Tennis - Friday Report
This week’s tennis action at Hamburg, Bastad and Newport is now down to the quarter-final stage and, at Hamburg yesterday, there were no major shocks, apart from sixth seed Almagro losing an agonisingly close three setter against Mathieu 4-6, 7-6, 7-5. Today’s action sees top-seed Kohlschreiber and third seed Cuevas (my one remaining outright selection at Hamburg) in action and, if results go to form, they should both meet in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
Eighth seed veteran Garcia-Lopez faces Robert, whom he beat in straight sets at Estoril recently and there seems no reason why he should not repeat that result today. Seventh seed Klizan, who won the title at Rotterdam early this year and is making a comeback from injury, should see off veteran Gimeno-Traver as he beat the Spaniard twice on clay last year at this level.
At Bstaad yesterday top seed Ferrer came close to losing against the little known qualifier Hemery of France and will need to step up on that performance today against the unseeded Brown (Germany), who knocked out British number two Bedene in a close three setter. My tournament pick Ramos Vinolas faces Italian Arnaboldi today and will need to be at his best as Arnaboldi has progressed to this stage in comfortable fashion and is an experienced journeyman at this level on clay and more than capable of causing an upset.
In the bottom half of the draw fifth seed Verdasco has made comfortable progress to the quarter-finals winning both his matches in straight sets. Today he faces Bagnis, the conqueror of Granollers (seeded 4), and should prove too strong for the South American who wins the majority of his matches at Challenger level. Second seed Sousa faced little opposition in his first match against Wild Card Soderlund yesterday but faces a much stiffer task today against compatriot Elias. Elias leads the head-to-head 3-2, with all five of their matches having been on clay and Elias has won the last three, albeit it at challenger level, back in 2012.
Over in Newport (USA) results have mostly been going to form with six of the eight seeded players still in action at the quarter-final stage. Top seed Johnson faces eighth seed Young today in an all American clash and it’s a surprise that Johnson is such a short favourite given their head-to-head record is 2-2 and Young has reached this stage in impressive fashion.
Third seed Muller faces sixth seed Mannarino today and this one should go the way of Muller as he leads the-head-to-head 2-0. Second seed Karlovic should progress to the semi-finals against Chuidinelli without too much trouble, where he will face fourth seed Baghdatis who beat Sela in straight sets last night.
There is also Davis Cup quarter-finals action this weekend and defending champions Great Britain face Serbia in Belgrade. This would have been a mouth-watering clash if world number one and two Djokovic and Murray were taking part but both have withdrawn and this has taken the excitement out of the tie somewhat. However, the tie looks wide open now with the singles rubbers being contested between players ranked outside the top 50 and top 100 and GB look to have the advantage in the doubles with doubles world number one Jamie Murray and partner Inglot a high class partnership.
Argentina face a tough trip to Italy this weekend in what should be a highly entertaining and passionate encounter between two sporting mad nations. The likes of Seppi and Fognini for Italy and Delbonis and Monaco for Argentina will fight it out on the red dirt for the upper-hand in the singles rubbers while Del Potro has been tasked with securing a point in the doubles rubber tomorrow for Argentina alongside the talented Pella. This could tip the tie in their favour if Delbonis or Monaco can pick up wins in either of the singles rubbers today and on Sunday.
The clash of the weekend is between Davis Cup giants France and the Czech Republic and the tie is being played indoors on hard courts. Both teams are weakened for this clash as Gasquet, Monfils and Simon are unavailable for the hosts while Berdych has withdrawn for the Czechs. Tsonga will captain the French and will be joined by the impressive Pouille in the singles rubbers while Vesely and Rosol will try and pull the Czechs through in the singles. Both teams have very strong doubles partnerships with Wimbledon men’s doubles winners Mahut and Herbert joining up again against wily veteran Stepanek and Pavlasek for the Czechs. The French look to have the upper-hand here in terms of quality for the singles and doubles and home soil advantage plus a passionate support should see them triumph come Sunday.
Finally, the USA welcome Croatia to Portland, Oregan this weekend and Jack Sock and John Isner in the singles, alongside the Bryan Brothers in doubles, should prove too good for a decent Croatian team that consists of Cilic and Coric in the singles and Dodig and Draganja in the doubles.