In less than an hour from now, Mr. Tennis, Roger Federer will be taking to court in Basel, Switzerland. This will be Federer’s first tournament since he announced his split with Paul Annacone. The tournament is critical in many ways for both Roger Federer and his legions of fans. In the short term, a title win will go a very long way in continuing Roger’s impressive 11 year streak* at the Year End Championships or as the wizards at ATP want us to call it – WTF. In the long term, it will keep the media from hurling more “R-word” questions at Federer.
Preview and Predictions
To me, Juan Martin Delpotro is the guy to beat this week. He is on a mighty impressive run which has seen him soar into the top 5 and tennis fans around the world hope this towering giant from Tandil will continue the good work and translate this into greater results – ranking and Slams wise. Delpotro will open his game against a wild card player, which he should navigate through without much trouble to set up one of the many exciting pre-quarterfinal matches, with Marcos Baghdatis. This is a tricky match that I think Delpotro will navigate in 3 sets.
In the other section of this quarter, Richard Gasquet will try to continue his good form from Russia, where he won a title last week. Gasquet’s path takes him through two fellow-country men – Michael Llodra and possibly, Paul- Henri Mathieu. I pick Gasquet to get through those two matches and give us a wonderful quarterfinal match with Delpotro.
Prediction: Delpotro to get to the semis, outlasting Gasquet in 3 sets.
Wawrinka has the easiest draw of the top 4 and he should sail effortlessly into the quarters here. I am not even going to qualify this quarter with any kind of anylysis. No offence to the other hard-working tennis players who are in this draw including Andreas Seppi, but this is a quarter that Wawrinka should boss around.
Prediction: Wawrinka to get to the semis without losing a set.
This is the all important quarter where Roger Federer resides. Federer opens his campaign against Adrian Mannarino and his draw gets immediately nasty, as early as the pre-quarters where he has to play, most likely, Dennis Istomin. This a unpleasantly-super-smooth banana skin of a match for Federer and I have half a heart to pick Istomin. I am going to pick Federer in 3 sets in this match.
In the other section is “Baby Fed” [sorry Grigor, it is either that or Mr. Sharapova] Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov is coming off a impressive win in Stockholm where he displayed some much needed steel that the entire tennis world has been expecting him to show-case. Dimitrov is now a legitimate threat to the top players, all the more so if you are a Champion fighting against time like Federer. Dimitrov has to face some legitimate threats himself in Stepanek and possibly, Dolgopolov. Either of those two players can take Dimitrov out, but let me buy myself some serious Dimitrov stock, right now. Dimitrov to the quarters.
Prediction: Dimitrov to drive a dagger through the heart of Federer nation with a 3 set win.
Berdych starts his campaign against the tennis giant that is Mr. Karlovic. This is THE group of death quarter. I really have no idea who to go with, but I will put my faith in Berdych to continue his latest consistent results. There are going to be a lot of tie-breaks here and a lot of old-school 1990s tennis where Serve is the King! Berdych should get through Ivo Karlovic, possibly, Pospisil and reach the quarters a very tired man.
In the other section, Kei Nishikori, the 2011 finalist starts his campaign against Chiudinelli and should get through that to get to the next round match with, possibly Dodig. In a minor upset, I will take Dodig to make the quarterfinal in 3 sets.
Prediction: Berdych to make the semi-finals with a straight set win over Dodig.
Semifinals: Delpotro in 3 and Berdych in straight sets.
Finals: I give you the 2013 Swiss Open Champ Juan Martin Delpotro in 2 tight sets!
* Roger Federer has won 6 titles, 2 Finals and 2 semi-finals during this streak.