The 41st ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament is underway in Rotterdam. With a deep draw for this year’s tournament and many entrants in some formidable form, there are many competitor’s to keep an eye on. Giving us his top 5 is Eoin Lyons.
Seeded 3 for this year’s tournament in Rotterdam, Tomas Berdych is as always, a serious contender to come out victorious at the end of the week. After an excellent performance in the first round of the Davis Cup, in which he led his team to victory with three wins to overcome the Netherlands, Berdych is most definitely in top form. As has been the case in the past, Berdych is not only a consistent force within the men’s game, but also a player who has been known to beat the very best of opponent’s. Arguably, there is nobody in this year’s draw who the Czech should fear. With a promising draw, Berdych could very well sail through to the latter stages, and if momentum is with him, another trophy may certainly be on its way to the Czech Republic.
Number 2 seed, Andy Murray, is also another contender, who will be keen to repeat his fortunes of 2009 by winning Rotterdam once again. Much like Berdych, Murray is entering this tournament on the back of a flawless Davis Cup opening round performance. The Wimbledon champion has been awarded the wild card entry to this year’s tournament, adding huge strength to an already stellar draw. After a gruelling start to the year, Murray has impressed those who may have doubted his abilities after his recent back surgery. After a disappointing Australian Open, the Scot is looking to gain some silverware, to redeem himself as one of the best in the world for 2014. With a 7 – 2 match record for this year already, Andy is certainly one of the best in the draw for Rotterdam, and it would not be a massive surprise if he were to be the last man standing come the end of the week.
Juan Martin Del Potro is seeded 1 for this tournament, well-deserved considering he is the defending champion who has returned to a career-high ranking of number 4 in the world. The Argentinian has already opened his tournament winning account for this year, emerging victorious from Sydney in commanding fashion. There is one major problem for the Argentinian however, as another wrist injury has severely disrupted his training regimen. In order to recover from treatment on his wrist, Del Potro had to go 20 days without playing tennis or going to the gym. As a result of this, the Argentinian has openly admitted that he is not at 100% fitness for this tournament. His doctors and trainers however, have given him the go ahead to play, and Del Potro remains confident of clinching his second tournament win of the year. He has stated that he aims to remain in the top 5, and ideally reach number 3 in the world this year. While he says it will be difficult to surpass Rafa, Djokovic and Wawrinka, he maintains that he is not the only one in the mix with valuable points to defend. His first round encounter with Gael Monfils will be a great test of this grit and determination. And you feel, if he does impress in this opening challenge, then he may go the whole way yet again.
Rated at 23 in the world, and without any seeding for this tournament, theoretically Gael Monfils should not stand out as a threat to anyone this year in Rotterdam. He is far from being the highest-ranked player in the draw, and with a first round match against the number 1 seed, it is certainly a possibility that the Frenchman may be heading back home on day one. Form however, is everything. The classic entertainer, Gael Monfils, overcame his countryman and world number 9, Richard Gasquet, last Sunday to clinch his first title in two years. The 30 year old took the Montpellier International title in commanding fashion, defeating Gasquet in straight sets without offering his opponent a single break chance. Striking 9 aces throughout, Monfils looked to be in outstanding form, and free from the injuries which have hampered his progress in recent years. As Gasquet is seeded four for this tournament, Monfils is technically one of the top contenders if that’s the way you wish to look at it. While his first match is against the top seeded Del Potro, it is undeniable that Monfils is in the better condition of the two, free from injury. Of course, Del Potro may overcome the Frenchman and send him home right away. But the possibility remains that Monfils has it in him to defeat the Argentinian, and if he does, he will be taken very seriously for the remainder of the tournament.
Finally, we have the young prospect that will certainly make an impact this week, Gregor Dimitrov. Seeded 8 for this tournament, and currently the youngest player in the world top 20, the Bulgarian may be the dark horse for this year’s tournament in Rotterdam. Gregor is making his fourth appearance in Rotterdam, which will be his first tournament since an admirable performance in the Australian Open. The Bulgarian forced world number 1 Rafael Nadal to a four set victory after clinching the opening set against the Spaniard 6 – 3. This of course, was not the first time the Bulgarian impressed in a high profile encounter. In 2009 at the age of 17 and ranking of 478 in the world, Dimitrov defeated Tomas Berdych and brought Nadal to a three-set thriller in his first ATP tournament. While this was certainly a shock at the time, Dimitrov has undeniably continued to impress ever since. He has climbed up the rankings to a current career-high of 19, and if the games go his way this week, he may climb even further as he will surely make it to the semi’s at the very least.
Pundit Arena, Eoin Lyons.
Featured Image By Revanta Banerji (originally posted to Flickr as usopen2008 006) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.