The final leg of the Golden Swing is taking place this week in Acapulco, Mexico. The Abierto Mexicano Telcel is the first of three ATP 500 events to be held on clay this year. The other two will occur later in the season in Barcelona and Hamburg.
As a note, the lateness of this preview is due to the delayed release of the Acapulco draw due to some last minute withdrawals. Five opening round matches have already been played with the one match to highlight that being Joao Sousa's upset of fifth seed Jurgen Melzer in straight sets.
This tournament has four qualifiers and three Mexican wild cards
Prize Pool: $1,212,750
Ranking Points: 500
Seeded Players: 1. David Ferrer (Spain), 2 Rafael Nadal (Spain), 3. Nicolas Almagro (Spain), 4. Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland), Jurgen Melzer (Austria), 6. Thomaz Bellucci (Brazil), 7. Benoit Paire (France), 8. Horacio Zeballos (Argentina)
2012 Final: David Ferrer d. Fernando Verdasco 6-1 6-2
First Round Matches to Watch
David Ferrer v. Albert Ramos- David Ferrer enters the tournament as the top seed and is surely hungry to reclaim his Acapulco title from just a short year ago. Ferrer is coming into Acapulco on the heels of his second straight title in Buenos Aires. Albert Ramos had a very solid week in Buenos Aires, reaching the quarterfinals before bowing out to eventual finalist, Stanislas Wawrinka. After losing his first four matches of the season, Ramos has begun to pick up the pace. Though Ramos will be an overwhelming underdog, Ferrer will know full and well that underestimating his compatriot would be a mistake. Ramos has the ability to crank the ball and thrives on the clay where he has won 34 of his 46 matches on tour. In 2012, Ramos recorded wins over Feliciano Lopez, Richard Gasquet, Fernando Verdasco, and Juan Monaco. Still, the 25 year old Spaniard will have to put forth a career best display to take out Ferrer.
Prediction: Ferrer to take out Ramos in two closely fought sets.
Fabio Fognini v. Stanislas Wawrinka- This matchup is particularly intriguing due to the previous matches these two have contested. They have played three times in tour level matches, all on clay, and Wawrinka has been the victor each time. With that said, two of the matches occurred in 2011 and both had the Italian jumping out to a set lead, but Wawrinka would storm back to win both those matches in a deciding set. Clay is the surface in which both these men have their highest winning percentage on so this is the ideal surface for these two to square off. In Buenos Aires, Fognini and Wawrinka both lost to David Ferrer in the quarterfinals and finals respectively. Wawrinka had a long week in Buenos Aires so playing an opponent in Fognini who can lull you to sleep and attack with deceptive power isn't quite the optimal matchup for Wawrinka whose level of concentration might not be up to par. Fognini plays a very casual game producing some of the most relaxed, simplistic shots in all of tennis. Wawrinka is the significant favorite but I have a feeling he may be leaving Acapulco a bit earlier than he might be expecting.
Prediction: Look for Fognini to extract the most out of his speed and consistency to take out a gassed Wawrinka in three sets.
Thomaz Bellucci v. Andrey Kuznetsov- Andrey Kuznetsov can demolish the ball. The 22 year old Russian goes hard and flat off both wings as much as possible leaving opponents helpless. Bellucci is essentially the antithesis to Kuznetsov preferring to drive up the back of the ball to impart vicious topspin. Kuznetsov is 5-8 on clay in his young career while Bellucci is 71-44. Based on those facts, Bellucci would seem to be the heavy favorite but with the poor form shown by the Brazilian in the last several weeks in Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, Kuznestov should have a very decent shot at winning this match. The key in this match is for Bellucci to ensure he isn't giving Kuznestov too many balls that are short in the court and sit up which can occur with players who tend to hit a lot of topspin.
Prediction: This should be a close one but look for Bellucci's experience and clay court prowess to subdue the explosive Russian in three sets.