Dubai, Acapulco, and Sao Paulo previews and predictions

Outside of Grand Slams, it does not get any bigger than the next five weeks on the ATP World Tour. Prior to Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami, top players will be fine-tuning their games in Dubai and Acapulco…and to a much lesser extent in Sao Paulo.

Reigning Australian Open champion Roger Federer headlines the Dubai field along with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, took a late wild card into Acapulco, thus joining Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, and Juan Martin Del Potro. Sao Paulo will be forgotten by comparison, but its title looks completely up for grabs with no one in the top 20 in the draw.

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Where: Dubai, U.A.E.
Surface: Hard
Points
: 500
Prize money
: $2,429,150

Top seed: Andy Murray
Defending champion: Stan Wawrinka

Draw analysis: Federer and Pouille enjoyed a well-publicized Dubai practice session during the offseason and now a head-to-head showdown could be in the cards in the same city. With Federer having not played since capturing the Aussie Open title and Pouille coming off a runner-up performance this past week in Marseille, they find themselves in the same quarter of a stacked Dubai draw. Neither one should have any trouble advancing to the last eight, although Federer’s opener against Benoit Paire could be tricky at times–“at times” likely meaning a couple of games. It is hard to see a highly-anticipated semifinal battle between Federer and Murray being denied by anyone in the top half of the bracket.

On the other side, Wawrinka, Gael Monfils, and Tomas Berdych should coast into the semis. At least on paper, the only seed whose weekend spot is in serious jeopardy is Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard is 0-1 lifetime against first-round adversary Karen Khachanov and Fernando Verdasco likely awaits in the last 16. One of the more intriguing opening-round affairs pits Dan Evans against Dustin Brown.

First-round upset alert: Philipp Kohlschreiber over (8) Gilles Muller. Muller captured his long-awaited first career title in Sydney, but he is a mediocre 4-4 in his other four tournaments this season. Kohlschreiber, who is a decent 6-4 in 2017, is an impressive returner so he generally fares well against big servers. The German is 2-0 lifetime against Muller and 4-0 in total sets.

Hot: Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dan Evans

Cold: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Florian Mayer, Jiri Vesely, Marcel Granollers

Quarterfinal predictions: Andy Murray over Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Federer over Lucas Pouille, Roberto Bautista Agut over Gael Monfils, and Stan Wawrinka over Tomas Berdych

Semifinals: Murray over Federer and Wawrinka over Bautista Agut

Final: Murray over Wawrinka

Abierto Mexicano Telcel

Where: Acapulco, Mexico
Surface: Hard
Points
: 500
Prize money
: $1,491,310

Top seed: Novak Djokovic
Defending champion: Dominic Thiem

Draw analysis: This is as good as it gets in Acapulco. Djokovic took a late wild card into the tournament to make the field even more eye-popping, and Martin Klizan sure wishes he hadn’t. Djokovic’s entry could spell similar bad news for Del Potro, who will likely go up against Djokovic in the second round if the world No. 2 gets past Klizan. A stacked top section is also home to Bernard Tomic, Marseille semifinalist Nick Kyrgios, and Delray Beach semifinalist Donald Young. As for the other quarter in the top half, Thiem may not be playing on his favorite surface but he is the defending champion of this tournament and his confidence must be restored thanks to his Rio title on Sunday. The 23-year-old Austrian, who will open against Gilles Simon, could face good friend and familiar foe David Goffin the last eight.

Nadal has an easier road at the other end of the bracket, although Mischa Zverev is no pushover in round one. After all, the veteran German recently took down Murray during his incredible run to the Aussie Open quarterfinals. Still, Nadal should cruise into the last eight before likely meeting Auckland and Delray Beach champion Jack Sock. The American is on fire but also relatively untested in 2017 aside from his Melbourne loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, so a showdown with Nadal in a battle to see can hit his forehand with more revolutions per minute would be good gauge of Sock’s true form. In the third section of the draw, seeds Marin Cilic (vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov) and John Isner (vs. Steve Johnson) have tough openers on their hands.

First-round upset alert: Steve Johnson over (8) John Isner. These two friends, Davis Cup teammates, and former college stars could not be more competitive against each other. The overall head-to-head series stands at 4-3 in favor of Isner. Their last three contests have ended in tiebreakers (two in final-set ‘breakers), four of their last six sets have required tiebreakers, and exactly half (nine of 18) of their sets have culminated in tiebreakers. Johnson has won two in a row at Isner’s expense via less than surprising scorelines: 7-6(7), 7-6(15) a summer ago in Washington, D.C. and 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3) last month in Auckland.

