Doha, Brisbane, and Chennai previews and predictions

Well, that was fast.

If it feels like the offseason did not last very long, it’s because it didn’t. In fact, the Davis Cup final was just last month. So were the World Tour Finals. It’s not even 2014 quite yet, but the 2014 tennis campaign is set to begin. And it will begin with a bang, as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Stanislas Wawrinka, and Richard Gasquet are all entered in either Doha, Brisbane, or Chennai.

Qatar ExxonMobil Open

Where: Doha, Qatar
Surface: Hard
Prize money: $1,195,500
Points: 250

Top seed: Rafael Nadal
Defending champion: Richard Gasquet

Draw analysis: Get your popcorn ready for Nadal’s first match of the season. It may not be a competitive one, but it will generate headlines no matter what. That’s because first up for the world No. 1 is Lukas Rosol, the man who conquered him at Wimbledon in 2012. Rosol captured his first career ATP title last season in Bucharest, but other than that he has mostly been a disaster since his watershed moment against Nadal. A difficult draw for the top seed could feature Ernests Gulbis in the quarterfinals and Berdych in the semis. Berdych has a tough first-round matchup on his hands against Ivo Karlovic.

Speaking of rough draws, Gasquet’s title defense should begin with a virtual walkover past Egyptian wild card Karim Hossam before getting tricky. An all-French affair between Gasquet and Gael Monfils is likely for the second round before a possible rematch of a 2013 U.S. Open quarterfinal five-setter between Gasquet and Ferrer. Murray, who is taking his talents from Brisbane to Doha, finds himself in a friendly section in which he could meet Wimbledon quarterfinal opponent Fernando Verdasco in the last eight.

First-round upset alert: Ivo Karlovic over (4) Tomas Berdych. Berdych should be able to get through this one, but he knows to be wary of Karlovic. The 6’11’’ Croat (yes, one of the great offseason mysteries is that both Karlovic and John Isner grew an inch apiece according to the ATP website) is 3-2 lifetime against Berdych, with a pair of third-set tiebreaker wins in Basel (15-13 in 2007 and 7-2 this fall). If Karlovic’s serve is working, he is obviously presents extreme danger to anyone on any given day.

Hot: Rafael Nadal, Richard Gasquet, Joao Sousa, Michal Przysiezny

Cold: Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Lukas Rosol, Florian Mayer, Nikolay Davydenko, Alexandr Dolgopolov

Semifinal predictions: Rafael Nadal over Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray over David Ferrer

Final: Nadal over Ferrer

Brisbane International

Where: Brisbane, Australia
Surface: Hard
Prize money: $452,670
Points: 250

Top seed: Roger Federer
2013 champion: Andy Murray

Draw analysis: With Nadal out of Doha last season, Brisbane boasted top honors as cream of the crop. It pales in comparison to its fellow year-opener this time around, but it is at least getting a rare appearance from Federer. The 32-year-old Swiss has not played in this event since 2000, when it was held in Adelaide. His path appears to be a favorable one, with unseeded floaters like Lleyton Hewitt, Marin Cilic, and Denis Istomin on the opposite side of the bracket. Federer could run into Julien Benneteau in the quarterfinals and Kevin Anderson in the semis.

The other half is enticing, setting up nicely for Hewitt to make a run in front of his Aussie fans. He could meet Gilles Simon, who beat him in five sets at the 2013 French Open, in the last eight. Cilic, who returned briefly at the end of last season from a drug-related suspension, has an intriguing matchup with Istomin on his hands. Meanwhile, an all-Aussie showdown pits Nick Kyrgios against Matthew Ebden for the right to battle Kei Nishikori.

First-round upset alert: Sam Querrey over (7) Dmitry Tursunov. Tursunov is coming off a solid season that was—most importantly—free of injury. But who knows what kind of shape or mood the mercurial Russian will be in as we turn the page for a new year. This is a matchup between two ball-bashers who like to keep points short with huge serves and forehands. Querrey will be eager to start strong after a mostly disappointing performance in 2013.

