ATP Queens, Halle: Preview and Predictions

There are two ATP tournaments next week to kick off the 2013 grass court season.  Queens has always reigned supreme, but over the last couple of years the draw has looked much thinner and Halle certainly has grabbed the better line-up for 2013 even with Rafael Nadal pulling out.  Let’s take a look at the draws…

ATP Queens 250
Andy Murray
Andy Murray makes his return to the tour having missed Roland Garros and entertained everyone on Twitter.  His first match of the tournament will be against Nicolas Mahut or Rhyne Williams; Murray lost at this same stage of the tournament last year, ironically to Mahut.  The Frenchman has a great game for the grass, but has been very quiet this year and has only played two tournaments away from France.  I think Murray will get through his first round, but I do not see him winning this year.  He often struggles after long lay-offs and I think he will fall to Michael Llodra in round three, who has the perfect serve-and-volley game to do some damage on the grass.  Lukas Rosol and Alexandr Dolgopolov are also in the first quarter of the draw and both have big games that could see them go deep in the draw.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is projected to meet Murray in the semi-finals and will open his 2013 grass court campaign against either Guillermo Rufin or Edouard Roger-Vasselin.  Tsonga should make the quarter-finals where he is likely to meet the winner of a section that should throw out a third round match between Benoit Paire and Kevin Anderson.  Both have had really solid years, but Anderson is the one I see going all the way to the final and beating Tsonga.  I have gone for quite a few surprises in Queens this year.  Why you ask? Well the past two years have thrown up a hefty amount of surprises with players taking time to make the transition between clay and grass and I have decided to take a few risks.

Juan Martin del Potro also makes his return to the tour having missed Roland Garros, but like Murray, I am not convinced he will make much of an impact.  Del Potro has never done that well on that grass and I think his first match, against either Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Xavier Malisse will be a really tough one.  Grigor Dimitrov is also in this section and could face Lleyton Hewitt in what would be one of the more interesting early matches.  The hype train around Dimitrov is still trundling along despite a limp third round exit to Novak Djokovic at RG, but don’t look past Sam Querrey in this third quarter; the American has won the title in 2010, made the semi-finals last year and is my tip for the semi-finals once more in 2013.

The final quarter features Tomas Berdych and last year’s champion, Marin Cilic.  The Croatian has a difficult draw because he could face his fellow compatriot in round two, Ivan Dodig, who upset Tsonga at Queens last year and holds a 2-1 head-to-head lead over Cilic.  Berdych’s draw looks so much better than the did one he drew at RG where he fell in the first round to Gael Monfils.  Berdych is likely to play Grega Zemlja in the third round, who is the number 16 seed in the draw.  Also look out for Julien Benneteau, who has a nice draw and could sweep up if Cilic does get knocked out early.
1st Round Predictions: Llodra to beat Andujar in 3 sets, Becker to beat Tomic in 2 tight sets, Istomin to beat Kuznetsov in 2 tight sets, Paire to beat Baker in 2 sets, Hewitt to beat Russell in 3 sets, Dimitrov to beat Sela in 2 tight sets, Nieminen to beat Harrison in 3 sets, Dodig to beat Ward in 3 sets, Lopez to beat Berankis in 3 sets and Benneteau to beat Mannarino in 2 tight sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Predictions:
Moo’s Final Prediction: T.Berdych d. K.Anderson
ATP Halle 250
Richard Gasquet
Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet are the top two seeds for this weeks tournament in Halle.  Federer, who is playing doubles with Tommy Haas this week, will play Cedrik Marcel Stebe or Jimmy Wang in the first round.  He could be in line for a Rome rematch with Jerzy Janowicz in the quarter-finals.  Tommy Haas, who will rise to number 11 in the world following his terrific run to the RG quarter-finals, is also back in Halle to defend the title he won last year.  His first match will be tricky against either Marcos Baghdatis or Ernests Gulbis in the second round.  Haas is projected to meet Milos Raonic in the quarters, but the Canadian will feature in the top first round match against the star of the first week of RG, Gael Monfils.  The big serving German, Daniel Brands is also in this section of the draw.

Gasquet opens his grass court season against Jurgen Melzer or Riccardo Ghedin and overall, has a pretty neat draw.  Florian Mayer may pose a threat in the quarter-finals as he did rather stun the Frenchman in the 4th round of Wimbledon last year.  Phillipp Kohlschreiber and Kei Nishikori are the seeds in the third section and apart from perhaps Mikhail Youzhny, both should make the quarters unscathed.  Following a rough period in March where he lost first round at Indian Wells and Miami, Kohlschreiber has been posting solid results and is my tip for this week’s final.
1st Round Predictions: Janowicz to beat Petzschner in 2 tight sets, Gulbis to beat Baghdatis in 3 sets, Monfils to beat Raonic in 3 sets, Kohlschreiber to beat Berlocq in 2 sets and Youzhny to beat Gimeno-Traver in 2 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Predictions:
Moo’s Final Prediction: R.Federer d. P.Kohlschreiber

You can also view my full predictions for Halle and Queens by clicking on the links for each tournament:

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