Hot: Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, Jack Sock, Donald Young, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Mischa Zverev

Cold: Marin Cilic, Bernard Tomic, Martin Klizan, Adrian Mannarino, Stephane Robert, Borna Coric

Quarterfinal predictions: Novak Djokovic over Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem over David Goffin, Marin Cilic over Steve Johnson, and Rafael Nadal over Jack Sock

Semifinals: Djokovic over Thiem and Nadal over Cilic

Final: Djokovic over Nadal

Brasil Open

Where: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Surface: Clay
Points: 250
Prize money
: $455,565

Top seed: Pablo Carreno Busta
Defending champion: Pablo Cuevas

Draw analysis: With Thiem going back to hard courts to defend his Acapulco title, Rio de Janeiro runner-up Pablo Carreno Busta is the No. 1 seed and has to be considered the title favorite. Carreno Busta’s Golden Swing already features a semifinal showing in Buenos Aires in addition to his Rio final appearance, so a continuation of that trend would take him to the winner’s trophy. Potential quarterfinal opponent Fabio Fognini and possible semifinal foe Pablo Cuevas may have other ideas. Cuevas’ relatively tough quarter of the bracket also includes Diego Schwartzman, Thomaz Bellucci, and Victor Estrella Burgos.

Carreno Busta booked his spot in the Rio title match after saving a match point in the semis against Casper Ruud, who earned a special exemption spot in Sao Paulo thanks to his amazing run last week. Ruud has a navigable path through the draw, possibly set to face Federico Delbonis in round two and Joao Sousa in the quarters. No. 2 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas could eventually run into the winner of first-round showdown between Carlos Berlocq and Brazil’s own Thiago Monteiro.

First-round upset alert: Thomaz Bellucci over (6) Diego Schwartzman. Playing at home in Brazil for a second consecutive week, Bellucci had to face the No. 1 seed in Rio de Janeiro and upset Kei Nishikori right off the bat. A win over Schwartzman, of course, would be far less notable—and far more expected. The Argentine is in decent form and registers at career-high of 44th in the world, but a Brazilian crowd can never be discounted as a real factor when one of its own is on the court.

Hot: Pablo Carreno Busta, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Victor Estrella Burgos, Jozef Kovalik, Casper Ruud

Cold: Pablo Cuevas, Joao Sousa, Inigo Cervantes, Guido Pella

Semifinal predictions: Fabio Fognini over Thomaz Bellucci and Albert Ramos-Vinolas over Federico Delbonis

Final: Fognini over Ramos-Vinolas

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

 

46 Comments on Dubai, Acapulco, and Sao Paulo previews and predictions

  1. Brazil:

    No Top 20 players. Who cares.

    Winner: Unpredictable.

    Dubai:

    CryBaby has a relatively easy path to the final with only Berdych in his way.

    On the other side, Murray and Fed have straight forward paths to a potential meeting in the semis.

    Murray has had an auspicious start as World No. 1 coming off a bad AO and now just recovering from a bout of shingles no less.

    Federer was arguably in his best form ever in Australia after a long layoff and has won last FIVE vs Murray losing just one set in a tiebreak) including Cincy just six months ago. Murray hasn’t beaten Fed in over FOUR years.

    No sign of this trend changing on another relatively fast condition tournament so until then…

    Look for another all Swiss final.

    WINNER: Federer

    Acapulco:

    Same approach. Rafa is simply in better form than Nole in 2017 with a small sample size admittedly for Rafa but a much larger sample size for Nole going back to last year’s Wimbledon failure. And given that it usually takes Rafa some time to shake off the rust which wasn’t even necessary to reach the final this year, that bodes well for him here.

    Nole could get in succession Klizan, Delpo, Kyrgios and Thiem/Goffin. Wow.

    Rafa has a cuppy cake draw relatively speaking to be fair. Usually the other way around.

    I’ll take the field over Nole in Nole’s half and Rafa over the field in the final even if it happens to be Nole.

    It’s time.

    Winner: Nadal.

    #Vamos!

    • Well, I care about Sao Paulo, but as you know I like many of the less elite as much, or sometiimes more, than the top ten. Picked PCB v Ruud. One foot on the Ruud bandwagon. Fognini?? I could happen – I’ll be surprised considering his condition recently but he can flip.

