ATP Picks: Newport, Stuttgart, Båstad

After all the excitement of Wimbledon, it’s back to the main tour with 3 tournaments to enjoy.

Newport, RIThe Hall of Fame Tennis Championships

Perhaps the most beautiful tournament second only to Wimbledon, the Tennis Hall of Fame hosts it’s annual tournament. The field is loaded with Americans as it should and it’s good to see more top players choosing to play post Wimbledon these days. Some big names, albeit veterans, are on display such as James Blake and Lleyton Hewitt. Both are still playing well into their 30s but rely on wildcards a little too much, so getting their ranking up is a goal.

This year, among the Hall of Fame nominees, Michael Stich will be inducted. Stich of course, won Wimbledon in 1991 over Boris Becker and reached world number 2. Other inductees include Martini Hingis, Cliff Drysdale and Ion Tiriac.

Wildcards go to the popular Nicolas Mahut and Prakash Amritraj.

Newport_Tennis_Hall_of_Fame

The first U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championship was played in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1881

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Grass

Defending Champion:
John Isner – Long John was disappointing at Wimbledon, but seeks his 3rd title in a row in Newport.

Nasty Floater: James Blake – Returns to Newport for the first time since 2005. He reached the final in 2002 (l. to Dent) and is looking to win his 11th ATP World Tour title.

Veteran Watch:
 Lleyton Hewitt – Has not won a tournament since 2010, but reached the final here last year and you can’t count him out.

Up and Coming: Jack Sock – Has a big game on grass but needs to start putting some results together against the top dogs.

Slumping: Sam Querry – Having a quiet year and needs to kick-start his season again.

On Fire: Nicolas Mahut – A former runner up here and after finally winning his first ATP title on grass this year, a real dangerman.. 

My pick: John Isner – Still the big player to beat and a chance to three-peat will be enough motivation.

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

MercedesCup

Stuttgart will switch to a grass court event taking place the week following Roland Garros in the lead up to Wimbledon beginning in 2015. This is a welcome move considering the overwhelming number of clay events on the calendar and Germany’s long tradition for grass court tennis champions.

Construction of the grass courts, will begin immediately after the conclusion of this year’s tournament and says Tommy Haas: “It’s fantastic that Germany will host two grass court tournaments with Stuttgart and Halle from 2015. This will offer the world’s best tennis players ideal opportunities to prepare for Wimbledon. It is definitely a goal of mine to play on grass at the MercedesCup in two years.

German wildcards were awarded to Michael Berrer, Florian Mayer and Robin Kern.

MercedesCup

Stuttgart Champions get to drive away happy!

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion:
Janko Tipsarevic – He’s having a dreadful year so far. Perhaps happy memories will rejuvenate him to perform.

Nasty Floater:
Ernests ‘Lights Out’ Gulbis – The Latvian lurks in the top half and could meet Haas in the 2nd round.

Veteran Watch:
Tommy Haas – The German No. 1 last reached the final here in 1999, losing to Magnus Norman. He’s top seed now.

Up and Coming: Roberto Bautista-Agut – This little-known Spaniard has some game and could go deeper than expected.

Slumping: Phillip Kohlschreiber – For him, the last few weeks have been disappointing, but he loves playing in Germany and has a has a 98-82 clay-court record, with two ATP World Tour titles on clay.

On Fire: Tommy Haas – His form has not slipped at all this year and his confidence is sky high.

My pick: Tommy Haas – I think we’ve said enough.

Did You Know? The 2012 champion, Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, won a Mercedes-Benz SLK, which he gave to his wife. Nice of him!

SkiStar Swedish OpenSkiStar Swedish Open

The beautiful Swedish event boasts a stellar cast of dirt-ballers, chomping at the bit to gain some post-Wimbledon points. Swedes used to dominate this event but the last Swedish winner was Robin Soderling in 2011, who is all but retired. Having said that, Robert Lindstedt has won the doubles the last 3 years. If only he was good at singles!

Swedish wildcards were awarded to Markus Eriksson, Elias Ymer and Andreas Vinciguerra.

The SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad

Bastad has been voted by players as the 250 Tournament of the Year, 10 consecutive years, 2002-11.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion:
David Ferrer – After a good showing at SW19, The Wall #3 is chasing his 3rd title here and 11th on clay, bringing an 18-5 record at this event.

Nasty Floater: Albert Ramos – Plays a lot like Nadal and could cause Tommy Robredo problems in the 2nd round.

Veteran Watch:
 Tommy Robredo – Near his best again after injury and such a consistent performer on clay. He’ll be tough to beat. 

Up and Coming: Joao Souza – Tall Brazilian could ask Troicki some questions in round 1. 

Slumping: Grigor ‘Black Heart’ Dimitrov – The Bulgarian had a rough Wimbledon overall, so needs to pick it up here.

On Fire: Jerzy Janowicz – The Pole-veriser lit up Wimbledon, but will he have enough in the tank this week?

My pick: Nicolas Almagro – Looking for his 2nd title here and 13th career title. 

Did You Know? In 2011, Robin Soderling became the first multiple Swedish titlist since Magnus Norman in 2000.

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