ATP Picks: Atlanta, Gstaad, Umag

Three tournaments this week, one Stateside and two on the Euro-Clay. Let’s get started!

Name: BB&T Atlanta OpenBB&T Atlanta Open

The first men’s event of the Emirates Airline US Open Series and big news in that former two-time champion Mardy Fish is back. He’s been battling a literally heartbreaking illness of late and we wish him the best this week for many reasons. This is only his second tournament since the 2012 US Open.

Lots of US talent here including the wild cards Christian Harrison (Ryan’s brother), Denis Kudla and Rhyne Williams. Ryan Harrison is here too along with vets James Blake and serve and volleyer Rajeev Ram.

atp-atlanta-open-img4785_668

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Hard

Defending Champion:
Andy Roddick – Retired

Nasty Floater:
Ivo Karlovic – A born-floater, the Croat could upend Anderson in round 1 as he just did in Colombia last week.

Veteran Watch:
Mardy Fish – Just nice to see him back and hopefully can win a few rounds.

Up and Coming: Ricardas Berankis – Still no big breakthrough on tour for the Lithuanian and wearing out this tag.

Slumping: John Isner – Long John is the top seed here but could meet foe in Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-finals.

On Fire: Kevin Anderson – Lost to Karlovic last week but if he can get revenge has a decent draw.

My pick: John Isner – The conditions favor him and he must see this as a big opportunity.

Did You Know? The BB&T Atlanta Open headed downtown to a new venue at Atlantic Station in 2012.

Crédit Agricole Suisse Open GstaadCrédit Agricole Suisse Open

Gstaad is the scene for one of the prettiest events on the calendar and the big news is that Roger Federer plays for the first time since winning the title in 2004. This could be taken as a good or bad thing that he’s playing 250 events based on his results this year, but it’s fun for the Swiss to watch their hero play on home soil.

There are 4 Swiss players in the draw, Federer, Stan Wawrinka and 2 wildcards the veteran Marco Chiudinelli and Henri Laaksonen.

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Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion:
Thomaz Bellucci – Not the same player as last year. His results have been dismal and needs to find some form this week.

Nasty Floater: Guillermo ‘Willy’ Garcia Lopez – Could face Juan Monaco in round 2. Has a lethal backhand.

Veteran Watch:
 Paul Henri-Mathieu – Gets old foe Youzhny in round 1 in a marquee match.

Up and Coming: Andrey Kuznetsov – Young Russian gets a tough draw but he could beat Stakhovsky in round 1.

Slumping: Roger Federer – Two losses to players outside the top 100 in as many tournaments says it all. Will a larger racket head make any difference?

On Fire: Federico Del Bonis – The 22 year old from Argentina, dumped out Federer from Hamburg last week. A name to remember.

My pick: Stan Wawrinka – At home, he must fancy his chances with Federer on the ropes.

Did You Know? Roger Federer was presented with a cow during a homecoming celebration in 2003 after winning his first Wimbledon title.

Vegeta Croatia Open

A decent quality field of dirt-ballers here this week. Croatian tennis is spearheaded by defending champ Marin Cilic but remarkable is not here. The other top Croatian player Ivan Dodig, fancies his chances on the hard courts of Atlanta. A snub or being smart?

This leaves Croatia cheering for wild cards in the shape of Mate Pavic, Antonio Veic and Borna Coric, which may not last very long.

ATP2013Umag-645

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion:
Marin Cilic – Broke the Croatian drought of 22 years last year but not here to defend.

Nasty Floater: Albert Montanes – Highly effective on clay and has 5 titles to his name. Could face Gasquet in round 2.

Veteran Watch:
 Tommy Robredo – Gets a nice draw and could see his way through to the final with a some luck.

Up and Coming: Aljaz Bedene – Results a little flat of late but he could pull off an upset against Dolgopolov in round 2.

Slumping: Alex ‘The Dog’ Dolgopolov – Flashes of brilliance won’t win titles, so he needs to grind some out.

On Fire: Fabio Fognini – On a hot streak with 1 title and 1 final in 2 weeks. The Italian Stallion is running wild!

My pick: Richard Gasquet – The conditions look good for the Frenchman if just plays his game.

Did You Know?  In 2012, Marin Cilic became the first homegrown champion since the tournament’s inaugural edition in 1990.

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

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