The clay court season moves on from Monte Carlo to Bucharest this week. The Romanian capital hosts the 250 event which is named after two of it’s most illustrious players. The BRD Năstase Țiriac Trophy is in it’s 22nd edition and welcomes two top 20 players to the tournament. Grigor Dimitrov and Mikhail Youzhny are first and second seed respectively.
Dimitrov took a late wildcard and will be amongst the favourites to win what would be his second title of the year. He will play either Jeremy Chardy or Jiri Vesely in round one. Both Chardy and Dimitrov saw their runs in Monte Carlo end at the hands of David Ferrer but the Bulgarian fared slightly better, losing 4 and 2. They have met once on clay, Chardy coming out on top against an inexperienced opponent.
The other seed in this section is Andreas Seppi who faces Carlos Berlocq for the second time this year. Berlocq was victorious in four sets on Argentinian clay, dropping just three games in the final three sets after losing the first. Wildcard Patrick Ciorcilă gets his first taste of the main tour when he faces Sergiy Stakhovsky. The 18 year old Romanian has played a few Challengers in the past year and also played qualifiers last year at this event, losing in straight sets to Stakhovsky.
This year’s qualifiers could include Adrian Ungur, Ricardas Berankis and Paul Henri Mathieu – who could well play each other in round one. Gael Monfils plays the winner of an all qualifier match in round two, a favourable draw for the third seeded Frenchman. The other seed in this quarter, Nicolas Mahut, also plays a qualifier and may play a Romanian in round two. Marius Copil is yet to play on clay this year but has a great chance against Adrian Mannarino who favours faster surfaces.
Last year, Lukas Rosol secured his first ATP title at this tournament but the unseeded Czech will have a tough time of making it two, defending his title in the process. He opens his defence against an out of form Filippo Volandri, who is 1-9 on the year at tour level with Jarkko Nieminen the seeded player waiting in round two. Nieminen faces Leonardo Mayer who has gone 1-5 since his surprising run to the Vina del Mar final.
Israelis and clay don’t usually mix so it is a surprise to see Dudi Sela in the draw for this tournament. Sela did win against Grega Zemlja in Davis Cup on the surface a few weeks back but wins are few and far between. Victor Hanescu faces Sela and should see to it that home interest extends at least into the second round. Hanescu was a finalist in 2007, losing to Gilles Simon - who he will play in round two should he defeat Sela.
After five straight losses, fifth seed Vasek Pospisil hopes to finally see a change in fortunes and a first round draw against a qualifier will please the Canadian whose rise up the rankings came on hard courts. Thomaz Bellucci showed early season that he hadn’t quite lost it with quarter final and semi final runs in Brazil. A first round against an opponent who retired last time out - Denis Istomin – could mean the Brazilian makes the quarter finals or better here.
Mikhail Youzhny rounds off the seeds and will most likely play Robin Haase. The Dutchman faces Matthew Ebden who showed in Houston his dislike for the clay. He has played very few matches on the surface in the past five years and last time out won just three games against Santiago Giraldo.
SF: Grigor Dimitrov def. Gael Monnfils
SF: Mikhail Youzhny def. Victor Hanescu
F: Grigor Dimitrov def. Mikhail Youzhny
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