Alongside Rotterdam, the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis is one of two indoor events on the ATP World Tour this week. The event had been a 500 in recent years but has been downgraded to a 250 event after losing the license to Rio de Janeiro. The two finalists from last year, Kei Nishikori and Feliciano Lopez take their place as the top two seeds here.
Check out the Full Draw Here: ATP Memphis 2014 Draw
The only top 20 player at the event this year, Nishikori will be the favourite to defend his title with the two prominent big serving Americans in John Isner and Milos Raonic choosing not to compete. He opens his defence in the second round against either Benjamin Becker or Lukas Lacko. Lacko is 3-0 against the German, who saved seven match points in his opening round victory in Zagreb before losing in the next round.
Bjorn Phau was a surprise semi finalist at the same tournament with a win over Mikhail Youzhny the pick of the bunch. He faces Ryan Harrison who has been in terrible form recently, losing 9 straight main draw matches at all levels before finally defeating Gastao Elias in Dallas last week. Sam Querrey is the other seed in the section and looks to bounce back from an embarrassing Davis Cup loss last week, with his defeat to James Ward decisive in Great Britain’s victory. He is 2-2 against Alex Bogomolov but won their most recent meeting in 2012.
Third seed Lleyton Hewitt will look to become the first Aussie winner in Memphis since Mark Phillipousis and has a handy draw to begin with. He will face either the slumping Marcos Baghdatis – a loser to Pedja Krstin last week or a qualifier that includes the likes of David Goffin and Rajeev Ram.
A possible clash between Australia’s past and future is on the cards of Nick Kyrgios can make it through his mini section. He will have to improve massively on his last performance against Tim Smyczek. Smyczek dropped just four games in victory at Sacramento last year. Michal Przysiężny is eighth seed and opens against Michael Russell.
The third quarter boasts three qualifiers and one of them will definitely make the second round where they face either Mikhail Kukushkin or Teymuraz Gabashvili. After ending the year with a Moscow final, Kukushkin hasn’t fared too well this year with his sole win against Ruben Bemelmans in Davis Cup. However, Kukushkin is 3-1 against Gabashvili including two 2013 victories.
Donald Young will also play a qualifier with Yen-Hsun Lu awaiting the winner. Young is 2-0 against Lu with wins in Leon Challenger and Bangkok.
Given the gap between the top few seeds, it seems difficult to go against Feliciano Lopez as the advancing player from this half of the draw. He may find trouble against Ivo Karlovic in a potential round two although it’s hard to read much into the 3-4 head to head when their last meeting was over five years ago. Karlovic must first defeat Matthew Ebden before worrying about the Spaniard anyway.
In defeating Milos Raonic, who was seemingly unbreakable on North American indoor hard courts in the recent past, Jack Sock showed that he is capable of troubling the upper levels of the game although consistency has not followed. A quarter final is up for grabs in his section and he has already defeated first round opponent Adrian Mannarino this year in Auckland. The final seed in the draw is Marinko Matosevic and he faces Jiri Veselý first up.
SF: Kei Nishikori def. Lleyton Hewitt
SF: Feliciano Lopez def. Mikhail Kukushkin
F: Kei Nishikori def. Feliciano Lopez