A week after the WTA event was hosted, the Heineken Open takes place in Auckland as one of the two final warmup events as players finish off preparations for the Australian Open. This edition of the tournament will be headed by David Ferrer. The Spaniard has won the last three events and four in total, a number matched only by 12 times slam winner Roy Emerson.
Ferrer and the other top 3 seeds receive a first round bye. The Spaniard will look to bounce back from a disappointing Doha loss to Daniel Brands when he plays either Federico Delbonis or a qualifier. Adept on clay, Delbonis has yet to show he is capable on hard and could be shocked by the likes of Lukas Lacko and Donald Young should they qualify.
An all-Spanish affair in round two (and so, likely quarter final) is on the cards should Albert Montanes and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez win their first round clashes but neither will be favoured to do so. Montanes is 1-2 against Santiago Giraldo, including a loss at this event three years ago while Garcia-Lopez faces eighth seed Robin Haase. Garcia-Lopez won just one match on hard courts in 2013, a three setter against Grega Zemlja.
Amongst the wildcards at this event are Marcos Baghdatis. The Cypriot had a disappointing year last year after going 5-2 in Australia and will be looking to bounce back against Daniel Brands. Brands got 2014 off to a good start with wins over Davydenko and Ferrer in Doha and looks to be improving all the time but Baghdatis at his best can still cause trouble for the German. The winner faces Kevin Anderson who was thrashed by Baghdatis at the US Open, winning just six games over three sets.
Yen Hsun-Lu retired in Chennai last week but remains in the field as of now for this event. It provides Igor Sijsling with a great chance to go to at least the quarter finals with the winner playing a qualifier/lucky loser.
Philipp Kohlschreiber was a losing finalist last year as well as taking the trophy in 2008 but has the tougher half of the draw if he wants a chance to repeat that feat this year with the three stronger seeds barring Ferrer around him. The route to the quarter finals should be straight forward enough with clay specialists in his way until then. Pablo Carreno-Busta was highly disappointing in losing to Yuki Bhambri in Chennai while Filippo Volandri and Horacio Zeballos will fare no better. Volandri has lost his last 10 main draw hard court matches spanning 4 years.
John Isner should make light work of a qualifier or Jose Rubin Statham to book a likely quarter final with Kohlschreiber. Isner does lead the head to head 3-2 but it has swung in the German’s favour in the past two years with Kohlschreiber winning at both the 2012 and 2013 US Opens. However, Isner’s 5 set difficulties are well documented and he may reverse the slump should the two meet.
Tommy Haas rounds off the top four seeds and his opening match will be against either Jack Sock or Adrian Mannarino. Sock is once again the recipient of a wildcard but hasn’t had much to show for them, going 4-7 on hard courts last year on the main tour. Haas has a straight sets win over Sock in 2013 – in the second round of the French Open.
Roberto Bautista-Agut also faces a qualifier while sixth seed Benoit Paire faces Michal Przysiezny. Paire remains as unpredictable as ever with his most recent tournament seeing him blow a third set 5-1 lead against Marcel Granollers in Chennai.
SF: David Ferrer def. Igor Sijsling
SF: John Isner def. Tommy Haas
F: David Ferrer def. John Isner