2013 ATP Delray, Dubai and Acapulco Previews
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Another triple header is in order for the ATP tour this week with dual 500s in Acapulco on clay, the culmination of the golden swing, and Dubai on outdoor hard. Meanwhile, sunny Delray Beach, Florida will host an outdoor hard 250 event.
ATP Delray Beach
Delray Beach International Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 250
Delray Beach, Florida, USA
February 25-March 3, 2013
Prize money: $455,775
1: John Isner
2: Tommy Haas
3: Sam Querrey
4: Kei Nishikori
5: Alexandr Dolgopolov
6: Kevin Anderson
7: Feliciano Lopez
8: Xaiver Malisse
First round matchups to watch:
Michael Russell vs. (3) Sam Querrey
Russell at the age of 34 is playing some of the best tennis of his career all of a sudden and looked quite good en route to the quarters in Memphis after qualifying. He will face Querrey, who has been a bit up and down, losing in the 2nd round of Memphis after semis in San Jose. Sam will be the favorite as he has beaten Russell 5 times in a row but muscles Russell has a nice chance at another quality win.
(5)Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Ivan Dodig
Dolgopolov never seemed to be in great form while in Memphis, though he made the quarters and admitted he was coming off of some injury issues and still trying to get back fully with his body along with his technical play. He gets an interesting match with Dodig, who was competitive in his 3 set loss to Cilic in Memphis, plays well on hard courts, and is in decent form. Dodig will also have a good chance at an upset victory.
Igor Sijsling vs. (2)Tommy Haas
You have to feel a bit sorry for Tommy Haas. After withdrawing from Memphis because of sickness, he gets the misfortune of having to play sizzling Igor Sijsling, who packs a serious punch and looked quite strong in Memphis. Sijs won a good match over Melzer before losing a nail biter with Cilic in 3. Sijsling continues to show that he has a great multi faceted game when he puts it all together, especially on the mental side. He is primed and ready for a deep run in an ATP event. Haas did well to make the San Jose final and won his only match in Memphis, but I think even as a 2 seed he will be the underdog in this one. Haas did beat Sijsling in Auckland this year.
A seriously struggling John Isner opens with Jesse Levine and then will get the Go Soeda vs. Marinko Matosevic winner. Matosevic was a semifinalist in Memphis along with a defending finalist in Delray but retired from his semifinal match with a foot injury and his performance may well be questionable.
Defending champ Kevin Anderson comes off elbow surgery, and this is his first tournament back since the Australian Open, where he actually looked quite good before the elbow problem arose. Anderson will play a qualifier, then Yen-Hsun Lu or a qualifier. It should be a somewhat comfortable start for the South African, but you never know what kind of shape he is in. Also, the qualifying draw is very strong, with names like Berankis, Gulbis and Smyczek participating.
All in all, the first quarter of the draw is actually very weak with a bunch of players either out of form or coming off injuries.
Memphis champ Kei Nishikori will look to continue his strong play against Ivo Karlovic, then the Flavio Cipolla vs. Edouard Roger-Vasselin winner. In the quarters, Kei could get a Memphis finals rematch with Feliciano Lopez, who opens with Bjorn Phau. Lopez could get a rematch with Jack Sock in Round 2 if Sock beats Matt Ebden.
The Haas/Sijsling winner won’t have it much easier in the next round, as they will likely face Memphis semifinalist Denis Istomin, who opens with Benjamin Becker. The winner of that could get Dolgopolov/Dodig, Steve Darcis or Evgeny Donskoy.
The Querrey/Russell winner will face James Blake or a qualifier in yet another All-American matchup. After that, the winner could face a struggling Xaiver Malisse, a qualifier, a struggling Ryan Harrison, or perhaps most likely, Alejandro Falla. Falla could set up a 3rd meeting in consecutive weeks if both he and Querrey win up to the quarters. This is another pretty weak section of the draw.
