Erste Bank Open: ATP Vienna Preview

Erste Bank Open: ATP Vienna Preview

Top seed David Ferrer will look to make the final in Vienna for the second straight season. Ferrer lost the final in 2014 to Andy Murray.

Chris Spiech

Last year's champion at the Erste Bank Open, Andy Murray, will not be taking part in this year's tournament. That leaves 2014 finalist David Ferrer as the top seed in the field of 32.

ATP Vienna Tournament Overview

The ATP Tour swings back indoors this week with Vienna, Austria as one of three 250 level tournaments taking place. Last year, Andy Murray beat David Ferrer to win the title in three sets. David Ferrer will again lead the field as the top seed. Big servers Kevin Anderson, John Isner and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga round out the top four seeds this week in Vienna.

Amongst the top eight seeds, Tsonga is the only player to have won the title at this tournament previously. Tsonga took home the top prize in 2011. Ferrer is 3-3 all-time at this event. Austria's own Dominic Thiem is seeded fifth this week with a 4-4 mark at this tournament in his career. Gael Monfils returns to action as the sixth seed with the most matches played by any of the seeds at nine. He is 6-3 in Vienna. One former champion is in this week's 32 player field. Wild card entry Tommy Haas won this event in 2013.

First Quarter

David Ferrer is your top seed in this quarter with Fabio Fognini as the 8th seed in the bottom half. Ferrer already as an indoor title on this end of the season swing in Kuala Lumpur. He will look to get back on track after a shock loss to Bernard Tomic last week in Shanghai. He faces fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas to open. Ferrer is 4-0 against the man who stunned Roger Federer last week. With a first round win, the top seed could face another Spaniard in round two. He gets the winner of Santiago Giraldo vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Garcia-Lopez has beaten Giraldo both times they have met on hard surfaces in four career meetings (2-2). He has a very poor track record in Vienna though with a 1-6 record. As such, Giraldo could definitely get through.

In the bottom half, Fognini draws Paul-Henri Mathieu first. The Italian is not great on indoor surfaces. He did win a pair of Davis Cup matches in September on an indoor hard court, but on tour he has lost four of his last five. Mathieu has been playing indoors the last few tournaments and definitely could cause an upset. The winner there faces either Radek Stepanek or home standing Austrian Dennis Novak. Novak won a few at the Mons Challenger on a similar surface earlier this month. Behind a supportive crowd, there is a definite chance against Stepanek who does have an 11-6 record in Vienna. The Czech has rarely played indoors of late though with just two matches in Kuala Lumpur as his only indoor matches in the past 18 months.

Ferrer is still holding down the 8th spot in the ATP rankings as the final spot to get to London for the Tour Finals. Every point is helpful for him and he's got finals points he needs to defend this week. Good motivation as well as a helpful draw should give him a chance to get to the semifinals out of this quarter.

Second Quarter

It's all about the French here. Fourth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga heads into action back inside the Top 10 after a solid finals run in Shanghai last week. Sixth seed Gael Monfils returns to play for the first time since the U.S. Open. He will be in the opposite half of the quarter from Tsonga. Tsonga takes on 2013 Vienna champion Tommy Haas to open. While Haas has scuffled to find form in his work back from injury, this is an interesting spot against the Frenchman who has to turn around quickly from Sunday's finals loss to Novak Djokovic.

Tsonga is very good indoors, but most of his best results come in French tournaments. Don't be shocked if Haas pulls off a stunner. The survivor of that match takes on Lukas Rosol or Yuichi Sugita. Shockingly, Rosol has lost seven straight matches on indoor hard courts dating back to this tournament in 2014. His last win was in the first round here against Lukas Lacko. Sugita has made it through qualifying and could cause Rosol some further distress.

In the bottom half, your guess is as good as anyone's as to whether or not Monfils is in any shape to compete this week. If he is, then he is just as capable of winning this tournament as he is to losing to Thomaz Bellucci in the opening round. Bellucci made the quarters last year in Vienna and beat the third seed Feliciano Lopez along the way. He is fully capable of beating an out-of-form Monfils. The winner there goes against Paolo Lorenzi or Rajeev Ram. Bellucci could have a quarterfinal run in him with this draw. In the end, this quarter is wide open with the top seeds here both carrying question marks. Look at Haas or Bellucci to shock.

Third Quarter

It's the big server's quarter with third seed John Isner in one half and 7th seed Ivo Karlovic in the other. Isner faces qualifier Kenny De Schepper to start. De Schepper is no pushover on this surface and surprisingly, Isner has lost four of his last five matches in all competitions on indoor hard courts. Should he survive there, the American faces either Ernests Gulbis or Austrian qualifier Lucas Miedler. Gulbis has been back in disaster mode since his quarterfinal run at the Rogers Cup. He has lost five straight and retired from his last match. A motivated Miedler surely could win. The Isner-De Schepper winner looks like the favorite to make the quarters in this part of the draw.

In the other half, Karlovic opens with Andreas Seppi. Ivo made the quarterfinals last year in Vienna and this is a winnable opener. A win there places him against the winner of Jan-Lennard Struff and Sergiy Stakhovsky. Struff is an eye popping 5-1 against Stakhovsky with three wins coming indoors. Having already played through qualifying, Struff should have the advantage again. Give Karlovic the slight edge in this quarter due to Isner's surprisingly poor play on the surface recently. Struff looks like a potential dark horse.

Fourth Quarter

This looks like the most competitive quarter with second seed Kevin Anderson opposite of fifth seed Dominic Thiem. Anderson has a tough opener against Andreas Haider-Maurer. These two met in 2011 in the exact same spot with Anderson coming through 6-4, 6-4. Since making the final in 2010, Haider-Maurer has lost in the first round three straight times, but has always been a tough out. Should Anderson move on, he likely will face Jiri Vesely. The Czech opens with Gerald Melzer. Vesely does own a win over Anderson earlier this season in Auckland.

Thiem draws Jerzy Janowicz to start his Vienna campaign. Janowicz has been trying to cope with a knee injury down the stretch this season. He made a Challenger final on this surface in September where he lost to Struff. Considering the Polish player was thinking about withdrawing from the rest of his 2015 schedule, Thiem should feel good about his chances to score a win. Thiem has mixed success at this tournament at 4-5, so he is no cinch to do much this week. His second round match could be difficult with either Steve Johnson or Alexandr Dolgopolov waiting. Johnson should have the edge on this surface.

Kevin Anderson should be considered the favorite to make the semifinals in this quarter, but he does have a dangerous draw. Vesely is capable of taking him down and there are guys with power in Thiem and Johnson in the other half who will be tough outs as well.


Semifinals: Ferrer def. Bellucci, Karlovic def. Johnson
Final: Ferrer def. Karlovic