      And I couldn’t pick Federer — just couldn’t. I’m in denial and his draw is trickier than it looks. Also guessing Pouille or someone more match hardened like, Pouille, could beat him. I have an Andy vs Stan final — which isn’t good either.

      Picked Rafa to win Acapulco.

      • You are one serious tennis fan rc! You are one of the non-gambling fans that are I would guess.

        I’d be more interested if there was a Canadian such as a Shapovalov, FAA, Popsicle for instance but with the other two bigger 500s. I’d like to see how Ruud does but other than that, meh.

        As for Fed, he’s about to lay a baguette on Paire LOL. Crushing it.

        • ? haha that’s how it goes with my French also. I can say some cool words and string together a phrase or two but when it comes to speaking in a meaningful way. no.

          Suddenly it occurs to me that maybe Benoit, along with his other problems, also has too much respect for Federer. There for the handshake. Pouille will take it to him …even tho they are practice partners a lot.

          Oh dear, unsportsmanlike conduct to Benoit. Hate to see him deteriorate like that. Moody artist at work.

        • Oh, I’d be wagering on Tennis, Hawk. But I’m too shrewd. I’m always tempted though. Luckily, I don’t live near Vegas.

  2. Ricky: “Nadal has an easier road at the other end of the bracket, although Mischa Zverev is no pushover in round one. After all, the veteran German recently took down Murray during his incredible run to the Aussie Open quarterfinals.”
    ___________________

    Rather than refer to what Mischa did to Murray at the AO, why not quote his match against Nadal in Brisbane this year when Nadal beat him 61 61. Not that it’s any guarantee for what will happen this time round, but I would have thought that Mischa’s previous meeting with Nadal was more relevant than his meeting with Murray.

    • MA,

      Thanks for the link!

      I think Rafa has a good draw. I am not concerned about Mischa. Novak has the much tougher road.

      I am looking forward to seeing Rafa in a action again in a much more friendly tone for me!

        • rc,

          I haven’t made my picks yet. Can I still do it? Could you post the link again because I was checking the topic threads and couldn’t find it.

        • rc!!!Clearly my heart and my kneecap picked made a bad job in my Dubai bracket!They KO’d me in 3 early matches!!he he he…

          Nny!!…You’re already make a pick for Acapulco?It’s a shame you didn’t make a pick for Dubai…i’m really looking forward for you to join us there Nny!!But that’s okay…for IW..we do it together okay?

            • rc!…I forgot to tell u..there’s a poster named Amit on TX…is it okay with u,i asked him to join our group for next tournament..sorry,i should ask u first before doing that….sorry rc!

          • OH so here’s the post …I went looking for it!
            You don’t have to ask me first! You might warn me if it’s Wog Boy or some sort, lol…

            So…how does picking with your kneecap work?

      • Nny!!You’re welcome!…Yeah Nny,rafa has good draw,i hope he can go all the way to the final…VAMOS RAFA!!!WOOOHOOO!!!

        • Sorry guys! I didn’t get back in the site in time to find out that I only had three hours. I will have to wait for IW.
          ?

          • That’s alright Nny…we do it together for IW okay!Looking forward to work together with u ma’am!..U can count on me!

  3. Dubai:
    QF-
    Murray over Muller (obviously can’t happen now that Gilles already lost?)
    Federer over Pouille
    Monfils over Verdasco
    Wawrinka over Berdych
    SF:
    Federer over Murray
    Wawrinka over Monfils
    Final:
    Federer over Wawrinka

  4. Acapulco:
    QF-
    Kyrgios over Del Potro
    Thiem over Goffin
    Isner over Coric (again can’t happen now that Big John is already out?)
    Nadal over Sock
    SF-
    Kyrgios over Thiem
    Nadal over Isner (again can’t happen?)
    Final-
    Kyrgios over Nadal

  5. São Paulo:
    QF-
    Carreno Busta over Fognini
    Bellucci over Cuevas
    Ruud over Olivo
    Ramos-Vinolas over Monteiro
    SF-
    Bellucci over Carreno Busta
    Ramos-Vinolas over Ruud
    Final-
    Bellucci over Ramos-Vinolas

  6. I thought about having Bellucci going far ,in the end I went for Schwartzman instead.PCb winning over RV.
    Also put Cuevas out early to Lajovic.
    Acapulco: Had Isner going far,thought it was high bouncing so suited him.Nadal winning over Djokovic.
    Dubai:Fed over Stan.

