With the Asian Swing ending today, the ATP Tour moves back to Europe for the last stretch of the tennis season. With two ATP250 tournaments this week, it will be a slow start after a Masters 1000 tournament, as almost usual, but one of those tournaments, the If Open in Stockholm, will get most of my attention, as it marks the first tournament of Juan Martín del Potro since the Davis Cup semi-finals.
For his comeback, we cannot say he has an easy draw. As the second seed of the tournament, he receives a “Bye” in the first round, but will face the winner of the match between James Blake and Olivier Rochus in the second round, two very tricky opponents even though they lost the luster of their prime. He could, in the quarters, face his countryman David Nalbandian, who will first have to defeat Xavier Malisse, and then the winner of the Ivan Dodig – Adrian Mannarino match, most likely no. 7 seed Dodig, who gave him a merry chase a couple of weeks ago in Tokyo. In the semis, Delpo could face no. 3 seed Stanislas Wawrinka.
First seed Gaël Monfils, who withdrew from the Beijing and Shanghai tournaments with a knee injury, will face either a qualifier or Australian rising star Bernard Tomic in his first match. He could then play against Kevin Anderson (5) for a place in the semis, where he has a chance of meeting either no. 4 seed Juan Ignacio Chela or, a logical choice, Canadian cannon server Milos Raonic (6). That is if Missile Milos first disposes of Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, as the rest of the draw seems pretty open for him save this tricky first round.
The draw is available here and the action starts tomorrow with the end of the qualifications and two first-round matches. Sadly, the tournament will not only be deprived of both its defending champion and runner-up, Roger Federer and Florian Mayer, but also of Swede Robin Söderling, who still hasn’t recovered from the mononucleosis afflicting him and thus pulled out of his home-country’s indoor tournament, but also pulled the plug on his 2011 season. I hope that Söderling will come back completely healthy again next year.
Streaking is better than striking
That is something Andy Murray surely is happy about, as his win today was his 15th consecutive win, he who only lost one match (vs Nadal in the US Open semi-finals) since his second-round loss in Montréal in August.
Also on streaks, Canadian Peter Polansky, who won the Austin Futures event today to extend his own Futures streak to 15 matches, as well as Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who won the Tiburon Challenger and his 10th consecutive match today.
…and hopefully with a special feature, if time permits. I was given the “go ahead”. 😉