ATP Valencia Open 2012 Draw Preview and Analysis

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For the full draw, click here: ATP Valencia Open 2012 Draw

One of two ATP 500 tournaments this week, the Valencia Open 500 has an interesting history. The tournament has moved from Valencia to Majorca, Marbella and then back to Valencia again in the past 20 years before calendar changes saw the outdoor clay tournament become an indoor hard court tournament in 2009. Andy Murray won the first tournament but it has been won by Spaniards in the last two years, David Ferrer and Marcel Granollers. This tournament will be last of Juan Carlos Ferrero‘s career, as he will retire afterwards.

As to be expected from a home tournament of a country with many strong players, Spaniards flood the top half. Top seed David Ferrer and Albert Ramos can face each other in the second round if they can both defeat qualifiers. Ramos continues to struggle on hard courts and could be a scalp for whoever makes it through the qualifying rounds. Sam Querrey and Feliciano Lopez face each other for the third time this year and the second time in under a month. Lopez leads the head to head 2-1 on hard courts but was lucky to get away with victory last time – Querrey held a set and break lead before a shocking collapse saw him lose in three. Juan Carlos Ferrero‘s farewell match looks very likely to be in the first round as he takes on another Spaniard in Nicolas Almagro. Almagro will be heavily motivated to win, given he still has hopes of making the World Tour Finals. He leads the head to head 4-1 but interestingly Ferrero has the one hard court win.

Fresh off a quarter final appearance in Stockholm, wildcard Lleyton Hewitt will be in a confident mood. He starts off with a tough match against fourth seed Juan Monaco. Monaco already has an indoor title this year in Kuala Lumpur and while he should be able to see off Hewitt, it will be a tough ask to repeat the trick here. The winner of this match faces most likely Philipp Kohlschreiber who starts off with a qualifier. A second all-Spanish opening round tie is in the draw with wildcard Tommy Robredo facing Fernando Verdasco. Robredo is yet to play indoors this year with much of his return from injury coming on the clay courts. Robredo leads the head to head 6-5 but more importantly Verdasco has won their last two indoor encounters, including once here in 2009. The half is rounded off by  Marin Cilic and Martin Klizan. Klizan’s surprise run at the US Open was ended by Cilic in straights and he was defeated once more by the Croatian in Shanghai. Although Klizan is a much improved player recently, it would appear early that Cilic appears to have his number.

With all the Spaniard’s who perhaps don’t consider fast courts their preferred choice in the top half, the bottom looks very dangerous by comparison with plenty of big servers about. Two such players face off to begin, as Milos Raonic takes on Gilles Muller. Their only meeting was cut short very early at Wimbledon last year when Raonic retired in the first set a break up, tie breaks will be expected with them being a regular occurrence in both players indoor matches this year. 9 of 11 matches Raonic has played this year on the surface have had at least one tie break. After being shocked by Grega Zemlja in Vienna immediately after picking up win 500 on the ATP Tour, Tommy Haas will be desperate to get back to winning ways but will have to deal with the unorthodox style of Alexandr Dolgopolov. Dolgopolov blew match points in his Moscow defeat this week but will take confidence from the fact he defeated Haas last time out, winning in three in the final of Washington. Defending champion Marcel Granollers will be nowhere near the favourites but should at least see off a qualifier to make the second round. Waiting for him there should be Janko Tipsarevic or Gilles Simon. This match appears to be becoming a regular thing on the tour, with this now their third meeting in five tournaments. Simon leads the head to head 5-2, although the recent meetings have been split.

For someone with the game that John Isner has, it a surprise that he has only played one indoor tournament all year (Memphis). He takes on the surprise St Petersburg finalist Fabio Fognini, although the draw was admittedly fairly weak. Isner and Fognini have never played but you would have to favour Isner here who will probably nab a tie break on his way to victory. David Goffin hasn’t played much on the main tour this year indoors but the highly rated Belgian has a challenger title to his name in what was a strong Orleans draw headed by Philipp Kohlschreiber. His only main tour defeat indoors came when he was unfortunate to come up against fellow competitor Janko Tipsarevic. He plays Pablo Andujar, another struggling Spaniard who has not won a set in either of his indoor matches this year. Carlos Berlocq won his first indoor match of the year last week against Andrey Kuznetsov (who hasn’t played indoors this year) but it would be difficult to count on number two against a fairly accomplished player in Jurgen Melzer. A final set tie break defeat put paid to Melzer’s week in Vienna but he will be fairly confident of at least making the second round here. To complete the draw Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes on the veteran Xavier Malisse. Since losing in Washington, Malisse has struggled terribly exiting the first round in three consecutive tournaments before dropping down to the Challenger Tour. A retirement in Orleans and a first round exit in Mons was not an ideal build up for his return in Vienna and it showed as he fell in three sets to qualifier Grega Zemlja. Tsonga meanwhile is on his way to the Stockholm final and will be amongst the favourites for another title here.

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