Hot: Grigor Dimitrov, Dmitry Tursunov, Nicolas Mahut

Cold: Kei Nishikori, Gilles Simon, Kevin Anderson, Igor Sijsling, Marin Cilic

Semifinals: Roger Federer over Kevin Anderson and Lleyton Hewitt over Marin Cilic

Final: Federer over Hewitt

Aircel Chennai Open

Where: Chennai, India
Surface: Hard
Prize money: $459,140
Points: 250

Top seed: Stanislas Wawrinka
2013 champion: Janko Tipsarevic

Draw analysis: Chennai loves itself some Janko Tipsarevic, whose prolonged slump has continued with a late withdrawal from the tournament. On the bright side, Chennai also loves itself some Wawrinka, who is the top seed in singles and once again teaming up with Benoit Paire in doubles (they captured the 2012 title). So all is not lost. Additionally, top Indian player Somdev Devvarman has an opportunistic draw ahead of him. Devvarman opens with a qualifier before potentially going up against Marcel Granollers and then Paire. No. 2 seed and 2008 champion Mikhail Youzhny (who obliterated Nadal 6-0, 6-1 in the final that year) should cruise through a relatively soft bottom quarter of the bracket to face either Devvarman or Paire.

Wawrinka, the recipient of an opening-round bye along with Youzhny, Fabio Fognini, and Paire, awaits either Benjamin Becker or Julian Reister. The Swiss should not have any trouble until likely facing either Fognini or Vasek Pospisil in the semifinals. Pospisil is looking to build on a breakout 2013 campaign that has him seeded fifth in Chennai and in play for an Australian Open seed at No. 32 in the world.

First-round upset alert: Albert Ramos over (7) Edouard Roger-Vasselin. This one may not necessarily happen, but there is no other choice for an upset alert in the Chennai opening round. Ramos digressed a bit in 2013, currently registering at No. 83 in the world. The offseason did not come at a great time for Roger-Vasselin, whose fine form last season continued throughout the fall. He reached the Tokyo second round as a qualifier and made it to the semifinals in Basel.

Hot: Stanislas Wawrinka, Mikhail Youzhny, Fabio Fognini, Vasek Pospisil, Pablo Carreno Busta, Tim Smyczek, Jiri Vesely

Cold: Albert Ramos, Dudi Sela, Lukas Lacko

Semifinals: Stanislas Wawrinka over Vasek Pospisil and Mikhail Youzhny over Somdev Devvarman

Final: Youzhny over Wawrinka

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

45 Comments on Doha, Brisbane, and Chennai previews and predictions

  1. By the time Rafa gets to Oz he will be sick to the back teeth of Rosol! He plays Rosol first match in the singles and guess who he is playing first match in the dubs…….Rosol and Andujar!

    All Rafa needs is to have Rosol in his quarter at AO 2014 and the hat-trick will be well and truly served……

    Seriously though, praying for Davydenko to be in Rafa’s quarter in Oz so we can right that pesky H2H…..

  2. I hope Rafa sends Rosol packing in Doha, I’m sick of the taunting by Fedfans.

    I will be in Doha from Thursday to Saturday. I don’t want to leave my daughter and her family in Dubai over the NY and go to Qatar. I hope Rafa will still be in when I get there. I will send more inside info when I get there plus some pictures.

    I think Rafa knows me now. He must have thought I was stalking him, because where ever he was, I was right there. The real Rafa absolutely lived up to my expectations.

  3. Semifinal predictions: Rafael Nadal over Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray over David Ferrer
    Final: Nadal over Ferrer??

    typo in the final’s pick or the second semi’s?

    • @vamosrafa
      Your final cannot be,,,, as you have picked Andy over Ferru……;) However, he may well beat Andy. Haven’t seen enough of him to tell yet. I hope he gets as many matches in as possible b4 AO.

