The ATP World Tour returns to Europe after the US Open, this time to the French indoor hard courts of Metz. Since Metz returned to the tennis circuit in 2003 winners have included world no. 2 Novak Djokovic and Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga heads the field here as top seed and has a bye to the second round. Edouard Roger-Vasselin takes on a fellow countryman in qualifier Clement Reix. Having disappointed so much at the US Open, Tsonga will be looking to redeem himself here and the fast court should certainly be to his liking. Fresh off winning his countries decisive rubber in Davis Cup action at the weekend, Cedrik Marcel Stebe should be full of confidence when he takes on Jesse Levine. Levine is an accomplished hard court player at challenger level but has struggled to make the step up to the main tour. His devastating defeat in New York is unlikely to fill him with confidence either. One of two German lucky losers, Michael Berrer will be happy with his draw here. He takes on Jan Hajek whose best performances have been on clay – Hajek is 0-8 at ATP level in the past two years on all types of hard courts.
In what should be a display of massive serving, big men Kenny de Schepper and Ivo Karlovic will duke it out for an opportunity to take on the third seed Marcel Granollers. Expect tie breaks here! Wildcard Paul Henri-Mathieu finally broke back into the top 100 after making the final of Petange challenger. His opponent will be Gilles Muller who, as top seed, was a shock early exit in the same tournament. Mischa Zverev‘s reward for qualifying is a tie with eighth seed/wildcard Nikolay Davydenko. The pair met twice in late 2010 and split matches. While Davydenko hasn’t had a great season on the whole, he did impress on one of his previous indoor tournaments this year. He managed to take a set against Roger Federer at Rotterdam and had numerous break opportunities in the final set that he was unable to convert.
After some disappointing defeats since London, Andreas Seppi will be happy to have got some wins under his belt in Davis Cup action. His hard court form, indoor or outdoor, hasn’t been great though and this could be an opportunity for Ivan Dodig to spring a shock. He will have been disappointed to lose to eventual Petange winner Tobias Kamke last week having had a break lead in the final set but did show some promising play. Another French qualifier in Vincent Millot will be hoping to move through to the next round when he faces Dutchman Igor Sijsling. Sijsling impressed against David Ferrer at the US Open and was unfortunate not to take an epic tiebreaker that eventually won the match for Ferrer. After picking up two Davis Cup victories for Germany, Florian Mayer will be hoping to keep his winning run going but has a potentially dangerous opponent in James Blake. While not as consistent these days, the American’s explosive hitting can still trouble many. It was there for all to see at the US Open when Blake blew Spaniard Marcel Granollers off the court.
After a long layoff from injury Gael Monfils finally returns to the tour but has a tough opening fixture. Despite his small stature, Olivier Rochus has often troubled Monfils – as shown by their 3-3 record. They have not played since 2010 but Monfils was successful on that occasion on the indoor courts of Stockholm. Nicolas Mahut is always a danger on fast surfaces and should be able to defeat lucky loser Daniel Brands. Both players most recently had disappointing results in the US Open, Mahut lost from two sets up against Philipp Petzschner while Daniel Brands almost came back from two sets down to defeat Marin Cilic but couldn’t handle the pressure late on, allowing the Croatian to progress. Finally, Benoit Paire has a chance for revenge against Philipp Kohlschreiber for his US Open defeat. Paire served for the match in the fifth in a rollercoaster match but was unable to convert and lost in the tie break. The unpredictable Frenchman must however first defeat Xavier Malisse.
Finals Prediction – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeats Florian Mayer