The European Indoor swing continues in France, this time with the Open 13, an ATP 250 tournament in Marseille. The French have gone well in this tournament in recent years, with four of the last seven tournaments won by a home player (two of which by defeating another Frenchman in the final) with Michael Llodra making three finals, only winning the one. The defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro will be second seed in a strong field which contains 5 top 10 players.
Top seed Tomas Berdych gets an opening round bye but will have a tough second round match against two very competent indoor players on their day. Jarkko Nieminen pulled off an astonishing double bagel of David Goffin in Rotterdam last while you never know what to expect from Ernests Gulbis. The Latvian admitted he had recently quit smoking and looked impressive in the same tournament last week, taking Juan Martin Del Potro to a first set tie break before faltering but there were signs of improvement. Gulbis shocked Berdych on Centre Court at Wimbledon last year and is more than capable of doing so again if he keeps his concentration. A Frenchman will definitely be in the second round with Julien Benneteau taking on wildcard Lucas Pouille. The youthful Pouille fought well against Viktor Troicki before losing in straights and it could be more of the same against Benneteau. Benneteau hopes to be eighth time lucky in the Rotterdam final but will have his work cut out against Del Potro. Two big hitting but inconsistent players in Lukas Rosol and Jerzy Janowicz fight it out for a spot in a second round in a match that should be short on breaks. Janowicz was a surprise early loser against Victor Hanescu in Rotterdam which should be a reality check for the Pole who should be finding it easy against the likes of Hanescu if he is to fulfill his potential.
Janko Tipsarevic takes on the winner of an all qualifier tie in the second round with Richard Gasquet a likely quarter final opponent. Gasquet’s first round opponent Gilles Muller has won just one match this year (including challengers) and the Frenchman won’t be the ideal opponent to help end his bad run. Another meeting with Gael Monfils after they met in Montpellier looks very likely although Marcel Granollers will hope to have something to say to that. Defeats against Matteo Viola and Frank Dancevic in the past two weeks don’t inspire much confidence at all though.
2009 winner Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost in his opening match in Rotterdam against Igor Sijsling and he won’t have it all his own way here with Nikolay Davydenko likely to be his opponent, should the Russian defeat a qualifier. Davydenko took the first set against eventual winner Juan Martin Del Potro last year before being forced to retire at the end of the second. After a 2012 of ups and downs, Benoit Paire looks to be getting it together but had to retire in Rotterdam down 0-4 in the final set. If just a precautionary withdrawal then he could well be a good bet to make the quarter finals. Somdev Devvarman will struggle on the faster courts while Martin Klizan was another who had to withdraw in Rotterdam while down in the third set. Bernard Tomic needs to rack up some points before the clay season comes round but was a first round loser in Rotterdam.
A rematch of the 2012 final is on the cards with Juan Martin Del Potro awaiting the winner of David Goffin and Michael Llodra. Goffin can literally do no worse than last week after losing 6-0 6-0 in Rotterdam but Llodra on fast French indoor courts is not who you want to face in the middle of a run of bad form. Del Potro is heavy favourite to take the Rotterdam title and will be the favourite here presuming he can get past Llodra. He defeated the Frenchman 6-4 6-4 in last years final and a similar score would not be a surprise this time round either. Presuming the injury picked up in the Rotterdam semi final isn’t serious Gilles Simon should find it fairly easy to make the quarter finals. Robin Haase added yet another first round exit to his results in Rotterdam while Roberto Bautista-Agut or a qualifier that could be the likes of Sergiy Stakhovsky, Edouard Roger Vasselin are more accomplished at the level below. Bautista-Agut was a shock finalist in Chennai but was brought back down to earth with a shock defeat to Marc Gicquel in the Quimper challenger.