2013 ATP Rome Preview
The final Masters before Roland Garros fired up today but my Editor couldn’t get his act together in time.
Internazionali BNL D’Italia
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
May 12-May 19, 2013
Prize Money: €2,646,495
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Roger Federer
3: Andy Murray
4: David Ferrer
5: Rafael Nadal
6: Tomas Berdych
7: Juan Martin Del Potro
8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
First round matchups to watch:
Phillip Kohlschreiber vs. (14)Milos Raonic
Kohlschreiber is back in action this week after a week off and he will take on the dangerous but still inconsistent Raonic, who followed up semis in Barcelona with a 2nd round loss in Madrid. They have met just once: this year at the Australian Open where Raonic prevailed, but that was on hard courts. Peppo will have a good upset chance here on clay.
Fabio Fognini vs. Andreas Seppi
Both Fognini and Seppi are coming off bad first round losses in Madrid and this will be a rematch of their match in Monte Carlo, which was won be Fognini. They are the top two Italian players and are playing at home in Rome, so expect an electric atmosphere and some great clay court tennis.
Juan Monaco vs. Benoit Paire
Monaco and Paire have never met and both come off 2nd round losses in Madrid (to Anderson and Nadal respectively). They both have serious talent on clay but at times their game can disappear and their chances with it. Expect a close match and some fireworks.
(WC)Paolo Lorenzi vs. (16) Kei Nisihkori
Nishikori and Lorenzi have also never met, but Nishikori should be buoyed by his upset of Roger Federer and his run to the quarterfinals in Madrid. He has a lot of talent and can be a top 10 player soon enough if he can simply stay healthy. The veteran Lorenzi will be at home in Italy and is steady on clay, thus this has to be a bit of an upset alert.
Novak Djokovic was shocked by Grigor Dimitrov in Madrid, and really played quite poorly in that match. Dimitrov was good, but he was not at his all. As a defending finalist in Rome, he will look to recover against Martin Klizan or a qualifier. Then he could meet the sizzling Stanislas Wawrinka, who won Estoril and in Madrid runner-up. Wawa will need to get past a qualifier, then Alexandr Dolgopolov or Matteo Viola. If he is fatigued from playing so much tennis as of late, Dolgo could at least give him a test.
Madrid semifinalist Tomas Berdych will open against John Isner or Denis Istomin, then could get a rematch against Kevin Anderson, who he just beat in Madrid in 2 tight sets. Anderson just needs to get through Jurgen Melzer and Marin Cilic or a qualifier.
Madrid quarterfinalist David Ferrer will play Fernando Verdasco, who improved his form in Madrid, or Horacio Zeballos. Then he could meet Kohlschreiber/Raonic, a qualifier or Albert Ramos.
Madrid champion and 6 time Rome champion Rafael Nadal will look to continue dominating on clay against the Fognini/Seppi winner and then Jarkko Nieminen, a qualifier, Janko Tipsarevic or Viktor Troicki. None of them seem threatening in the slightest.
Roger Federer was shaky in a loss to Kei Nishikori in Madrid, and just seems shaky in general. He lost the number 2 ranking to Murray for now, and he really needs to start earning some points given the shortened schedule he is playing. Federer could play Radek Stepanek in a rematch of Madrid R2, or Potito Starace, who was formerly a solid enough ATP pro but has fallen off a cliff rankings-wise. After that Federer could be troubled by Tommy Haas, if Haas can beat Mikhail Youzhny and Gilles Simon/Filippo Volandri. Simon/Haas Round 2 would be a huge match.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a Madrid quarterfinalist, will play Jerzy Janowicz or a qualifier. After that, he’s looking at Richard Gasquet, who was shocked in the opening round of Madrid, Sam Querrey or Marcos Baghdatis/Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov lost to Wawrinka after shocking Djokovic, but still showed a lot of heart and talent in that one. He and Baghdatis played a great semifinal match in Brisbane this year on hard courts, won by Dimitrov in 3 sets, but Baghdatis is way out of form right now.
The new ATP number 2, Andy Murray, will take on Marcel Granollers/Nikolay Davydenko. He should then meet Nishikori/Lorenzi, while Jeremy Chardy and Feliciano Lopez are also options.Murray has consistently been shaky at best on clay this year, and Nishikori could cause him problems.
Juan Martin Del Potro has recovered from a virus that kept him out of Estoril and Madrid. Del Po will play a qualifier or Xaiver Malisse, then Paire/Monaco or Nicolas Almagro/Julien Benneteau. This is a brutal section of the draw.
