2014 ATP Newport (@TennisHalloFame) Preview, Predictions
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Hall of Fame Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 250
Newport, Rhode Island, USA
July 7-July 13, 2014
Prize Money: $474,005
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: John Isner (11)
2: Ivo Karlovic (32)
3: Lleyton Hewitt (48)
4: Nicolas Mahut (54)
First Round matchups to watch:
Rajeev Ram. Newport
Matt Ebden vs. Rajeev Ram
Ebden, who has had success on grass, is struggling and he could use a win against 2009 Newport champ Ram to help him find his form. They have met 3 times before, all on hard courts, and Ebden leads the h2h 2-1. In my opinion, Ram, who failed to qualify at Wimbledon, is a slight favorite here.
Hewitt in Newport
(3)Lleyton Hewitt vs. Ryan Harrison
Harrison beat Hewitt in DC last year, and the consecutive defending finalist Hewitt has really been struggling this season. Even on his favored grass, he is just 2-2 on the surface this year and lost to Jerzy Janowicz in Wimbledon round 2.
Harrison has been recently decent, as he qualified for Wimbledon before losing to eventual semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov in round 1.
Both players have struggled to maintain a high level of play recently and their skills come and go, though Harrison is much younger and healthier than Hewitt. This match is a toss-up to me, but I’ll give Hewitt a slight edge, considering experience and past history.
Two time champ John Isner should cruise his way to the quarterfinals after beating a qualifier and Tim Smyczek or a qualifier. Isner fell in Wimbledon round 3 but competition is less daunting in Newport, and a quarterfinal meeting against most likely Ebden/Ram or perhaps Wimbledon doubles champ Jack Sock (after a transatlantic flight will face Alex Kuznetsov), likely would not be competitive.
Hewitt/Harrison are slated to face Marius Copil or a qualifier, and the winner of that round 1 meeting is likely to make the quarterfinals against the improving Steve Johnson, who faces wild card Clay Thompson of UCLA in round 1 in a battle between the LA schools (Johnson played at USC) and then wild card Mitch Krueger or Tatsuma Ito.
With so many Americans in the draw, I expect the quarterfinal between Johnson and Harrison/Hewitt to be epic.
Ivo Karlovic is struggling, having lost 3 straight. He opens with wild card Robby Ginepri and then Sergiy Stakhovsky or Farrukh Dustov. If Stako can find form, I favor him to make the quarters against Adrian Mannarino, a grass court specialist. He is struggling and faces another good grass player, Jimmy Wang, in round 1, and then Dudi Sela/Michal Przysiezny.
Mannarino just won a challenger and Stako made the Wimbledon third round, so the semifinalist here should be strong.
Defending champ Nicolas Mahut, who hasn’t had nearly as strong of a grass court campaign this year compared to last, and lost in round 1 of Wimbledon, faces Facundo Arguello, a clay courter, in round 1. After that, he would see Peter Polansky or a qualifier. Mahut should be tested in the quarters against one of Donald Young/Sam Groth/Ricardas Berankis/Malek Jaziri. All of these players have some aptitude on grass and if they get hot, especially Groth with his massive serve, could surprise. Young is not as good on grass and Groth/Jaziri should decide the quarter.
Dark Horse: Sergiy Stakhovsky
Many players are dark horses this week. Given such a wide open field, Stakhovsky gets the official designation as I have him in the final. If his serve and volley game is on. he should excel this week against all possible opponents before the final.
Isner d. Johnson
Stakhovsky d. Mahut
Isner and Johnson have never met, and I do favor the vastly improved Johnson over Hewitt/Harrison in the quarters, but Isner should have too big of a game for Steve in the semis.
Johnson has worked on his mentality, his footwork and other parts of his game, and can compete at the ATP level now, but Isner will be too much. I favor Stako over Mahut based upon current form.
Isner d. Stakhovsky
Isner and Stako have a split h2h, but Isner won the fast surface meeting in ’09, and on grass, fortune seems to favor the much higher ranked Isner. Big John always plays his best on US soil. Look for him to notch his second ATP title of the season this week.
—Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast