The ATP Tour continues on the European clay of Germany, this week in Hamburg. The International German Open is one of the oldest events on the calendar and will commence its 106th edition next week. While his record was beaten by numerous players in the amateur era, Roger Federer‘s four titles are the most in the Open Era. After a highly disappointing Wimbledon, Federer took a wildcard into this event as he goes in search of number five.
Looking at the two halves, Federer looks to have the much tougher one with a potential third rounder against Ernests Gulbis. Paolo Lorenzi or Daniel Brands are first up although the Italian’s participation could be in doubt after a retirement in Todi Challenger last week whilst 6-1 5-5 up in the semi final. Gulbis opens against a qualifier which could include Lukasz Kubot, Jan Hajek and 2010 champion Andrey Golubev. Gulbis defeated Federer in Rome 2010 during one of his hot streaks and also pushed Nadal to three in the same tournament. Gulbis had shown signs of returning to this level of form earlier in the year but was most recently bagelled by Tommy Haas in a three set defeat in Stuttgart.
2009 champion Nikolay Davydenko is not close to the level he showed that year but begins with a kind draw if head to heads are anything to go by. He has a 6-2 record over Florian Mayer including a straight sets defeat indoors at Rotterdam this year. Alexandr Dolgopolov should see the winner off as seventh seed but the Ukranian’s inconsistency makes it hard to judge with any real conviction given he has defeats to the likes of Dmitry Tursunov and Ivan Dodig on the surface this year. Feliciano Lopez would be the much preferred option for Federer. Federer holds a 10-0 record over the Spaniard, two of which have been on clay.
In the second quarter, two in-form players look to have the best chances to make the semi final. Jerzy Janowicz is fresh off an outstanding Wimbledon, even if the draw was kind to him in making the semi final. The Pole kicks off against a qualifier or Robin Haase. Janowicz beat Haase in four sets on the clay at Roland Garros and should advance barring a Wimbledon hangover.
Meanwhile, Fernando Verdasco continues his impressive run of form backing up his Wimbledon quarter final with a final in Bastad. Roberto Bautista-Agut most likely awaits, with the Spaniard most likely having too much experience for 16 year old Alexander Zverev. Given the other two seeds performances in their respective tournaments last week, it would be a surprise to see the semi finalist be anyone other than Janowicz or Verdasco. Jeremy Chardy and Tommy Robredo both lost to less illustrious opponents in their openers last time out. Janowicz and Verdasco are yet to meet but were a set away from meeting at Wimbledon before the eventual champion Andy Murray made his comeback.
Last year’s winner Juan Monaco avoids Federer with his place in the bottom half of the draw but it is hard to see him defending the title that saw him edge into the top 10 last year. He was extremely poor in his straight sets defeat to Grigor Dimitrov in Bastad while a shocking collapse saw him lose in five sets to Daniel Gimeno-Traver at the French Open. The consistency that fared him well in 2012 has very much disappeared in 2013 and he could well go out in Round 2. Gael Monfils awaits should he see off a qualifier but only has a 2-4 record against the Argentinian. Benoit Paire once again went missing in his Stuttgart quarter final against Victor Hanescu but should make the same stage again this year with 2009 finalist Paul Henri Mathieu and Albert Montanes both in poor form.
Despite facing a much improved Fernando Verdasco in Bastad, Nicolas Almagro will be ruing his failure to capture the title there given that fellow Spaniard David Ferrer was not there to pick up his usual victory over Almagro. With his seeding at 3, anything less than a semi final will most definitely be a disappointment. Both Tobias Kamke and Lukas Rosol are struggling for form and lost in straight sets in Stuttgart, the latter to a returning Thomaz Bellucci. Mikhail Youzhny will most likely be waiting in the third round after facing a Spaniard in the previous round. Daniel Gimeno-Traver is on a five match losing streak and will have to reverse a 0-4 head to head against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to end it. Youzhny holds a bizarre 5-0 head to head record over Almagro, most recently defeating him in three sets in Madrid this year.
Tommy Haas was a finalist as a wildcard last year and now finds himself a second seed just 12 months on. He will be hoping to repeat last year where he suffered a surprise loss in Stuttgart before his finals performance. He lost in straights to Fabio Fognini in the quarter finals but has an opportunity of revenge against the Italian if they both make the quarter finals. Victor Hanescu has lost his last two clay matches to Philipp Kohlschreiber and it looks likely a German will defeat him for the third consecutive time on the surface with Haas awaiting in round two. Slated to play Haas in round three is Martin Klizan, whom Haas defeated very comfortably at the same tournament last year for the loss of just three games.
Meanwhile Fognini begins against either Albert Ramos or Horacio Zeballos. Zeballos hasn’t really kicked on from his shock Nadal win in the spring and has now lost 9 of his last 10 matches. An all Italian affair is possible in round three with Andreas Seppi the other seed in Fognini’s section. Seppi plays the winner of Marcel Granollers and Thomaz Bellucci, of which the former leads the head to head 2-0. While Seppi has a winning record over his fellow Italian Fognini, he has quite worryingly lost the last four including in straight sets in Rome this year.