Dark Horse: Tommy Haas
Haas was playing well in Madrid this week, though he fell in 3 sets to Ferrer, and in general he is fit, in form, and playing well on clay this year. If he can beat the mercurial Youzhny and then likely Simon, he would almost have to be the favorite against a shaky Federer. After that he should play Tsonga/Dimitrov/Gasquet, all of which are winnable, even if he is an underdog in them. In the semis, Monaco/Del Potro/Nishikori/Murray/Almagro/Paire are all reasonable opponents in a tough section. I have Haas as a finalist this week.
Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Anderson d. Berdych
Ferrer d. Kohlschreiber
Nadal d. Nieminen
Monaco d. Del Potro
Nishikori d. Murray
Tsonga d. Dimitrov
Haas d. Federer
Djoker should be fresher than Wawa, if nothing else. Anderson should be fresher than Berdych, who suffered a late collapse in his Madrid semi. Ferrer could lose to Kohlschreiber, but he would have to the favorite. Nadal should cruise, Monaco should best his countryman, Nishikori/Murray will be tight but an edge to the man from Japan. Tsonga/Dimitrov should also be close, and as mentioned, Haas should beat fellow veteran Federer.
Djokovic d. Anderson
Nadal d. Ferrer
Monaco d. Nishikori
Haas d. Tsonga
Djokovic is a favorite against Anderson. Nadal dropped a set to Ferrer, but then bageled him in the 3rd set, as the two Spaniards seem locked in a track against each other. Monaco is better on clay than Nishikori, and Haas-Tsonga should be a slugfest.
Nadal d. Djokovic
Haas d. Monaco
Nadal is better than Djokovic right now if he isn’t fatigued. Monaco has a better h2h against Haas (4-1), but they only met once in recent history (2012 on clay in Hamburg won by Monaco), and that doesn’t account for Haas current form.
Nadal d. Haas
2013 ATP Houston and Casablanca Previews
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The ATP clay season fires up with a pair of 250s: one in Houston, Texas, and the other in Casablanca, Morocco. Quite a difference in scenery this week between the two, but there’s similar field quality. On a side note, this week is the one year anniversary of my first postings at TEC. It has been a pleasure and I plan to continue for a long time to come.
US Men’s Clay Court Championships
ATP World Tour 250
April 8-April 14, 2013
Prize Money: $455,775
Top 4 seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Nicolas Almagro
2: Tommy Haas
3: Juan Monaco
4: Sam Querrey
Houston seems to have a stronger field on paper than previous years, though the form of the players does make a huge difference.
First round matchups to watch:
Gael Monfils vs. James Blake
Monfils has dropped out of the top 100 and has not played a tournament since February. He is also on a three match losing streak, but now as the season turns to clay he hopes to be fit and really needs to rack up some points on the dirt. Blake is the veteran who has experienced a bit of a career resurgence, back in the top 100 and making the 3rd round in Miami.
With all that on the line, Monfils should still be the favorite simply because Blake is not a clay courter but Le Monf is terribly unpredictable right now. They have a split h2h (2-2) but last met in 2010 and also split on clay with Blake winning the last meeting in 2007 and Monfils winning a 5 setter at the French Open in 2006.
(wc) Rhyne Williams vs. Guido Pella
This is a matchup that we could be seeing for years to come as a pair of 22-year-old talents will have their first meeting. Pella, the Argentine, is excellent on the clay and is looking to get into the top 100 with a good showing here. He only has a 2-6 record this year but last year he tore up the Challenger circuit clay court events while Williams is 1-3 at the ATP level but is splitting his time with challengers.
American players have had success in Houston in the past such as Ryan Sweeting and John Isner. Williams will have home nation support, but Pella is better on the surface and will likely be the favorite.
(wc) Steve Johnson vs. (6) Fernando Verdasco
Another American looking for a good showing is Steve Johnson, at a career high ranking of 130. Johnson is not known for his clay court prowess. But he also gets the home nation fans in his corner and he gets a seriously struggling Fernando Verdasco, who has been beset with injury issues this year and is on a 4 match losing streak. Verdasco is the better player in general and the better player on the surface, but not right now. This match should be on upset alert.
(5) John Isner vs. Ryan Harrison
Isner is a defending finalist in Houston and is off playing Davis Cup in Boise this weekend where he continues to struggle, but he will face one of the players who is struggling more than him. Ryan Harrison is just 1-5 in his last 6 matches and is in danger of dropping out of the top 100. When a couple of Americans in a funk meet, at least one of them has to win and the result should be interesting either way. Harrison beat Isner back in Sydney this year but that was on a different surface and Isner was struggling with some injury issues.
