ATP Picks: Marseille, Memphis, Buenos Aires

Marseille

The Open 13 is one of five French tournaments on the ATP World Tour calendar, held on the Mediterranean coast in the city of Marseille. France has no shortage of good players right now, led by Jo Tsonga, while Richard ‘Head’ Gasquet is enjoying a career renaissance. Julien Benneteau at 31 is playing as well as ever, but can’t capture that 1st tour win sadly.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Indoor Hard

Defending Champion: Juan Del Potro – Just won Rotterdam so in good nick, but faces a tough field in defense of his title.

Nasty Floater: Ernests Gulbis – Showed signs of form last week and on his day has the tools to beat most anyone.

Veteran Watch: 
Nikolay ‘The Machine’ Davydenko – Up and down but loves playing on indoor fast courts.

Up and Coming: Roberto Bautista Agut – Prefers clay but a player to watch this season.

Slumping: Jo ‘Willy’ Tsonga – Slow out the gate so far but will be fired up in his home country.

On Fire: Julien ‘United Colors Of’ Benneteau – Beat Federer on route to the Rotterdam final before falling to Del Potro. Could be tired this week. 

My pick: Juan Del Potro – The sledgehammer looks good to continue his run this week.

Did You Know? Six Frenchmen have lifted the Marseille trophy – Guy Forget-1996; Fabrice Santoro-1999; Arnaud Clement-2006; Gilles Simon-2007; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga-2009 and Michael Llodra-2011.

Watch: Tsonga vs. Berdych 2013 Final

Memphis

The U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships is played at the Racquet Club of Memphis, the only private club in the world to host a professional men’s and women’s combined indoor event. Lots of points and money up for grabs, so the field is deep. The US players have tricky draws apart from Steve Johnson, who gets a qualifier, so it could be an opportunity for him to get some points and press.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 500

Surface: Indoor Hard

Defending Champion: Jurgen ‘Tuna’ Melzer – Surprise winner last year will have a tough time defending with Cilic in his quarter.

Nasty Floater: Lleyton Hewitt – Played well last week and loves to take on the big servers. Could face Isner in round 2.

Veteran Watch:
James Blake – Still dangerous but not helped by the draw here, facing Mayer and potentially Raonic in round 2.

Up and Coming: Jack Sock – Gets Raonic 1st round, which looks too much for him.

Slumping: Fernando ‘Hot Sauce’ Verdasco – Flashes of brilliance these days with no real consistency. 

On Fire: Tommy ‘Gun’ Haas – Made the San Jose final and in the top 20. Times are good for the German/American.

My pick: Milos Raonic – Back to back titles tough, but he’s young enough.

Did You Know? Memphis has counted nine year-end ATP World Tour No. 1s among its winners – including Americans Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick.

Watch: Memphis Uncovered

Buenos Aires

The Copa Claro is the third stop of the four-tournament Latin American swing, and is contested on clay at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, known as the “Cathedral of Argentinean tennis”. Nearly every player here is either Spanish, Argentine or Italian, which tells you something about the world game on clay. Argentine tennis is a nice mix of youth and experience these days. Zeballos has finally come of age and Nalbandian made the final last week, losing to Nadal, but class never dies.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion: David ‘The Wall’ Ferrer – Still favorite here and looking for 2nd title of the year. Could play Nalbandian 2nd round.

Nasty Floater: David ‘Nails’ Nalbandian – At 31, shows us he can still outclass most players. A good chance this week to continue his form.

Veteran Watch: 
Tommy Robredo – Still a danger at this level and gets a decent draw.

Up and Coming: Martin Alund – Took a set off Nadal last week on clay. That’s worth something.

Slumping: Thomaz Bellucci – Too much talent here to waste. Needs some wins.

On Fire: Horacio Zeballos – Beating Nadal on clay took it out of him, but needs to keep up the momentum.

My pick: David Ferrer – No serious danger for him, suffice perhaps for Nalbandian.

Did You Know? An Argentine has reached the final in nine of the 11 editions of the ATP World Tour 250 tournament, with champions including Guillermo Coria, Gaston Gaudio, Juan Monaco and David Nalbandian.

Watch: Buenos Aires Uncovered

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