Dark Horse: Igor Sijsling
Yet again, I’ll pick Sijs as my dark horse, and by now you should be aware of the reasons why. If he gets past Haas and a possibly tired Istomin things really open up, as his quarterfinal opponent probably Dodig or Donskoy isn’t as strong. In the semis, he will get yet another somewhat struggling opponent, probably still Querrey, but watch out for Blake or Russell. Sijsling should have really good chances at making the final if he keeps it together and with a weak top half of the draw, excluding Nishikori, has a great chance of winning the title.
Nishikori d. Anderson
Sijsling d. Querrey
Nishikori, even if he is a bit tired, is simply playing much better than anyone else in his section, by far. Yes, I’ll pick the guy coming off elbow surgery in the 1st section because it really is that open of a draw. I could even see a qualifier making the semis in that section, especially a guy like Berankis. Isner has a good draw yet again, but he is playing poorly right now and can’t be counted on.
Querrey should also be a heavy favorite to reach the semis but you never know..
Nishikori d. Sijsling
I could see Sijsling winning if this final comes to fruition, but I’ll have to go with the steady Nishikori as the favorite.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
February 25-March 2, 2013
Prize Money: $1,785,500
Top 8 seeds:
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Roger Federer
3: Tomas Berdych
4: Juan Martin Del Potro
5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6: Janko Tipsarevic
7: Andreas Seppi
8: Mikhail Youzhny
500 ranking points and a whole lot of prize money brings the usual star-studded field to the desert for some tennis.
First round matchups to watch:
(6)Janko Tipsarevic vs. Nikolay Davydenko
To be blunt, Tipsarevic has been terrible this month, losing opening round matches to Dmitry Tursunov and Michael Llodra, a couple players ranked well below him, in consecutive weeks. Now he gets the still talented, but also very streaky and inconsistent Nikolay Davydenko, who he has a split head to head with 2-2 though they last played in 2011. Given how poor Tipsy has looked, Davy has a good shot a win.
Three time Dubai champion Djokovic returns from his post AO hiatus (excluding the Davis Cup tie he played) against DC teammate Viktor Troicki, then will face Roberto Bautista-Agut or David Goffin in the quarters. He could get the Andreas Seppi/Paul Henri Mathieu winner, Lukas Rosol or qualifier Matteo Viola. Seppi has never won a match in Dubai.
Rotterdam champion and Marseille quarterfinalist Juan Martin Del Potro will look to continue his success outdoors against Marcos Baghdatis, who can still be dangerous at times. After that, he will play Somdev Devvarman or qualifier Igor Kunitsyn in the quarters. He could face the winner of Mikhail Youzhny/Blaz Kavcic or one of the two qualifiers in this section, Daniel Brands and Florent Serra. This is a tailor-made draw for Del Po and he shouldn’t slip up.
Five time Dubai champion and defending champion Federer will play wild card Malek Jaziri, who can produce some tremendous tennis at times but has otherwise been a challenger level player. After that, he should face an ice cold Marcel Granollers or dirtballer Albert Montanes. In the quarters, Fed could get the Tipsarevic/Davydenko winner or most likely Marseille quarterfinalist Bernard Tomic in what would be an AO rematch. Yet again, this is an easy draw for Fed.
Marseille finalist Tomas Berdych will face wild card Rajeev Ram, then either Tobias Kamke or Mikhail Kukushkin. In the quarters, T Berd could get a Marseille finals rematch with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who opens with Michael Llodra. Other less likely options are Jan Hajek, or the man he beat in the Marseille semis, Dmitry Tursunov, who gets a wild card after his surprising play in Marseille.
Dark Horse: Marcos Baghdatis
In a top-heavy field, there aren’t very many dark horses who are good for much more than the quarters (Tomic and Mathieu, for example). If I had to pick a top seed to fall, it may as well be Del Potro, mainly because he has played a lot of tennis these past couple of weeks and he still doesn’t seem to be fully on his game (losing to Gilles Simon, for example). Baghdatis has had good results before and has been on and off this year, including semis in Brisbane and quarters in Rotterdam. He should be well rested and could leave a mark on the field.
Djokovic d. Del Potro
Federer d. Berdych
Djoker should beat Seppi or Mathieu to set this one up, Fed should roll, and Berdych should get revenge on Tsonga.
Djokovic d. Federer
It is pretty clear Djokovic is the better player right now, especially on hard courts, and I have no reason to think he won’t win this one.
