A quick recap on last week’s action and age continues to hold no barrier for some of the game’s elite players when Dominican Estrellas Burgos defended his Quito title coming from behind to beat warm favourite Tomas Bellucci. Richard Gasquet also collected the honours at Metz, defending his title while, after a disappointing 2015 season, Roberta Buatista Agut bounced back to form lifting the new tournament trophy in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The trend of defending titles, which is usually a rare occurrence reserved for the game’s top players, has been a common occurrence this year with Wawrinka defending Chennai, Troicki defending his Sydney title and of course Djokovic making it a record-equalling sixth Australian Open.
On to this week and there is an ATP 500 event in Rotterdam, a semi-indoor event in Memphis USA and the continuation of the Golden Clay Court swing in South America. Stan Wawrinka does not return to defend his Rotterdam title and Montpellier winner Richard Gasquet and 2014 finalist Marin Cilic are seeded one and two respectively.
The top two seeds have won the title four times between them over the last decade and the last winner was Federer when seeded two in 2013. Seeded players in general have a good record at Rotterdam with a player seeded no higher than four winning eight of the last 10 titles and a seeded player no higher than eight has contested six finals. Unseeded players have only won the title twice in the last decade (last time 2007) but have contested five finals in this period the last coming 2014 when Cilic lost against Berdych.
This year’s competition may not be as strong as previous years in terms of strength if depth and there are quite a few experienced and in form players who stand a good chance based on form and past statistics. Third seed Gilles Simon at 8/1 fits the profile as he’s won four ATP indoor titles on home soil. He did lose in the first round at Montpellier last week against semi-finalist Dustin Brown but, prior to that, in the Australian Open he was the only player to push Djokovic to five sets and his first round defeat last week can be overlooked with it being his first tournament back home in Europe.
With both Gasquet and Bautista Agut (who won tournaments last week) in the top half of the draw and unlikely to be good enough to win back to back titles, it may leave the way open for an outsider to slip through, possibly fourth seed David Goffin at 12/1 or the unseeded Jaoa Sousa at 40/1 who has a strong record on indoor European hard courts.
Over in North America Kei Nshikori is going for a record breaking fourth straight Memphis title and, with possibly only Sam Querrey looking like his only serious challenger, it’s hard to oppose him making it four straight Memphis finals and titles at Evens. In the bottom half of the draw, Steve Johnson seeded two and Donald Young three should be a couple of the players challenging to make the final, however, neither has played that well so far this year or is that reliable and consistent. One young American player who catches the eye and has all the weapons and skills to perform well this week is Wild Card Taylor Fritz who is one of a batch of young talented American players approaching the top 100 and at an opening price of 66/1 (33/1 still available) he could spring a surprise this week.