ATP Montpellier, Vina del Mar, Zagreb: Preview and Predictions

The women take a week off from the WTA tour to focus on Fed Cup duties as the men take centre stage with three 250 tournaments to focus on for the week ahead.  The highlight will of course be Rafael Nadal‘s return to the tour.  Lets take a look at each draw…

ATP Montpellier
Richard Gasquet

The strongest of the three tournaments is in Montpellier where the draw is kitted out with 10 French players and that is before the qualifiers have even been added which could take that tally even higherTomas Berdych headlines the draw, but will have a challenge in itself to be in one piece on the court following a gruelling week of Davis Cup duty that saw him involved in a 7 hour plus doubles match on Saturday.  Berdych is due to face Nikolay Davydenko in the quarter-finals and Richard Gasquet in the semi-finals; I like Gasquet’s chances this week although he will likely have to get past Gael Monfils in the second round.

Benoit Paire and Gilles Simon are the highest seeds in the third section and I think Paire could have a strong week.  Simon would be my tip for an early upset as I still haven’t recovered from his performances against Monfils and Murray in Melbourne.  Fellow Frenchmen, Paul-Henri Mathieu is a potential second round opponent and someone that has a winning head-to-head against Simon.  Janko Tipsarevic bookends the draw and could face Michael Llodra in the second round, whose serve-and-volleying ways could certainly threaten Tipsy.

1st Round Predictions – Davydenko to beat Stakhovsky in 2 tight sets, Monfils to beat Bemelmens in 3 sets, Mannarino to beat Darcis in 2 sets and Mathieu to beat Kukushkin in 2 tight sets

Final Prediction – Richard Gasquet d. Benoit Paire

Full predictions for Montpellier HERE

ATP Vina del Mar
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal headlines the first clay court tournament of 2013 in Chile.  The standard of the draw is pretty weak so it seems a wise choice for Nadal to start his comeback here and shake off the rust, which will definitely be there following seven months away from the tour.  After a first round bye, he will play a qualifier or Guido Pella in the second round.  Jeremy Chardy is the highest seed he could face before the final with Paolo Lorenzi and Daniel Gimeno-Traver rounding out the seeds in the top half.

Juan Monaco is the number two seed and he will want to get his 2013 season going after injuries hampered his chances in Australia.  Pablo Andujar, Carlos Berlocq and Albert Ramos are the final three seeds rounding out the top eight.  I do not fancy Monaco to make it past quarter-finals and predict that the unseeded Santiago Giraldo, a competent clay courter, will do well here…

1st Round Predictions – Sousa to beat Gimeno-Traver in 3 sets, Robredo to beat Riba in 2 sets and Berlocq to beat Kuznetsov in 3 sets

Final Prediction – Rafael Nadal d. Pablo Andujar

Full predictions for Vina del Mar HERE

ATP Zagreb
Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic and Andreas Seppi, who met in the third round of this year’s Australian Open, are the top two seeds in Zagreb.  Cilic is in the tougher of the two halves with Marcos Baghdatis, Mikhail Youzhny and Grigor Dimitrov all potential opponents from the quarter-finals.  Seppi looks to have a far easier route with Martin Klizan the first seed he could face in the quarter-finals.  The number 4 seed, Jurgen Melzer has been pretty irratic of late so I will be surprised to see him match his seeding of a semi-final place.

1st Round Predictions – Baghdatis to beat Kamke in 2 tight sets, Dimitrov to beat Karlovic in 3 sets and Kubot to beat Rosol in 3 sets

Final Prediction – Andreas Seppi d. Marin Cilic

Full predictions for Zagreb HERE

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