Following an amazing fortnight’s tennis at Wimbledon, the tour has got back down to the bread and butter of the ATP 250 events this week. Men’s tournaments have been taking place across the world in Newport, Stuttgart, Umag and Bastad.
At the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, USA, there were several big American names all looking to try and make up for slightly disappointing outings at SW19.
John Isner won this event last year but was the second favourite behind highly rated young Canadian, Milos Raonic for this one. Both men will have been frustrated by their efforts in London. Isner was a first round Wimbledon casualty at the hands of Alejandro Falla, whilst Raonic will have been bitterly upset at missing out on the chance to face Andy Murray, after going out in the second round to Sam Querrey.
Querrey is in attendance here this week too, along with a host of other American hopefuls including Ryan Harrisson, Donald Young and Matthew Ebdon.
The biggest name in the draw is former world no.1 and 2002 Wimbledon Champion, Lleyton Hewitt.
It’s tough picking a winner out of such a closely matched group but if all of the bigger names find their way through to the latter stages, we could be in for some exciting play over the weekend.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, The Mercedes Cup is taking place in Stuttgart, Germany and another high-class field sees the likes of Serb no.2, Janko Tipsarevic, Italian youngster, Thomaz Bellucci and Argentinean, Juan Monaco all battling it out to claim this clay court title.
Tipsarevic enjoyed his short season on the grass but is equally able to impress on the ‘red stuff’ and it’s easy to see why he’s the favourite for the title. A quarter final with Thomaz Bellucci looks like it could be coming up on Friday and the Serb would certainly need to be at his best to win that one.
In the bottom half of the draw Juan Monaco will be extremely confident of coming through unscathed but a fascinating battle with Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez looks to lie ahead.
Of course things could have been looking decidedly trickier in the bottom half for Monaco, had home crowd favourite, Tommy Haas not fallen at the second hurdle. Haas came in as the number 8 seed here and came from a set down to defeat Igor Andreev in the opening round. A straight sets defeat to Pavol Cervenak put pay to his hopes in Stuttgart for this year though.
Over in Umag, Croatia, it looks like the clay loving Spaniards are set to dominate. Fernando Verdasco has arrived as the top seed and appears to be on a top half of the draw collision course with fellow Spaniard, Marcel Granollers. A fully-firing Verdasco, who don’t forget is the only man to defeat Rafa Nadal on clay in 2012, should be able to move through to the final of this event with little trouble, but the bottom half of the draw looks a little more interesting. Marin Cilic, who fell to Andy Murray in the fourth round at Wimbledon, is the no.2 seed but he’s not usually at his best on clay and the likes of Alexandr Dolgopolov and Carlos Berlocq will both feel they have good chances to progress.
Verdasco is a clear favourite with the bookmakers but Dolgopolov should do well and could cause a minor upset in Croatia.
The final ATP event of the week takes place in Bastad, Sweden. This one looks like the highest class event of the week with both David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro coming in as the two top seeds. Ferrer is always a danger on clay, even when the world’s top four are in action. The battling Spaniard came within a whisker of taking a two set lead over Andy Murray in the Wimbledon quarter final and had he done that he would most likely have been a big favourite to go on and book a place in the final.
Both Ferrer and Almagro look to be heading for a meeting in the final here and are both clear favourites to come through their halves of the draw. Ferrer shouldn’t be troubled by the likes of Robredo and Dimitrov whilst Almagro will be confident of having this his own way against Traver and Hajek.