Nico Almagro will face the Blake/Monfils winner, a match he should advance from, and in the quarters could face a pair of qualifiers or a pair of Italians, Flavio Cipolla or Paolo Lorenzi. Lorenzi’s the most likely opponent in what could be a competitive match.
Sam Querrey, also coming off DC duty, will face the Williams/Pella winner and if he does face Pella he could have some trouble. The winner could face Verdasco/Johnson, Somdev Devvarman or Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in the quarters.
Hot stuff Tommy Haas will look to continue his excellent form onto clay and will face Ricardas Berankis or Jesse Levine. On a note about how fortunes can so quickly change, Haas played the qualifying in Houston last year (ranked 137/did not qualify) and now he is the number 2 seed and in the top 15.
In the quarters, Haas could face Isner/Harrison, a qualifier, or Jack Sock. Given that Haas has American citizenship, this quarter is teeming with Americans.
Juan Monaco is playing DC for Argentina and actually managed to win a match, snapping his losing streak. Unfortuantely, he still hasn’t won an ATP tournament match this year) will face Josselin Ouanna or Tim Smyczek and the winner could face the seeded Michael Russell, who lives in Houston, a qualifier, Martin Alund or Lleyton Hewitt. Ouanna, formerly considered a French up and comer, has not done anything special this year while Alund notably made the semis in Sao Paulo and had a solid Golden Swing in South America.
Dark Horses: Martin Alund and Guido Pella
Though this is a small tournament I went two dark horses because both Alund and Pella have excellent chances to go deep in Houston. Alund should beat Hewitt and get past Russell and then he could face Smyczek/Ouanna or Monaco, none of whom are playing that well right now, his run likely ends in the semis though.
Pella may upset Querrey after beating Williams and if he does the rest of the section is not spectacular either with Verdasco/Johnson/Devvarman/RRH all possible opponents still his run also likely ends in the semis.
Almagro d. Pella
Haas d. Alund
Almagro will likely only be troubled by Lorenzi and he also beat Pella in Buenos Aires this year, while Haas should be able to make the semis without issue.
Haas d. Almagro
From qualifying last year to champion this year—that is how I have it for Tommy Haas. He is 3-0 against Almagro and just beat him in Indian Wells.
Tommy Haas, James Blake Added to Loaded
LA Tennis Challenge Field on March 4
Justin Gimelstob and Mardy Fish-Hosted Exhibition at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion
Will Feature World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras and Bryan Brothers
Westwood, Calif., (Feb. 20, 2013) – It would be unfair to say that Tommy Haas’ best tennis is still ahead of him, but there’s no denying the fact that the 34-year-old ATP World Tour veteran is still managing to play some of the best tennis of his career having reached the final of last week’s SAP Open in San Jose.
The current world-ranked No. 18-player Haas and former world-ranked No. 4 James Blake have been added to the already stacked lineup card for the inaugural Los Angeles Tennis Challenge featuring World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Mardy Fish, Pete Sampras and Bob and Mike Bryan to be played March 4 at newly renovated Pauley Pavilion.
On Sunday, the former world No. 2 and Olympics silver medalist Haas was beaten by Canadian Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-3. “I have always loved playing in L.A. and have had some of my best results there winning the LA Open in 2004 and 2006,” Haas said. “It is sad that the LA ATP event is leaving but I am ecstatic that the LA Tennis Challenge can help showcase professional tennis in one of the most important markets in the world.”
The LA Tennis Challenge is being promoted by Tennis Channel broadcaster Justin Gimelstob and ATP World Tour star Mardy Fish. Sponsors include Audi, Esurance, K-Swiss, 10sBalls.com and the Los Angeles Daily News.
Middle-level general admission tickets and reserved seating are now available starting at $35 and can be purchased at http://www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310-825-2101 Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by calling the event directly at 310-824-1010, ext. 251.
“Tommy and James are two of the most talented tennis players of this generation,” Gimelstob said. “Their shot-making and variety will surely entertain the fans at Pauley Pavilion on March 4th. We feel adding Tommy and James will complement an already exceptional field.
“The buzz is certainly building for the first LA Tennis Challenge, and we are confident this is shaping up to be a premiere event on both the sports and social calendar in the years to come.”