      • no no duecy, these are not my picks! I just copy pasted those from Ricky’s preview above to identify a mistake ! lol…

  4. Can’t find any television coverage for Doha in the States. Tennis Channel is covering Brisbane, Chennai, and Hopman Cup, but not Doha even though they covered Doha last year. Nothing on any of the ESPN channels either, so it looks like I’ll be watching Doha over the Internet via a stream.

    • Jpacnw,

      I don’t know who your cable provider is, but I was checking the upcoming schedule on my tv and saw another channel right after the tennis channel that is broadcasting Doha. They were showing an English soccer match when I checked, but the listing indicates that they will be showing Doha from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm pacific time and will then broadcast matches from 3:00 am to noon.

      I think the name of the channel is Ben Sports or something. I don’t know if this is a new channel on my U-Verse cable, but at this point I am just happy that there is a channel broadcasting the tournament. It made no sense to me that Doha would be the only tournament not shown. I wonder if there is something going on about certain channels having sole broadcasting rights.

      You might want to check your program listing on your tv to see if you have it on another channel.

  5. Saw the highlights of Rafa vsTsonga match on YT. Rafa hit some crazy FH DTL in that match, but found his movement a bit slow esp to this forehand side. Hope hes working on his movement.

    • ^^^^
      Yes, I finally got to see it a day late on the tennis channel. I think Rafa’s timing was a bit off on the forehand in this match. It’s to be expected, given that this is his first tournament in preparation for the new tennis year.

      I did see him running back on court at one point with the score 7-6, 4-3 up a break and there seemed to be a bit of a limp. The commentators made mention of it and said that they hoped it was nothing to worry about. I don’t know what to make of it. I promised myself that I wouldn’t go crazy over every little thing I see in Rafa’s matches. But I wonder if that might have been why he seemed a bit slow on the forehand site.

      I did like seeing him take advantage of good opportunities to go to net for some great volleys. He did seem to be playing aggressive tennis, looking to move into the court to close out points and getting good court position on the baseline.

      I don’t like to read too much into this exho match. It’s not as though Rafa was going all out here. I think he has his eyes set on the 2014 AO.

      I think Rafa played a good match with Tsonga. I didn’t bother to watch his match against Ferrer. Now it’s on to Doha!

      • I saw the limp by Rafa but it only lasted a few seconds. When I was watching him in practice, he seemed to twist his left foot and I was a bit concerned, but it turned out to be nothing.

  6. Excited for the new season to start but it’s kind of BS they couldn’t at least wait 3 freaking days for it to actually be 2014 before commencing.

  7. haha….yeah its funny the 2014 season has started even though 2014 has not started!! lol..

    @NNY, a good evaluation of the match !!

  8. Q. Why does Andy find it easy to beat Karlovic and hard to beat Berd while Kalovic seems to find it easy to beat Berd?
    A: to Mr Ivan Lendl asap please.

  9. Dec 30@11:34 pm

    – Boris looks like a beached whale–

    lol. love it!

    Still trying to work out what exactly BB will bring to the table.
    Any bets on how long this arrangement will last?

  10. Muzza still rusty, gets bumped by Mayer, a tricky customer anyways. Muzza needs matches before AO. He is still in the dubs but wonder if he should ditch that and seek a singles wild card into the other tourneys down under pre AO……..on the other hand, he really should not play the week before the Slam……..

  11. Hope it is just rust, he had ice packs on his back at the end. He was winning so easily and then collapsed: timing, serve etc all went down the drain.
    I have no expectations for the AO and unfortunately Andy has huge number of points to defend.

    • ^^^Make he should take the nuclear option: ditch Oz and make a low-key start in some SA tourney and build up from there. I mean, if his back is flaring up in a best of 3, how is it gonna hold up in best of 5? My understnading in Mayer really wen for Muzza;s back with lot’s of drop shots………………

  12. RT @nseverino: “@RafaelNadal The ultimate “Tennis Spartan” Rafa- “Losing is not my enemy… fear of losing is my enemy” Said like a true #fighter”

  13. Not watching the match, just following on livescores………….looks like Rafa’s return game is in the toilet……….needs to improve.

Comments are closed.

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