For the full draw, click here: ATP Moscow 2012 Draw
The Kremlin Cup in Moscow is one of three ATP 250 tournaments this week played on an indoor hard court. Now in it’s 23rd year, the tournament has been historically dominated by home players. Yevgeny Kalfenikov and Nikolay Davydenko have taken eight titles between them, with the former winning five times in a row. Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki have stopped the run in the last two years, however Tipsarevic will not be appearing here but in Vienna.
Alexandr Dolgopolov is top seed here and will face either wildcard Evegeny Donskoy or a qualifier. Big things are expected of Donskoy having taken two challenger titles in recent months at Segovia and Astana but he is yet to make the step up to the main tour. He has competed in three matches, losing in St Petersburg, Belgrade and Barcelona. Although not the force he once was, Ivo Karlovic and his massive serve will always be a big threat on a surface like this. In Metz and Bangkok he held a 4-2 tie break record, with the two lost sets coming from Milos Raonic and Nikolay Davydenko. A deep run is probably not likely but he should have enough to defeat Italy’s Simone Bolelli. Bolelli exited early in challengers in Mons and Orleans and is likely to struggle with the step back up again. At least one Russian is guaranteed a second round place with Alex Bogomolov facing Nikolay Davydenko. Despite not having the greatest of years, Davydenko has generally excelled indoors pushing some of the best players to three sets. The two played in Beijing where Davydenko progressed in straight sets before withdrawing from his next match.
The second quarter has the potential for a shock semi finalist with both seeds definitely more comfortable on the clay. Thomaz Bellucci kicks off his tournament with either Flavio Cipolla or wildcard Teymuraz Gabashvili. After playing at least 20 main draw matches on the tour the last 4 years, Gabashvili’s involvement has been limited at the highest level as he has been stuck playing challengers for the most part. His only victory this year was in St Petersburg against Nikolai Fidirko (world ranked 729) and most recently was knocked out in Mons qualifying, although he was unfortunate to face eventual champion Kenny de Schepper. Cipolla was also successful in St Petersburg making the quarter finals and should be favourite to progress. Pole Jerzy Janowicz is slowly moving up the ranks and notably knocked out Ernests Gulbis at Wimbledon this year. He possesses a huge serve and could cause a shock in this section. Opponent Benjamin Becker has been competing in challengers in America the past fortnight and besides not putting up great results, the travel between continents could catch up. Wildcard Andrey Kuznetsov has been in stunning form the last month, winning 15 matches in a row on the way to three titles in Todi, Lermontov and Trnava. Unfortunately for him in this case, they were all on clay and he has very little hard court experience and none at all this year. Opponent Carlos Berlocq should have enough experience to see him through this one but there is no doubt Kuznetsov is one to watch out for this year.
2011 losing finalist Viktor Troicki has a chance to redeem himself and will begin his challenge with either Malek Jaziri or Rajeev Ram. Much of Ram’s success has been in North America, finding wins hard to come by in Europe. He was defeated in the first round of Istanbul challenger but did surprise Mathias Bachinger in St Petersburg. Meanwhile, much of Jaziri’s success that saw him storm up the rankings late last year and early this year was in the indoor swing. Challenger titles in Geneva and Quimper show he has some pedigree on this surface. Since his astonishing victory at Wimbledon, Lukas Rosol hasn’t quite seen his career burst into life like many expected it to. After failing to make the US Open as a qualifier, early exits in challengers have been the norm as he failed to get past the second round on four occasions. He will face Daniel Gimeno-Traver who last time out took the title on the clay in Madrid Challenger. His rare foray onto indoor courts saw him make the semi final of St Petersburg but it would have to be said that the match is most definitely on Rosol’s racket. The winner of this faces either Bjorn Phau or Denis Istomin. Phau hasn’t played since injuring his neck in Banja Luka challenger over a month ago. Istomin should expect to progress here and will do if he can play as well as he did against Stanislas Wawrinka, taking the Swiss to three and having great opportunities to win.
The final quarter is qualifier heavy with three of seven spots occupied by them. Second seed Andreas Seppi was a finalist recently in Metz but couldn’t do much in the final against a rampant Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Seppi begins with either Igor Sijsling or a qualifier. Sijsling showed his ability on the indoor courts in taking a set off David Ferrer in Kuala Lumpur. Not long after defeating Nicolas Almagro, Tatsuma Ito has a chance to take out another Spaniard in Roberto Bautista-Agut. Ito has impressed in Asia but his results in the rest of the world leave a lot to be desired. Meanwhile Bautista-Agut has a tidy record on the surface, making semi finals of two French challenger this year. The winner will face the winner of an all qualifier first round.
Finals Prediction – Alexandr Dolgopolov defeats Viktor Troicki