  7. Oh My God!is it upsets in the making in Dubai?Stan is on the verge to going out to Dzumhur atm!Wow!…I never saw this coming…Tennis sure is crazy nowadays!!

    • Yeah, Dzumhur is dangerous! He also knocked out Rafa in his first match at Miami last year. Rafa was unwell no doubt, due to the humidity but Dzumhur did play well to win in the end.

      • He seems to be maxed out in terms of ranking in the 70s.

        I guess he must not have the consistency week in and week out but when he’s on his game, top players are at risk when not at their best. To be fair, CB is just coming back from a knee injury from what I’ve read.

        Berdych against Rosol today – it will be hard to tell who’s who LOL.

        • Yes, I was just about to check their h2h because I didn’t think Dzumhur had ever beaten Rafa, I remember them playing and Rafa having lots pf problems, I think with the heat.

  8. Nadal Retires Against Dzumhur In Miami
    MAR 26 2016

    ATP Staff

    Bosnian advances in difficult conditions

    Rafael Nadal was forced to retire against Damir Dzumhur on a hot and muggy Saturday at the Miami Open presented by Itau. Dzumhur, No. 94 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, was up 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 in the second-round match when the Spaniard was unable to continue. Dzumhur had never beaten a Top-10 player in five previous attempts.

    “Everything was fine until the end of the first set,” Nadal said. “Then I started to feel dizzy, not very good. It was getting worse and worse. Finally, in the second set, I realised that I could not keep playing.

    “I wanted to finish the match, but I seriously could not. It was tough, because I felt I was playing well. I had good practices after a great week in Indian Wells. I stopped because I was concerned for my health, and I could not finish the match the way I was feeling.”

    Despite its final outcome, the match did not start auspiciously for Dzumhur. The Bosnian faced 12 break points in losing the one-sided opening set, and was the first to request the trainer. The 23 year old was visibly affected by Miami’s heat and humidity, but soldiered on after receiving assistance during the changeover.

    Nadal was unable to capitalise on Dzumhur’s discomfort. After breezing through his service games in the opening set, the left-hander won only 50 per cent of first-serve points the rest of the way (11/22) and was broken four times in as many opportunities in the last two sets. An ailing Nadal called for the trainer twice before retiring after an hour and 50 minutes. The Spaniard, a four-time finalist in Miami, will have to wait another year to capture the elusive title.

    “It’s definitely not the way I wanted to finish,” Dzumhur said. “It was really tough to play today. I also felt tired, heavy, and in some moments dizzy on the court. In the first set we played a very long second game. After that game I felt I could not run that well.

    “Between the first and second sets, I calle a medical time-out. I was really thinking about retirement, but just said to myself, ‘I’m playing Rafa. I don’t have a chance to play these guys every day. I want to enjoy this moment.’ So I tried to continue.”

    In the third round, Dzumhur will face Mikhail Kukushkin, who advanced when Thomaz Bellucci retired at 7-5, 3-6. The Kazakh, No. 90 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, is into the third round in Miami for the first time. His previous third-round appearance in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event dates back to Indian Wells 2014 (l. to Lopez).

    http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/dzumhur-outlasts-nadal-miami-2016

  9. Pretty much since their 2015 Roland Garros match, I’ve been unwilling to pick Rafa to beat Novak in any of their matches. But if we end up with a Rafa/Novak final in Acapulco, I just have this feeling that Rafa will finally beat him again. I know it’s more likely that it would happen on a clay court. I just have this feeling, though…

  10. Stan out already? He really does seem to save it for the slams.

    Regarding Rafa possibly meeting Novak in the final in Acapulco, I would welcome it. St some point, Rafa will need to face him. He has to find a way to take on Novak and get a win. That will maybe break the mental damage done by the recent string of losses. At least Rafa is playing well again.

  11. Gosh, It makes it hard for me to think about Rafa Nole final because Rafa still has this mental barrier to lose the match when he is up a break…I thought Rafa would not lose the AO final when he was leading in the fifth and yet his game collapsed in crucial moments to bring Fed back into the match.,,people believe they could beat Rafa…Misha will too…I really think Rafa’s is nearing his top form again, but he as well needs to be mentally strong all the way…small lapses and it’s all over for him…and here I am talking about his possible clash with Nole..,

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