Rotterdam, New York, and Buenos Aires previews and predictions

One month. Four weeks. Twelve tournaments. Such is February on the ATP Tour.

Arguably the second best of the four weeks is coming up, with tournaments in Rotterdam, New York, and Buenos Aires. It has the possibility of generating more headlines than any other week in February, as Roger Federer is waging an unexpected assault on the No. 1 ranking. Federer took a late wild card into Rotterdam, where has not played since 2013, and he will become the oldest man to be No. 1 in the world if he advances to the semifinals.

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament

Where: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Surface: Indoor hard
Points: 500
Prize money
: 1,862,925 Euros

Top seed: Roger Federer
2017 champion: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (not playing)

Draw analysis: At a strong 500-point event, Federer is not an absolute lock to reach the semis. Still, though, based on current form he is a considerable favorite to make it that far—and to win the entire tournament. The 36-year-old Swiss will open with a qualifier before possibly running into Karen Khachanov in round two and compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka’s post-knee injury struggles are well-documented, and he is coming off a loss to Mirza Basic in the Sofia semis. Things may start getting tough for Federer in the semifinals, with Alexander Zverev among his potential opponents.

On the other side of the draw, David Goffin (who upset Federer at the Nitto ATP Finals) and Tomas Berdych (who lost to Federer in the Australian Open quarterfinals) are on a collision course for the Rotterdam quartefinals. Goffin, the runner-up in 2017, is coming off a semifinal showing in Montpellier. Meanwhile, Grigor Dimitrov’s quarter of the bracket includes current finalists Lucas Pouille (Montpellier) and Marius Copil (Sofia) in addition to Andrey Rublev.

First-round upset alert: Andrey Rublev over (7) Lucas Pouille. Pouille will be making a quick turnaround following his appearance in the Montpellier final on Sunday. And it was a final he had no business being in, having gotten a retirement from Tsonga—who got injured while leading by a set and 5-3 in the second. An in-form Rublev, meanwhile, has not slowed down since reaching the U.S. Open quarterfinals last summer.

Hot: Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, Richard Gasquet, Andrey Rublev, Marius Copil

Cold: Alexander Zverev, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Feliciano Lopez, Mischa Zverev

Quarterfinal predictions: Roger Federer over Robin Haase, Alexander Zverev over Gilles Muller, David Goffin over Tomas Berdych, and Andrey Rublev over Grigor Dimitrov

Semifinals: Federer over Zverev and Goffin over Rublev

Final: Federer over Goffin

New York Open

Where: New York, New York
Surface: Indoor hard
: 250
Prize money
: $668,460

Top seed: Kevin Anderson
Defending champion: None (inaugural event)

Draw analysis: It’s not often that Kei Nishikori has to play in the first round of a 250-point tournament, when the top four seeds get byes. But that is the case in New York, where the Japanese star is back in ATP-level action for the first time since his ridiculous loss to Gael Monfils at the Montreal Masters last August. Nishikori, who was plagued by a wrist injury, made two recent Challenger appearances and lost in the first round in Newport Beach before winning the Dallas title. Nishikori’s status as the No. 5 seed is bad news for opening foe Noah Rubin and also for third-seeded John Isner, who could face the former world No. 4 in the quarterfinals. Isner and Nishikori are potential semifinal adversaries for No. 1 seed Kevin Anderson.

A weaker bottom half is American-heavy (which, it must be said, is the main reason why it is weaker). It includes Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison Steve Johnson, Donald Young, and Jared Donaldson. Among that group, only Harrison—who is kind of the defending champion, having triumphed last year in Memphis—is in particularly good form. Harrison’s draw is not an easy one, with Young in the first round, likely Ivo Karlovic in the last 16, and potentially Querrey in the quarters.

First-round upset alert: Dudi Sela over (8) Nikoloz Basilashvili. Sela generally likes indoor conditions and can perform well on relatively fast surfaces. He plays on top of the baseline and can feed off opponents’ pace, especially because he has a hard time generating his own. Basilashvili benefited from a favorable draw to reach the Australian Open third round, but for the most part he has struggled of late and he has the pressure of defending runner-up points from last year in Memphis.

Hot: Ryan Harrison, Mackenzie McDonald, Sebastian Korda

Cold: Kevin Anderson, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Kei Nishikori, Mikhail Youzhny, Jeremy Chardy, Victor Estrella Burgos

Semifinal predictions: Kei Nishikori over Kevin Anderson and Adrian Mannarino over Ryan Harrison

Final: Nishikori over Mannarino

Argentina Open

Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Surface: Clay
: 250
Prize money
: $568,190

Top seed: Dominic Thiem
2017 champion: Alexandr Dolgopolov (not playing)

Draw analysis: Dominic Thiem is in danger of becoming a clay-court specialist, and the stigma will be even more accurate if he takes care of business in Buenos Aires. The two-time French Open semifinalist did the Quito field a favor by deciding not to show up on the Golden Swing until week two, and now his presence is obviously bad news for everyone else in Buenos Aires. Depending on which Fernando Verdasco shows up, Thiem may encounter some trouble starting in the quarterfinals. Something similar can be said of Fabio Fognini, who is even more mercurial than Verdasco and could become the sixth-ranked Austrian’s semifinal opponent.

In the bottom half of the bracket, Albert Ramos-Vinolas will be aiming for a second consecutive final appearance (currently playing in Quito). Ramos-Vinolas and fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta are the clay-court class of this side of the draw, although Australian Open semifinalist Kyle Edmund is more than capable of playing well on the slow stuff. Edmund has a tough opener on his hands in the form of another Spaniard and another current Quito finalist, Roberto Carballes Baena.

First-round upset alert: (SE) Roberto Carballes Baena over (6) Kyle Edmund. This will be Carballes Baena’s sixth clay-court match of the season. It will, of course, be Edmund’s first. The 26th-ranked Brit has not played since his run to the Australian Open semifinals. Carballes Baena has the Quito final on Sunday so he will be making a quick turnaround, but the trip is a short one and he should not have to play against Edmund until Wednesday.

Hot: Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Kyle Edmund, Roberto Carballes Baena

Cold: Gael Monfils, Florian Mayer, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez

Semifinal predictions: Dominic Thiem over Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman over Pablo Carreno Busta

Final: Thiem over Schwartzman

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

6 Comments on Rotterdam, New York, and Buenos Aires previews and predictions

  1. Bold call on Niskikori, even if it is a 250. I haven’t seen him, though, and you obviously think he’s getting back to form.

    I have pretty much the same picks for Rotterdam. If Fed makes it to the final against Goffin, I think he’ll have a little revenge motivation.

  2. I think Goffin is the choice for the final against Fed , but tough choice between Rublev and Dimitrov as his semifinal opponent.

    I guess its the ‘cold’ Sasha in the other semi, esp.if Gasquet wins Montpellier, he might lose early/withdraw here.
    Looks like Tsonga already has .

    Fed to win the whole thing.

    Problem I’m having , theres far too many matches and not enough time to think about them all!

  3. Slightly worried about Fed in Rotterdam. After the AO 2017, he had a slight lapse playing Donskoy. I hope it doesn’t happen here with the extra pressure of number one

  4. It’s going to be a great week for tennis on tv! I like Sasha to win R’dam (but hope Fed gets to Semis!); The Big dawg to win NY ( and yes…sad to say, we are the “weak” Americans); and Diego in Argentina.

  5. Rotterdam –
    Federer over Wawrinka
    Zverev over Gasquet
    Goffin over Berdych
    Dimitrov over Rublev
    Federer over Zverev
    Dimitrov over Goffin
    Federer over Dimitrov

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