Abierto Mexicano Telcel
ATP World Tour 500
February 25-March 3, 2013
Prize Money: $1,212,750
The Acapulco field was weakened by the withdraws of Fernando Verdasco, Jeremy Chardy and Juan Monaco. Security issues around the venue related to the violence going on in the area further hampers this event. The event continues nonetheless and it is worth 500 points.
Top 8 seeds
1: David Ferrer
2: Rafael Nadal
3: Nicolas Almagro
4: Stanislas Wawrinka
5: Jurgen Melzer
6: Thomaz Bellucci
7: Benoit Paire
8: Horacio Zeballos
1st round matchups to watch:
Paolo Lorenzi vs. (7)Benoit Paire
Paolo Lorenzi comes off a 1st round loss in Buenos Aires, but is at a career high ranking of 56 at the age of 31 and is far and above a better player on clay than any other surface. He gets an intriguing match with Paire, who in addition to coming off a 1st round loss in Marseille, has been playing indoor hard courts in Europe all month and will be playing his first tournament on clay this year Though Paire is normally the better player, this match is ripe for an upset.
Aljaz Bedene vs. David Nalbandian
Bedene had a nice win over Horacio Zeballos in Buenos Aires, but then lost to Julian Reister in a bit of a surprise. He will look to recoup against Nalby, who beat Carlos Berlocq solidly before losing to eventual champ David Ferrer. This is an interesting match and Nalbandian will have a slight edge.
(8)Horacio Zeballos vs. Simone Bolelli
Zeballos comes off a 1st round loss but still has had a good golden swing. He should be the favorite against Bolelli, who also comes off a 1st round loss in Buenos Aires after some good prior results. This is a match between a couple of solid enough dirtballers and if you like clay court tennis, is worth a look.
Buenos Aires champ and defending Acapulco champ David Ferrer opens with countryman Albert Ramos, then will get Lukasz Kubot or a qualifier. In the quarters, Ferrer could get Paire/Lorenzi, a qualifier or Pablo Andujar.
His opponent in that final, Stan Wawrinka, will play Fabio Fognini, a Buenos Aires quarterfinalist, then the Bedene/Nalbandian winner, both of which could trip him up early. 5 seed Jurgen Melzer will adjust to clay against Joao Sousa and then the winner of Santiago Giraldo vs. Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. Melzer is close to dropping out of the top 50 and could use some wins here.
Rafa Nadal took a week off in Cozumel and comes back to an easy draw, opening with a qualifier then playing Mexican wild card Daniel Garza or a qualifier. In the quarters, he could get a slumping Thomaz Bellucci, who opens with Andrey Kuznetsov, Leonardo Mayer or another Mexican wild card Miguel Angel Reyes.
Buenos Aires semifinalist and 2 time Acapulco champ Nicolas Almagro will play Mexican wild card Cesar Ramirez before taking on Buenos Aires semifinalist Tommy Robredo or Filippo Volandri. In the quarters, Almagro could get Bolelli/Zeballos, Carlos Berlocq or Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Dark Horse: David Nalbandian
For Nalby, his final showing in Sao Paulo showed he still had something left in the tank and he wasn’t just going to let his career fade away. He has a decent chance of success in Acapulco if he gets past Bedene, and Wawrinka is still suffering a bit of a hangover from his tough loss in the Buenos Aires final. If he gets through that, the semis would almost be a sure thing as Melzer or someone else probably doesn’t pose much of a threat.
Nadal d. Almagro
Ferrer will be a heavy favorite to beat Wawrinka again, and Nadal has such an easy draw, he could yet again make the semis even if he isn’t near top level.
Ferrer d. Nadal
This would be the Spanish 1 vs 2 showdown on clay, with a lot on the line in terms of bragging rights and otherwise. Nadal obviously has owned Ferrer in the past (16-4 h2h and only one loss on clay, back in 2004), but he still isn’t near the level he was at when he won those matches and Ferrer looked good in Buenos Aires. Ferrer will also be trying to defend his title points. Though this should be a gutsy match, I have to give a slight edge to Ferrer just this one time.