For the full draw of this year’s tournament, please click here: ATP Casablanca 2013 Draw
Alongside the US Men’s Clay Court Championship, this week sees a return to the clay in Casablanca, Morocco. The Grand Prix Hassan II doesn’t boast as strong a field as that in America with just one top 25 player in Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss was a champion in 2010 but the last two years have seen Pablo Andujar take both titles.
Wawrinka was given a wildcard to add some much needed star power to this event and will be hoping for his second title here. He could play another wildcard in Moroccan Mehdi Ziadi but it would be a massive shock if the 756th ranked player could pull off the shock against Blaz Kavcic. After a fairly impressive 2012 which included two clay challenger titles, Kavcic has made the move to the main tour but has found it difficult on hard courts, losing his last five matches. A Spaniard will be guaranteed to be in the second round as Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez face off. Garcia-Lopez leads the head to head 3-0 but this should be Gimeno-Traver’s best chance to get a victory given his recent form as well as his opponent’s return after almost two months out. It could be an all-Spanish second round too if Albert Montanes sees off Edouard Roger-Vasselin although Montanes is another who has not played for over a month after a retirement in Acapulco.
The unpredictable Benoit Paire could be an outside pick to win the tournament given his recent form, albeit at Challenger level where he is fresh off a title in Le Gosier. Probable second round opponent Aljaz Bedene is another who performed well on clay at the lower level, picking up three challenger titles including the winner in challenger in this very same city. Bedene must first defeat a qualifier though. Before defeat to David Ferrer in the Miami quarter final, Jurgen Melzer was on a nine match winning run (five in Challenger Dallas) and showing signs of improving form and should continue it against Tobias Kamke whom he defeated in Miami in three sets. The winner faces either Tommy Robredo or Guillaume Rufin. Robredo’s best result came on the clay so far this year, where he was a semi finalist in Buenos Aires.
Bar his semi final run in Zagreb, fifth seed Robin Haase is still in an awful run of form having lost his last five matches at tour level. A return to the clay may see improvements, although he can’t do much worse than his straight sets defeat to Lamine Ouahab last year. He plays another with multiple clay challenger titles in 2012, Roberto Bautista-Agut. He had to retire in Miami but can still pose a threat if recovered. Big serving Kenny de Schepper will look to quickly forget about his final loss in St. Brieuc challenger but has very little experience on the surface. Opponent Steve Darcis holds a 1-0 record over de Schepper although it was on the indoor hard courts of Quimper and means very little. 2007 champion Paul-Henri Mathieu opens against a qualifier with the winner taking on Martin Klizan. Klizan won back to back challengers in Morocco early on in his excellent 2012 that eventually saw him become a constant on the main tour. Klizan has won the only meeting between the two, again this year in Rotterdam.
If Pablo Andujar is to make it three titles in a row, and consequently avoid a further slump down the rankings, he will have to improve massively. A 3-9 run on the year does very little to inspire although he did manage to finally snap an eleven match losing streak once back on the clay in Sao Paolo. A qualifier is first up for Andujar but it would be a surprise if he could see off the in-form Kevin Anderson. Anderson is currently 14-5 on the year although is not as impressive on clay as he is on hard courts although a five set defeat to Tomas Berdych at Roland Garros does show he can compete with much better players. 923rd ranked Younes Richadi also receives a wildcard with one lucky qualifier getting what should be a very straight forward win with Grega Zemlja or Matthias Bachinger awaiting in the second round. Zemlja was a one time clay challenger winner last year, taking victory in a weak field in Anning, China.