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ATP Picks: Hamburg, Bogota

We’re back to Germany and Colombia on the clay this week!

bet-at-home Open - German Tennis Championships 2012German Tennis Championships

This big clay event with the worst sponsor name is a nice stop for the players, staged in the handsome city of Hamburg.

German participation is surprisingly minimal this year. Phillip Kohlshcreiber spearheads them while Peter Gojowczyk gets a wildcard. Jan Struff makes up the numbers. Speaking of wildcards, Alex Dolgopolov and Fabio Fognini have been frustratingly inconsistent but both have the game to win the tournament. We shall watch them with interest.

bet-at-home Open - German Tennis Championships, Hamburg, Germany

bet-at-home Open – German Tennis Championships, Hamburg, Germany

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 500

Surface: Clay

Defending Champion: 
Fabio Fognini leads the field in Hamburg as he looks to retain the title he won last year with victory over Federico Delbonis. Iffy form of late however.

Nasty Floater: Martin Klizan - Coming back into form with an 18-7 record this year.

Up and Coming: Dominic Thiem – The 20 year old could cause some trouble but surrounded by clay court demons in the draw.

Slumping: Jerzy Janowicz – Can’t win a match right now. Time for a new coach perhaps?

On Fire: Roberto Bautista Agut – Having a career season so far; ranked 23 with a 28-15 record this year aad 1 title.

My pick: Philipp Kohlschreiber – Loves to play and win in Germay and should win his second ATP World Tour title of the season on home soil, following victory on clay in Dusseldorf (d. Karlovic).

Did You Know? The Rothenbaum Tennis Center, which features a retractable roof stadium seating 13,200 spectators – making it the largest centre court in Germany.

Claro Open Colombia

We return to Bogota for this tournaments 2nd edition. The country is on a high these days with success in soccer and a booming tourist industry. For its tennis players, Alejandro Falla came close last year to winning his home tournament and will hope to go one better. the tough left hanger has a chance. His fellow lefty countryman  - Alejandro Gonzalez – is ranked 72 and comes in with a 6-14 record hoping to put on a good showing.

Quite a wide open field with Richard Gasquet the top seed and favorite but still seeking his first win of the season after 2 runner-up finishes this year.

Centro de Alto Rendimiento in Bogotá

Centro de Alto Rendimiento in Bogotá

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Indoor Hard

Defending Champion: 
Ivo Karlovic – Won the inaugural edition and has enjoyed a good season so far. Making the transition from grass could be tricky however.

Nasty Floater:
Samuel Groth – Had a breakthrough week in Newport but can he make the transition to clay in time?

Up and Coming: Vasek Pospisil – made his breakthrough in Bogota last year, reaching the semi-finals (l. to Falla) before going on to reach the Montreal semi-finals the following month

Slumping: Bernard Tomic – He’s running out of time to be considered dangerous with his results.

On Fire: Ivo Karlovic – The serve is not slowing down at 35 years old and could scorch through the draw.

My pick: Richard Gasquet – He has more class than the rest of the field if he can serve well.

Did You Know? The Claro Open Colombia will be staged at the Centro de Alto Rendimiento in Bogotá, the same venue that hosted an ATP World Tour event from 1997–2002.

Thanks for reading and check back next week for more picks!

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ATP Picks: Halle and Queens

Gerry Weber Open

Gerry Weber OpenThe Gerry Weber Open is one of five grass court events on the ATP World Tour calendar, and gives players their first chance to play on the surface in the lead-up to Wimbledon.

Previous German winners include Tommy Haas (2009 & 2012) and Philipp Kohlschreiber (2011). Kohlschreiber is a top 10 player trapped inside a top 20 player. He can challenge the best on his day and owns one of the sweetest backhands on tour. Adopted German, Dustin Brown, is a crowd pleaser and could volley himself into the later rounds. Let’s hope so.

there have been six different players to complete the Queen's Club-Wimbledon title double in the same year, including John McEnroe (81, 84), Jimmy Connors (82), Boris Becker (85), Pete Sampras (95, 99), Lleyton Hewitt (2002) and Rafael Nadal (2008).

Lasst es brechen!

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Grass

Defending Champion: Roger Federer – Won his sixth title here in 2013 and must be chomping at the bit to swap the clay for the turf.

