After an eventful Davis Cup weekend, the ATP Tour returns this week as the clay season begins. The Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca is a 250 event that has been a good event for Spaniards in recent years with four of the last five winners being Spanish. Tommy Robredo won last year but isn’t competing this year, leaving last year’s using finalist Kevin Anderson as top seed.
Anderson will likely face Victor Hanescu in round two with the Romanian facing a weak Moroccan wildcard in Hicham Khaddari in round one. Khaddari has not played a main tour match in his career and has only a few wins at Challenger level. Anderson is 3-2 against Hanescu having won the last three meetings including one on the clay of Estoril. Federico Delbonis is the other seed in the top quarter and will be favoured to take on Filippo Volandri in round two. Both play qualifiers that include a late signup in Gilles Simon amongst them.
In 2012, Moroccan wildcard Lamine Ouahab managed a shock win over Robin Haase at this tournament but it seems unlikely he will pick up a win here given he has failed to push on since then. Ouahab plays Albert Ramos in round one with Marcel Granollers awaiting the winner in round two. Ramos is 1-1 vs Granollers, although his win is by retirement.
Seventh seed Haase will play Oleksandr Nedovyesov who was part of a Kazakhstan team that almost pulled off a Davis Cup shock against Switzerland over the weekend. Nedovyesov was part of the doubles team that saw off Federer and Wawrinka in four sets. Tobias Kamke‘s win over Julien Benneteau also gave his German team legitimate hopes of a shock but like Kazakhstan they would ultimately be unsuccessful. Kamke will face Pablo Carreno Busta to begin the tournament.
Mikhail Kukushkin lost both rubbers for Kazakhstan but will look to bounce back in Morocco. He plays eighth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round one, hoping to extend his record to 3-1 over the Spaniard although it will be their first meeting on clay. The winner will play either Teymuraz Gabashvili or Carlos Berlocq who will meet for the first time in nine years.
Benoit Paire lost to eventual winner Robredo last year but as third seed will be expected better his quarter final outing from 2013. Kenny de Schepper is a potential second round opponent for him but must defeat Albert Montanes first up. de Schepper will be making a quick switch to clay, having been a losing finalist in the Le Gosier event in Guadeloupe over the weekend.
Gael Monfils took a late wildcard after helping France to victory in Davis Cup action by winning the fifth and decisive rubber. Monfils began the year well but hard court losses to Fabio Fognini and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez are disappointing after his opening few tournaments of the year. Monfils plays either Jiri Vesely or Leonardo Mayer in round two.
Fifth seed Joao Sousa opens up against Igor Sijsling and should fancy his chances against the Dutchman who is less at home on the dirt. Sousa has had a so-so year after bursting onto the scene but could go well on the off-chance that Monfils loses early. The winner of an all-qualifier round one awaits the winner of Sousa/Sijsling.
SF: Kevin Anderson def. Federico Delbonis
SF: Gael Monfils def. Carlos Berlocq
F: Gael Monfils def. Kevin Anderson
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