ATP Washington 2014 Draw Preview and Analysis

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Tomas Hegedus

 

The US Open series begins with the Citi Open in Washington D.C. The joint event sees 500 points up for grabs for the winner of the Men’s Singles. The 48 player draw sees each of the 16 seeds get a first round bye. Three times champion Juan Martin Del Potro is unable to compete due to injury but a strong field containing 4 top 10 players will still compete here.

Tomas Berdych heads the first quarter that will ensure a qualifier makes the next round and possibly even two. Robby Ginepri qualified after winning his first ATP match of the year last week in Atlanta. Berdych is 3-0 against the American and will hope to make it four in his first match since Wimbledon if Ginepri can see off Alejandro Falla. The Colombian lost to eventual champion Bernard Tomic in Bogota on his last outing.

Rajeev Ram takes on Jared Donaldson in an all-American qualifiers clash. Donaldson had been making waves on the futures circuit winning 3 straight titles before picking up a win over Marius Copil in Binghampton Challenger. Meanwhile, Ram looks for his first main draw win on hard this year after coming through without losing a set. The winner plays Vasek Pospisil who lost from a break up in the third to Dudi Sela in Atlanta.

Benjamin Becker was also defeated by Sela on the Israeli’s route to the final, losing in three sets. The German begins against Blaz Kavcic who has been in good form on the Challenger circuit, winning three of his last five events. A match with Santiago Giraldo awaits the winner. Giraldo was defeated by young star Alex Zverev in his last outing.

Feliciano Lopez is the last of the seeds in the first quarter and will play the winner of Victor Estrella and Tobias Kamke. Estrella came back down to earth after making his first ATP semi final but should fancy his chances against the German who makes the switch to hard court, also after losing to Zverev two tournaments running on clay.

Kei Nishikori plays his first tournament since Wimbledon here and will open against an American. Given Sam Querrey‘s 6-0 record against Michael Russell, it will likely be the big server that advances to a match with the Japanese here although his loss to Dudi Sela in Atlanta does hardly anything to inspire.

Like Francoise Abanda in the Women’s draw, one of the top young Canadian talents has received a wildcard into the event here. Filip Peliwo is a former Wimbledon and US Open junior champ but has struggled as of yet to make an impact on the main tour. He failed to qualify for Lexington Challenger and won just one match in Granby the previous week. Peliwo will play Atlanta quarter finalist Lukas Lacko with Yen Hsun Lu up in round two. Lu exited in round two of Atlanta after winning a Challenger in Chinese Taipei the week previous.

Lu had defeated Alex Kuznetsov in round one there before his exit. Kuznetsov begins his tournament against Tim Smyczek, an opponent he has faced 16 times at all levels, with the pair tied at 8. A match with Jeremy Chardy will be a reward for the player who makes it 9-8.

Richard Gasquet headed into Bogota 250 heavy favourite only to lose to Victor Estrella in the quarter finals. A far from easy opener awaits with either Atlanta finalist Dudi Sela or fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau to begin for Gasquet. Gasquet is 3-0 against Benneteau, two of which were on outdoor hard.

After a shock loss to Thiemo de Bakker in Atlanta, Kevin Anderson will be hoping not to slip up against what looks like routine opposition in his opener here. Francis Tiafoe, one of the top American juniors can meet the South African if he can defeat Evgeny Donskoy. In Atlanta qualifiers, Tiafoe held a break lead over Michael Venus before losing the third set on a tiebreak.

Former champion Radek Stepanek has a round one bye before playing either Malek Jaziri or Sergiy Stakhovsky. Stakhovsky has form after winning Binghampton a fortnight ago but is 0-2 against Jaziri as well as having lost all three meetings with Stepanek also, winning just four games in their only hard court meeting.

Denis Istomin was very disappointing  in his loss to Lacko in Atlanta last week from a set up and may find it tough against a seemingly newly inspired Bernard Tomic, assuming the Australian can see off Alejandro Gonzalez in round one. Tomic showed a lot of toughness on his way to taking the Bogota title with tennis that should ensure his trip to outside the top 100 is not one that happens again any time soon.

Coming off an impressive Wimbledon run, Grigor Dimitrov should be amongst the contenders if fit and ready. The Bulgarian moved into the top 10 with that run and should see no early problems from Yuichi Sugita or Donald Young. Sugita is yet to win a main draw match this year but even Young may be a tough ask on home soil.

John Isner continued doing what he does best – performing well on smaller American hard court tournaments. His Atlanta title defence didn’t have a mountain of tough opponents but he was still impressive in doing so. His first match here could be against someone else who won an American hard court tournament this past week in James Duckworth. The Australian wildcard won in Lexington Challenger which should give plenty of confidence going into his clash with Steve Johnson.

There could be tiebreaks galore in the round three clash if Ivo Karlovic also makes it as projected by his ninth seed placing. The Croatian has lost in back to back finals in Bogota and Newport, both in final set tiebreaks. He probably won’t have a chance to make it third time lucky at this event but should at least win his opener against either Benoit Paire or Frank Dancevic. Paire continues to frustrate with just 2 wins in his last 10 matches.

Despite serving double figures in double faults, Ilya Marchenko managed to qualify with a victory over Marius Copil. A better serving performance will be required if the Ukranian is to deny an all-Australian round two clash between Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic.

A semi final at Wimbledon from Milos Raonic helped the Canadian to his career high ranking and he can move back to no.6 with a good run at this event. Amongst one of the best non-Big 4 hard court players about, he should manage this. Michael Berrer comes off a Challenger clay final in Europe this weekend so the sudden change in surfaces may give Jack Sock a fairly easy ride into round two. Sock did pull off a major shock in his first meeting with Raonic but the Canadian has since won the last three.

SF: Tomas Berdych def. Kei Nishikori
SF: John Isner def. Kevin Anderson
F: John Isner def. Tomas Berdych

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