In arguably the most loaded 2013 draw outside of the Australian Open, the ATP 250 event in Marseille has one of the strongest fields of the young ATP season.
With the bottom half of the top ten (6-10) competing in the tournament, this tournament is one of the most top heavy ATP 250 tournaments to date.
The tournament will have four qualifiers and the top four seeds will receive first round byes.
Seeded Players: 1. Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic), 2. Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina), 3. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France), 4. Janko Tipsarevic (Serbia), 5. Richard Gasquet (France), 6. Gilles Simon (France), 7. Jerzy Janowicz (Poland), 8. Martin Klizan (Slovakia)
2012 Final: Juan Martin Del Potro d. Michael Llodra 6-4 6-4
First Round Matches to Watch
Lukas Rosol v. Jerzy Janowicz- This should be a highly explosive and entertaining first round encounter between two guys who can absolutely tear the leather off the ball. Jerzy Janowicz made his name known by reaching the finals in Bercy last fall beating Andy Murray along the way. Rosol's prominence was seen in his stunning upset of Rafael Nadal at last year's Wimbledon. Both Janowicz and Rosol are capable of littering up the stat sheet with aces and blowing their opposition off the court with vaporizing and truly domineering groundstrokes. Expect a lot of winners but also a lot of unforced errors from two players who thrive upon playing high risk, low margin tennis. The head to head in this series is even at one a piece but the two matches are essentially invalid as both occurred in challengers before 2012. This one is definitely hard to project since both guys are prone to significant hot and cold streaks but I'll go with Janowicz in three sets.
Martin Klizan v. Bernard Tomic- Martin Klizan and Bernard Tomic have had very dissimilar starts to 2013. Klizan lost in the opening round of the Australian Open losing to Daniel Brands whereas Tomic reached the third round before losing to Roger Federer. In addition, Klizan had only won three other matches this year coming into Marseille, two of which were last week in Rotterdam. Tomic won his first seven tour matches of the season which included his first ATP title of his career in Sydney. To boot, Tomic had a straight sets win over Novak Djokovic in the Hopman Cup. Tomic lost a tough three setter to Grigor Dimitrov last week in Rotterdam but I expect him to recoup to beat the struggling Slovakian in straight sets. It should also be noted that Klizan was forced to retire in his quarterfinal match against Gilles Simon in Rotterdam down 0-3 in the deciding set.
Michael Llodra v. David Goffin- One week ago, 22 year old David Goffin suffered the worst type of defeat in tennis—the double bagel. Failing to win a single game, the upcoming Belgian was outclassed by his adversary of nearly ten years, Jarko Nieminen of Finland. In their first round match in Marseille, 32 year old Michael Llodra is hoping that youth will be served once more as he looks to replicate the run he made to the final in 2012 before losing to Del Potro. Llodra leads the head the head 1-0 with the lone victory coming last year in a challenger in Belgium which Llodra won in straight sets. I'm expecting the Frenchmen to serve and volley his way to comfortable victory on the speedy indoor courts behind the support of the French crowd.
Quarter by Quarter Breakdown
*note- predictions are only up until the quarterfinals as I will do a preview and prediction for each match from the quarterfinals on
Tomas Berdych's Quarter- Tomas Berdych will receive a first round bye before facing either wildcard entry Ernests Gublis or Jarko Niemenen which should prove to be smooth sailing for the number one seed. An enthralling and electric second round matchup between Rotterdam finalist Julien Benenteau and Jerzy Janowicz could be in store with the winner likely to face Tomas Berdych. I'm going to pick Janowicz to beat a drained out Benneteau to create a Janowicz-Berdych quarterfinal. One name to look out for in this section in the future is the 18 year old wildcard Lucas Pouille. I got a chance to see him dismantle big serving Australian Samuel Groth in the Australian Open Qualifying Tournament. Pouille has very clean, efficient ground strokes, wonderful court coverage, and a serve that excellently combines speed and placement. Pouille should help France continue its trend of extremely talented tennis players who are known for their beauty, power, finesse, and shot making among other things.
Janko Tipsarevic's Quarter- If any player had a hand in picking the draw for this particular tournament, it was definitely Janko Tipsarevic. Tipsy opens up with a bye and then faces the winner of a first round match between two qualifiers. Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet are likely set to face off in the second round as they did in Montpellier which Gasquet claimed in three sets. I really don't trust Monfils in any difficult match so I am inclined to pick Gasquet who is coming off his second title of the year in Montpellier and is the first player two capture two titles in 2012. So as I see it, Tipsarevic will be looking to gain his first victory over Richard Gasquet in the quarterfinals.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's Quarter- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be looking to get off to a better start in Marseille than he did in Rotterdam where he lost to Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands in three tight sets. Tsonga will likely play 2009 World Tour Final Champion Nikolay Davydenko in the second round and if he can escape out of that match unharmed, Bernard Tomic in the quarterfinal. Another Frenchman in this section is Benoit Paire who is capable at times of producing breathtaking tennis that makes you wonder why he is still ranked 38th, but at other times produces tennis that shows you exactly why he is ranked 38th. Lets just say he's one to watch out. Just to reaffirm, I'm forecasting Jo-Willy to take on Bernard Tomic in the quarterfinals.
Juan Martin Del Potro's Quarter- The Tower of Tandill is brewing with confidence after his convicing title in Rotterdam which he took down without conceding a single set. Del Potro is on course for a rematch of last year's Marseille final with Michael Llodra in the second round which Del Potro won in two sets. Llodra last beat Del Potro indoors in Bercy in straight sets effectively utilizing an all court brand of tennis grounded upon the serve and volley. Llodra will likely do much of the same in addition to keeping the big man low and off balance as much as possible. Unfortunately for Llodra, I think Del Po will have learned his lesson and will continue his hot streak to the quarterfinals. Robin Haase, Gilles Simon, and Roberto Bautista Agut are all in Del Potro's quarter and I believe any one of them could make the quarterfinals despite the fact that Simon seems the very likely favorite to advance. Ultimately, I think experience and the crowd will boost Gilles Simon to a quarterfinal matchup with Juan Martin Del Potro.
Dark Horse: Bernard Tomic
- Despite the fact that there is an ATP 500 event taking place this week, in Memphis, the bottom half of the ATP top ten is playing in Marseilles
- Last year's final between Del Potro and Llodra could be seen in the second round this year