Haas has won one singles title since 2009, beating Roger Federer in Halle last year. Blake is a former world-ranked No. 4.
“I’m excited to join the already incredible field at the LA Tennis Challenge,” Blake said. “I’ve been spending a lot more time in LA, and as an American tennis player the loss of the ATP World Tour event is a huge disappointment. We need to start building a new event in Los Angeles and the LA Tennis Challenge is a positive step in that direction. This is a tremendous opportunity to watch some competitive and entertaining tennis, while raising some important funds for great causes. I am really looking forward to both being there and to participating.”
Added Haas: “Justin Gimelstob and Mardy Fish are two of my best friends, and when they asked me to support the event I jumped at the opportunity to help raise money for their foundations. In addition, being able to compete and get some intense match practice against one of my friends and rivals, James Blake, leading into one of my favorite events, the BNP Paribas Open, is ideal.
Three exhibition pro-set matches will take place beginning at 7 p.m. Haas will face Blake in the opening singles match while Djokovic will take on Los Angeles resident Fish in singles followed by a doubles match pitting Djokovic and his childhood idol Sampras against Southern California natives Bob and Mike Bryan.
“The field for a first-year event is incredible,” Haas concluded. “With guys like Djokovic and Sampras and the Bryan Brothers, and now adding James and me, we will make Pauley Pavilion the place to be the night of March 4th. I can’t wait to be there.”
It has also been announced that longtime and respected Southern California Tennis Association Executive Director Henry Talbert will be honored March 4 with the Gussy Moran Humanitarian Award that has been named for the 2007 SCTA Hall of Fame inductee who recently passed away.
The LA Tennis Challenge will be broadcast by Tennis Channel in the United States.
To learn more about the LA Tennis Challenge go to http://www.LATennisChallenge.com. Like the event on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LATennisChallenge and follow on Twitter at @LA10sChallenge. For more information you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2012 ATP Halle and Queen’s Club Recap
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Tommy Haas continued his shocking run of stellar play, taking the Halle title today over fellow veteran Roger Federer, 7-6 6-4. The world number 87, who recently broke back in the top 100 at the age of 34, rolled over Bernard Tomic, Tomas Berdych in 3 sets and countryman Philip Kohlschreiber (who had shocked Nadal in his previous round match to reach the final) before taking it to Federer.
Haas showed more than glimpses of his former top 10 self: beating players much his junior and showing not only grit but also great skill on the grass, just as he had shown on clay in Paris and Munich.
Federer will go home disappointed but he still beat Florian Mayer, survived in 3 sets over big bomber Milos Raonic (who couldn’t close him out) and shellacked Mikhail Youzhny to reach yet another final on grass.
Aisam Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer won the doubles title over Treat Huey and Scott Lipsky.
ATP London Queen’s Club
Yet another aggressive David Nalbandian outburst gave Marin Cilic the title in the AEGON Championships, even though he was down 6-7 4-3. The incident occurred when Nalbandian kicked an advertising board in rage around a lines judge and accidentally injured him in the process, causing the linesman’s leg to bleed profusely.
It not only made quite the mess but also resulted in Nalby being DQ’ed and Cilic taking the title to the shock of fans who proceeded to boo profusely all the way through the trophy ceremony. This is not the first time this year Nalbandian has suffered from a violent outburst, as he was fined $8,000 for throwing water at another tournament official during his first round match at the Australian Open. It was an unfortunate incident any way you look at it.
As for the rest of the tournament, it was a week of upsets as top 3 seeds Murray, Tsonga and Tipsarevic all fell before the quarterfinals to much lower ranked players. Nalbandian came from a set down to beat Vasek Pospisil, handled Ruben Bemelmans, came back from a set down to beat both Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Xaiver Malisse, and then rolled over refreshing youngster Grigor Dimitrov to reach the final.
Dimitrov punched above his weight this week as well, as he beat Bobby Reynolds, Nicolas Mahut (who upset Andy Murray in the previous round) and came from a set down to beat the big serving Kevin Anderson.
6 seed Cilic took care of Matt Ebden, Lukas Rosol, Yen Hsun-Lu (who beat Tipsy Tipsarevic in the previous round) and suprising Sam Querrey to reach the final. Querrey had beaten seeded players Julien Benneteau and Denis Istomin along with (Tsonga-eliminator) Ivan Dodig and Olivier Rochus.
The event was also marred by a lot of rain, as can be expected during the British summer and a lot of the match schedules became convoluted. Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor beat the Bryans for the 2nd week in a row to take the doubles title.