ATP Picks: Newport, Stuttgart, Båstad, Umag

It’s a blitzkrieg of tournaments post-Wimbledon starting with…

Newport, RINewport

The Grass ‘season’ continues into it’s 4th straight week! A real gem this tournament is, which is held alongside the Hall of Fame inductions. This year’s induction is the well-deserved Guga Kuerten.

It’s the last opportunity to get some grass court practice in before the players (some of them) head back to SW19 for the Olympics. Perhaps as a consequence, the draw is more heavyweight than previous years, with Isner, Raonic, Querry & Nishikori leading the charge. Entertaining wildcards include Jack Sock, Lleyton Hewitt and Ryan Harrison.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Grass

Defending Champion:
‘Long’ John Isner  – Looking to erase his early Wimbledon loss.

Nasty Floater: Sam Querry – Decent draw should see him make the semi-finals.

Veteran Watch:
 Lleyton Hewitt Yet another wildcard for Rusty; let’s hope he can use it well this time.

Up and Coming: Jack Sock – One of the best names in tennis and highly touted.

Slumping: Alex ‘Back in the USSR’ Bogomolov – After a great year last year, he can’t win a match.

On Fire: Denis ‘The Menace’ Istomin – A good run at Wimbledon, his game is suited to grass.

My pick: Milos ‘Baby Face’ Raonic – He’s a future Wimbledon winner, so let’s begin in Newport.

Did You Know? Newport, RI is still the only US grass court event, so please stay off the grass and clean up after your dog.

Watch: Newport Uncovered

MercedesCupStuttgart

Back to the clay for the rest of the Euro-clay season.

A patchwork draw of clay courters and hard court specialists, it could throw up some surprises but anchored at the top and bottom are Tipsarevic and Monaco, who will be tough to usurp.

The winner of this event also drives a Mercedes home, so added incentive for the players.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion: 
Juan Carlos Ferrero – Skips this event and is playing in Croatia instead. Better food apparently.

Nasty Floater:
Tomaz Bellucci – Fresh from a Challenger event win, could face Tomic in round 2.

Veteran Watch:
Albert Montanes – Still has the clay chops to cause trouble.

Up and Coming: Cedrik Stebe – At home in Germany could be dangerous.

Slumping: Bernie Tomic – Not the Tomic we saw last year and needs a good tournament.

On Fire: Lukas Rosol – Victory over Rafa at Wimbledon will either help or hinder him here.

My pick: Juan ‘Pico’ Monaco – Pico has won 2 events so far this year and knows how to win on clay.

Did You Know? Argentines and Spaniards have dominated the event in recent times, combining to win the past eight of the past nine titles.

SkiStar Swedish OpenBåstad

The popular Swedish event attracted some of Spain’s finest as well as Tommy Robredo who returns from a lengthy injury. Swedish tennis is in a bad state and so obligatory wildcards go to Michael Ryderstedt and Christian Lindell. Sweden badly needs Soderling to return right now.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion:
Robin Soderling  – Still sidelined with Mono unfortunately.

Nasty Floater: Tommy Robredo – A win at last week’s Challenger event, signals that Tommy is back!

Veteran Watch:
 Jarkko Nieminen – The top Scandinavian gets a nice draw and will be well supported.

Up and Coming: Federico Delbonis – Posting some nice results this year and another good Argentine to track.

Slumping: Mikhail Kukushkin – Quiet this year and has a bad draw again.

On Fire: David ‘The Wall’ Ferrer – The human blow torch, when is this man not playing well?

My pick: David Ferrer – See above.

Did You Know? The SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad has been voted by players as the ATP World Tour 250 Tournament of the Year for 10 consecutive years from 2002-11

ATP Vegeta Croatia Open UmagUmag

The Croatian open is a popular event on the calendar and surprisingly very few Croatians have won the event in it’s history. The fact it is on clay perhaps has been the reason.

Spain and Argentina have dominated, like every other clay event of course and the Spaniards this time all feature in the top half of the draw. Good news for the bottom half.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion:
Alex ‘The Dog’ Dolgopolov – Having a mixed year and needs to put in a good performance.

Nasty Floater: Fabio Fognini – Could have been seeded and could face the defending champ in round 2.

Veteran Watch:
 JC Ferrero – The Mosquito has a great record here and returns for the 6th time.

Up and Coming: Andrey Kuznetsov – This talented Russian gets a wild card.

Slumping: Ivan Dodig – Let’s hope being back in Croatia will kick start his season.

On Fire: Marin Cilic – A big win at Queens has helped Marin get back to where he needs to be.

My pick: Marin Cilic – Playing well + nice draw = winner

Did You Know? Marin Cilic, would become the first Croatian winner in Umag since the tournament’s inaugural edition in 1990, when Goran Prpic defeated Goran Ivanisevic.

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

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