Monday, February 23, 2015

Acapulco Preview

The Acapulco field isn't particularly strong for a 500 level tournament, partially because the big four are all playing elsewhere.  However, there are plenty of big names, including Nishikori, Ferrer and Dimitrov.  Dimitrov is the defending champion, but will have his work cut out for him if he hopes to repeat. 

In the top section, Nishikori should reach the semifinals without too much trouble.  The fifth seeded Dolgopolov is in his section, but Dolgopolov is not the same player he was last year.  He is yet to beat someone in the top 70 so far this year, and is unlikely to trouble Nishikori should he even make it that far. 

In the next section, Kevin Anderson and Steve Johnson are once again near each other in the draw.  Anderson has already beaten Johnson twice this year, and Johnson must be getting sick of running into Anderson so often.  Maybe Johnson has learned something from his past meetings with the South African, but it's hard to pick the American based on what we've seen so far this year.  Victor Troicki will likely take 7th seeded Santiago Giraldo's place in the quarterfinals, before going down to Anderson.

In the bottom half, the first quarterfinal could pit Delray Beach champion Ivo Karlovic against third seeded Dimitrov.  It's hard to see anyone stopping either player from reaching the quarters, unless Karlovic is feeling the effects of playing back to back weeks.  Dimitrov has struggled against Karlovic in the past, losing to him in the first round of last year's French Open.  However, Karlovic is due for a let down after taking the title the previous week.  Dimitrov gets the edge in three sets.

David Ferrer and Benjamin Becker are your seeds in the bottom quarter, but look for Tomic to reach the quarters instead of Becker.  The 22 year old Australian is in better form than Becker at the moment, and appears to be heading in the right direction.  Tomic has a chance to upset Ferrer in the quarters, especially given that Ferrer was playing a clay court tournament in Brazil last week.  But it's hard to actually pick the youngster to take out the extremely steady veteran, and Ferrer should find a way to squeak past the Australian.

In the top half semifinals, Nishikori vs Anderson would be a rematch of the Memphis final earlier this month.  Nishikori won that match in straights, and there's no reason to think the result in Acapulco will be any different.  While Anderson can overpower anybody at his best, the more consistent Nishikori is the better bet to reach the finals. 

In the other semifinals, Dimitrov and Ferrer would make for a compelling match up.  Dimitrov is at the point of his career where he should be beating Ferrer on a hard court, but it's hard to feel overly confident picking him based on his mediocre form so far this year.  The Bulgarian will be feeling the pressure as the defending champion, and will be anxious to get his season going with a strong result.  Dimitrov is the pick in three sets, but he'll have to play at a higher level than he has been for most of the year.

A Nishikori vs. Dimitrov finals would pit two of the sports biggest future stars against each other.  Surprisingly they've only played twice to date, with Nishikori winning both matches in straights.  On paper it's not a particularly bad matchup for the Bulgarian, and there's a good chance when their careers are over Dimitrov has the better head-to-head.   He has more variety, a bigger game, and is the better athlete (not that Nishikori doesn't crack the ball himself).  However, at this point Nishikori is the steadier player, and he has posted the better results of the two over the last year.  It wouldn't be surprising to see the two play an exciting three setter, with Nishikori emerging in the end.  

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