Nasty Floater: Dustin ‘Hash’ Brown – One of the most entertaining player on tour and faces Rafa in round 2! 

Young bloods: Milos ‘The Rocket’ Raonic – Could be devastating on grass with that serve.

Slumping: Mikhail ‘The Colonel’ Youzhny – The mad Russian like grass but gets Karlovic in round 1. 

On Fire: Rafa Nadal – Can he make the quick transition to the grass however?

My pick: Milos Raonic – If he clicks on serve, he will be tough to break

Did You Know? There have been five German winners since the inaugural event in 1993: Michael Stich (1994), Nicolas Kiefer (1999), David Prinosil (2000), Tommy Haas (2009) and Philipp Kohlschreiber (2011).

Watch: Halle Uncovered

Aegon Championships

AEGON Championships I love the smell of fresh cut grass in the morning! The oh-so-short grass season kicks off on the venerated courts of Queen’s Club. Plenty of British interest notwithstanding Andy Murray, with James Ward, Dan Cox and Dan Evans all looking to shine in the British sun.

Good to see Marcos Baghdatis in the draw as a wildcard who has had a rough go of it this year but had a nice result on the Challenger circuit last week with his first win in 4 years.

Queen's Club Tennis Tournament

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Grass

Defending Champion: Andy Murray – Enlisted Amelie Mauresmo as coach during the grass court season. Looking in good shape to defend here.

Nasty Floater: Lleyton Hewitt – The 4 time champion at Queens is a grass court legend and not done yet.

Young Blood: Bernard ‘Atomic’ Tomic – Has the tools to perform well on grass. Does he have the head?

Slumping: Sam Querry – Will a change of surface help the Samurai’s form? 

On Fire: Ernests ‘Lights Out’ Gulbis – Semi finalist at Roland Garros and newly minted in the top 10. Trouble for all.

My pick: Andy Murray – Knows how to win on grass at home but will have to fight for it.

Did You Know? In 2013, Andy Murray became the first three-time British champion since Francis Gordon Lowe (1913-14, ’25).

Thanks for reading and check back next week for more tips!

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ATP Picks: The French Open

Roland Garros

Roland Garros

This year’s French Open comes with a twist. Rafa Nadal may not be the favorite. I’ll say it again. Rafa Nadal may not be the favorite. Novak Djokovic will be making his 10th appearance at Roland Garros (36-9 record) and he’s looking to complete a career Grand Slam and the number 1 ranking is on the line. Nadal is looking to tie Sampras on 14 Grand Slams, lest we forget that stat. Could we up the ante any more?

So what else is happening? Roger Federer after a too-soon-back loss to Chardy in Rome gets a nice draw to start in his record 58th consecutive Grand Slam – no sets of twins will stop him playing! The old guard look vulnerable – Murray, Ferrer, Berdych. They will need to be on their game to fend of the snapping pups climbing the rankings. The pick of those this year have been Nishikori, Gulbis, Dimitrov, Raonic and Delbonis. Don’t forget Richard Gasquet who has Roland Garros legend Sergi Bruguera in his corner.

Marin Cilic brings a 28-10 record this year and could be dangerous and Fabio Fognini has a 19-7 record on clay this year. Both could go deep.

 

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Image Source: Wiki Commons

Regardons les choses en briser:

Level: ITF Grand Slam

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion: Rafael Nadal – Shoots for an unprecedented 9 titles but has Djokovic breathing down his neck. A 59-1 event record still makes him boss.

Nasty Floater: Santiago Giraldo – Can hit most players off the court if he’s firing and outside chance of knocking off Ferrer.

Youngblood: Federico Delbonis – Fast rising Argentine is one to watch.

Slumping: Jo ‘Big Willy’ Tsonga – Not looking the threat he usually is. France needs him to step up.

On Fire: Ernests ‘Lights Out’ Gulbis – Seems able to beat most anyone in the top 10. Finally seeded with a decent draw. 

My pick: Novak Djokovic – Has the mental edge to crack Nadal and the French. Will need coach Becker’s wisdom.  

Did You Know? In 2013, Nadal became the first man in tennis history to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam championship.

Thanks for reading and check back next time for more picks!