This week is a packed line-up of tennis on both the WTA and ATP tours. We have the inaugural tournament in Washington, which is headlined by Shahar Peer and Nadia Petrova. It is not a fantastic draw but it has much more strength in depth than the lopsided draw from Baku last week. Peer and Petrova open up against qualifiers meanwhile the number three seed and Wimbledon Quarter-finalist, Tamira Paszek opens up against Melanie Oudin and Jelena Dokic takes on Zhang Shuai.
Several names to look out for include Varvara Lepchenko who has been improving in leaps and bounds this year. The highlight of the year was a 1st round upset of Flavia Pennetta at Roland Garros and she is on my prediction cards to reach the Semis! I also fancy Jie Zheng to do well here… as much as I believe Bojana Jovanovski (a projected 2nd round opponent) will be a big future star in the game, she like too many players is blighted with inconsistency. Overall, it is a difficult one to call but i’m going to go with the form book and go for the third seed, Tamira Paszek to triumph.
The top mens tournament this week is in Los Angeles although to be honest the draw is quite disappointing. Mardy Fish is the number 1 seed and is coming off the back of a superb week in Atlanta. The number two seed is Juan Martin Del Potro who has slowly been edging his way back to top form. I fancy Del Potro to really explode through the next few months and into the US Open and he is my prediction to win this title.
The remainder of the draw is of a relatively low calibre – Marcos Baghdatis and Thomasz Bellucci round out the top 4 seeds and both receive first round byes. However I predict neither will make it past the Quarters. Ryan Harrison and Giles Muller both had good weeks in Atlanta and willl be ones to watch out for this week.
Fernando Gonzalez who has fallen to number 297 in the world rankings continues his comeback this week and will fancy his chances to cause an upset against the number 7 seed, Igor Kunitsyn. Dmitry Tursunov also looks to have a good draw and should reach the Semis to play Mardy Fish. In the bottom half, the talented Grigor Dimitrov opens up against Tommy Haas in an intriguing match-up. Dimitrov has been especially disappointing in the last two weeks and will look to live up to his number 7 seeding this week by reaching at least the Quarters.
There are also two clay court tournaments in Gstaad and Umag. Gstaad sees the likes of Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Verdasco, Stanislas Wawrinka and Mikhail Youzhny compete in what is an impressive line-up. I believe it will actually be another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez who could go all the way. Juan Ignacio Chela headlines the tournament in Croatia with his biggest contenders likely to be Marin Cilic, Alexander Dolgopolov and Ivan Ljubicic.
Round 1 Tips:
Washington – Shvedova to beat Baltacha (11/8)
Los Angeles – Berrer to beat Blake (11/4)
Gstaad – Benneteau to beat Rosol (6/5)