defending champ and 3 seed Andreas Seppi will take on either Mikhail Kukukshkin or Carlos Berlocq. He would then have the unfortunate luck of getting a pretty sharp playing Philip Kohlschreiber, who comes off an upset of Nadal in Halle and is seeded 7th here. Peppo will play Go Soeda and then the Donald Young vs. Jamie Baker winner. 
 
 
Dark Horse: Philip Kohlschreiber
 
In one of the weaker fields of the year, Peppo has a good chance to shine and continue the momentum from his upset of Nadal in Halle. Later, he fell to Tommy Haas in the semis but still played well against the streaking Haas.  If he can get through Seppi, he has a very good chance to win the tournament as Tomic is struggling and Gasquet is, well, Gasquet…
 

Predictions:
 
Semis:
Gasquet d. Querrey
Kohlschreiber d. Llodra
 
Final:
Kohlschreiber d. Gasquet

Del Po defends Estoril title, Kohlschreiber takes Munich, Seppi wins 2nd career title in Belgrade

Del Po defends Estoril title, Kohlschreiber takes Munich, Seppi wins 2nd career title in Belgrade

By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com


 
ATP Estoril:
 
Juan Martin Del Potro successfully defended his title in Estoril, taking out 2 seed Richard Gasquet in the final, 6-4 6-2.
 
Del Potro cruised through his week in Estoril taking out Rui Machado, Albert Montanes and Stanislas Wawrinka in succession before finishing off Gasquet, who had beaten  Paolo Lorenzi, Daniel Munoz-De La Nava and Albert Ramos to reach the final.
 
Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands took the doubles title over Austrian Julian Knowle and Spaniard David Marrero, 7-5 7-5.
 


ATP Munich:
 
Phillip Kohlschreiber captured the 2nd Munich title of his career (the other being in 2007) taking out Marin Cilic, 7-6 6-3.  Kohlschreiber, the 4 seed and one of the home favorites, took out Ernest Gulbis, Marinko Matosevic and Feliciano Lopez, the 2 seed in 3 sets, to reach the final.
 
Cilic,  the 3 seed, who continues to improve in his comeback efforts, took out ATP Bucharest semi-finalist Matthias Bachinger, Mikhail Youzhny and surprise semi-finalist Tommy Haas. Haas brought back memories of the past in his upset of top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earlier in the week, along with a victory over Marcos Baghadatis and a 1st round drubbing of countryman Michael Berrer.
 
Top seeds Frantisek  Cermak and Filip Polasek, of the Czech Republic and Slovakia respectively, won the doubles title over Xaiver Malisse and Dick Norman of Belgium,  6-4 7-5. 
 
 

ATP Belgrade:

Andreas Seppi won his 2nd career ATP World Tour title with a 6-3 6-2 victory over surprise finalist Benoit Paire of France.  The Italian, Seppi, who was seeded 2nd,  took out Ivan Dodig, Gilles Muller and 4 seed David Nalbandian in 3 sets to reach the final.
Paire upset 6 seed and ATP Bucharest finalist Fabio Fognini in the 1st round and followed it up with 3 set victories over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 3 seed Jarkko Niemenen  and top seed Pablo Andujar  to reach the final.
 
Israeli Danger Duo Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram won the Belgrade doubles title over Martin Emmrich and Andreas Siljestrom.