Open field in absence of hometown hero
It seems unlikely that in the absence of hometown hero, Roger Federer, that a compatriot will take advantage in Basel.
Stan Wawrinka has no history to speak of at this event, whilst the other locals – Marco Chiudinelli and Henri Laaksonen – feature thanks to friendly wild cards.
The trio of last week’s champions all feature in the Basel draw and it is Juan Martin Del Potro who provides the most intrigue. The Argentine’s victory in Stockholm was delivered his first title since January 2014, and it should give him confidence to repeat championship runs in Basel from 2012 and 2013.
An open looking event looks to be on the cards, and who can take advantage of 7 time champion Federer’s no show?
The best performance in Basel of US Open champion Wawrinka is a semi final. As is regular for ‘Stan the Man’ his results outside of the year’s biggest events isn’t the best, and it is hard to predict when his motivation will suddenly awaken.
His Basel draw is not the worst, featuring Antwerp champion Richard Gasquet as the greatest obstacle. Gasquet leads the H2H 2/1 but it is a match-up that can go either way with the 2 most recent meetings split by a winning margin of 11 games to 9 and by 8 games to 6 at Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively.
The 2 largest indeterminable factors that could affect that contest are the fitness of Gasquet – can he back up last week’s effort? – and the motivation of Wawrinka – will he suddenly feel like putting in an effort in Basel?
The route to the tasty potential quarter final is not too dangerous for the pair. Marco Chiudinelli will be plucky against Wawrinka, and Donald Young in the R16 may have one of those days but really the Swiss shouldn’t be tested unless he’s feeling lazy.
Mischa Zverev continues his efforts to provide a bit of family competition to the ever improving Sascha having qualified for his 10th main draw in 2016, an Open Era record. His quarter final appearance in Shanghai shows that his form is not solely to be found in the qualifying rounds. However, he has played 23 matches in the past 8 weeks and although he took a break last week in Stockholm it is a big ask to keep playing and to keep winning.
The older Zverev battles Taylor Fritz in the first round but may fall to Gasquet in the next match providing the Frenchman can see off the challenge of Guido Pella.
Verdict – Gasquet to repeat 2015 and 2012 semi finals.
Jack Sock defends semi final points in the second quarter. The in form American has produced a strong and consistent level in the past 8 weeks and has performed well for the past 2 seasons during the European indoor swing. If he isn’t feeling the effects of the 15 matches played recently he could have a shot at another Basel semi final.
Sock made the final in Stockholm, but was undone by the resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro. The American will be confident of downing the quarter’s highest seed Marin Cilic, as he has been able to do in both their matches this season.
Standing in the path of a 3rd Sock-Cilic meeting are a series of players with no previous history in the Swiss city. The winner of the match between Fernando Verdasco and Moscow winner Pablo Carreno-Busta will take on Cilic in the round of 16. Verdasco has 1 win and 5 defeats from his indoor matches this year, whilst Carreno Busta had the trainer out on court during his win over Fognini last week, which the Italian humorously called him out on during the trophy presentation. Neither player I feel will get the better of Cilic who started in fine style with a 6/4 6/2 win versus Youzhny.
Sock will be pleased to take on not too taxing opposition in the form of Adrian Mannarino in the round of 32, and will follow that up with a winnable contest against whoever comes out on top of Marcel Granollers and Henri Laaksonen (one set all when article was published).
Verdict – Sock to conserve energy before beating Cilic again in the QF.
David Goffin has an opportunity to take the lead in the race for the final qualification place at the season ending London event following Tomas Berdych’s first round loss to Nikoloz Basilashvili in Vienna.
The Belgian baseliner has put in a heavy effort in recent weeks to be in contention, and it looked to take its toll on the slow courts of Antwerp last week with a tame defeat to Diego Schwartzman. Goffin will not be too happy to find Marcos Baghdatis in his first round bracket as he has a negative 4/1 record against the flat hitting Cypriot and even should he come through that it will probably not be an opportunity for him to save much needed energy.
Things don’t get any easier for Goffin in the next round especially if Del Potro gets past Robin Haase. Del Potro did not relish the match up against Goffin when they met in Shanghai, but it could be another lengthy affair.
Kei Nishikori is the top seed in this section of the draw but his recent retirement in Tokyo once again raises reasonable concerns about his durability. The Japanese bested Dusan Lajovic fairly comfortably in his first round match so may be in decent condition.
Neither Paolo Lorenzi nor Nicolas Mahut will cause much difficulty to Nishikori in the second round, with Mahut’s form fading badly of late.
Nishikori has the easier route to the quarter finals but will be hoping to see a Belgian or Cypriot on the other side of the net than the lanky Argentine against whom he has lost all 4 career matches. From an unbiased perspective I think 2016 Del Potro versus 2016 Nishikori would be a fascinating contest and might not go with the career H2H.
Verdict – Nishikori to punish questionable Del Po backhand
This bottom quarter looks very open without a very obvious selection to reach the semi finals. Milos Raonic does not look like the same player that was in robotic form at the start of the year, and has dipped considerably since Wimbledon.
The Canadian will be doing something really wrong however if he can’t fight his way past Ricardas Berankis and Federico Delbonis.
Grigor Dimitrov is the other seeded player in this quarter, but last week he lost out to Del Potro in Stockholm and has played considerably more tennis than the other players in his draw.
In the first match Dimitrov will face Gilles Muller, another player who has had better form earlier this season.
It has been a long time since Benoit Paire had a good week and I have a suspicious feeling that he might have one of those tournaments. His record is weak and his form is low but Paire is a streaky player and his highest levels can appear when you least expect them.
Verdict – Paire to find random good form in Basel.
This is as open a field as you are likely to see in a 500 draw.
If Nishikori is over his recent fitness problems I think he is well positioned to claim victory in Basel. He is 6.43 to win Basel on the Betfair Exchange.
Alternatively the adventurous may wish to take a chance on Benoit Paire at a best price of 95 on the Betfair Exchange.
Jack Sock who I believe will have a good week and may be the man to beat in the top half can be matched as high as 20.49 on the Betfair Exchange.