ATP Grand Prix Hassan II preview

ATP Grand Prix Hassan II preview

Clay court begins at the Grand Prix Hassan II.

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The only stop on African continent comes to the ATP Circuit as the clay court officially begins. Federico Delbonis the defending champion comes back with Grigor Dimitrov surprisingly taking a wildcard to be here as the number one seed. Nine players in the main draw are currently ranked inside the world top 50. 

The event is played on clay courts and was held annually at the Complexe Al Amal in Casablanca, Morocco through 2015, before relocating to Marrakech in 2016

Only two Africans Hicham Arazi and Younes El Aynaoui have won this tournament, the last coming in 2001 and since the first edition in 1984, Spaniards have dominated, winning ten titles.  But from 1984 to 1989 it was part of the Challenger series. 

First Quarter

Wildcard and number one Grigor Dimitrov begins his clay court campaign in the heart of Africa, his first appearance The Bulgarian has had a resurgence 2017, going 17-4 and winning two titles in the process. A second round match is on the cards against veteran clay court specialist Tommy Robredo, who plays a qualifier and has won all of his 12 titles on this surface. Should Dimitrov get past the Spaniard, expect him to make a deep run. 

Also in this section is Nicolas Almagro, who plays Radu Albot. The 31-year-old has struggled with injuries for the past couple of years and on this surface, provides a tough test for anyone. Sixth seed Benoit Paire opens up against another clay court specialist in Carlos Berlocq. Although the Frenchman has won just the one title on Clay, he certainly is the danger man in this quarter and has been runner-up on three separate occasions. So don't be surprised if the Frenchman turns it on this week. 

Quarterfinal: Grigor Dimitrov-Benoit Paire

Semifinalist: Grigor Dimitrov 

Grigor Dimitrov hitting a backhand shot (Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Grigor Dimitrov hitting a backhand shot (Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Second Quarter

The second section is headlined by third seed Philipp Kohlschreiber who has been awarded a bye and could face Malek Jaziri or Jeremy Chardy. The German comes in having won just two matches in the month of March and could find it tough should he play the Frenchman. Also in this section is the eighth-seeded Marcel Granollers. The 30-year-old begins his campaign against wildcard home favorite 19-year-old Amine Ahouda, who will be contesting his second ever ATP match.

In 2016, he was also awarded a wildcard for this tournament but lost in two tight sets to Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands. Another German in this draw is the tall, unpredictable Jan-Lennard Struff. He will play a qualifier in this match. The 26-year-old hold a 4-6 win/loss record this season and considers clay as his best surface. 

Quarterfinal: Jeremy Chardy-Marcel Granollers

Semifinalist: Marcel Granollers

Marcel Granollers stretches for a shot (Photo: Jean Christophe Magnenet/Getty Images)
Marcel Granollers stretches for a shot (Photo: Jean-Christophe Magnenet/Getty Images)

Third Quarter

Mischa Zverev headlines this third section. The German who was mainly dominated by injuries during his career, came back into the fold late last year at the Shanghai Open defeating the likes of Nick Kyrgios and Granollers before losing a close match against Novak Djokovic. 29-year-old is known to play on clay but also tends to struggle on this surface.

He faces either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Jiri Vesely, two players who are considered clay court specialists and will definitely trouble Zverev. Fifth seed Paolo Lorenzi is undoubtedly the most experienced man on this surface, despite having won only one ATP title. He faces Guillermo-Garcia Lopez in his opening match. Three of the Spaniard's titles have come on clay and will definitely be the favorite to progress from this section. 

Quarterfinal: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez-Jiri Vesely

Semifinalist: Jiri Vesely

Jiri Vesely strikes a forehand shot (Photo: Giuseppe Mafia/Getty Images)
Jiri Vesely strikes a forehand shot (Photo: Giuseppe Mafia/Getty Images)

Fourth Quarter

The final quarter is headlined by yet another Spaniard, this time Albert Rams-Vinolas. He faces Martin Klizan or a qualifier. The Slovak has had a troubled 2017, winning six matches and losing nine. At the start of the year, he was ranked 35 but has since slipped to world number 62. Last year's champion begins his defense against 28-year-old homegrown player Reda El Amrani. The Moroccan was awarded a wildcard last year into this tournament and lost out in straight sets to Nikola Mektic

He has also since dropped outside the world's 500 mainly playing futures. The Second of the Argentinians Diego Schwartzman faces late years runner up, Borna Coric. The Croatian is considered to be one of the world best youngsters and has yet to win a title despite making two finals. He also boasts four wins over top tenners: twice Rafael Nadal, once Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem making him a darkhorse to win his first title here. 

Quarterfinal: Borna Coric-Albert Ramos-Vinolas 

Semifinalist: Albert Ramos-Vinolas

Albert Ramos-Vinolas prepares to hit a forehand shot (Photo: Eric Feferberg/Getty Images)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas prepares to hit a forehand shot (Photo: Eric Feferberg/Getty Images)

Semifinals: Grigor Dimitrov def. Marcel Granollers, Albert Ramos-Vinolas def. Jiri Vesely

Final: Grigor Dimitrov def. Albert Ramos-Vinolas

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