With several of the top seeds set for their first matches of the tournament, things have already changed in s-Hertogenbosch. Already ousted this week are 7th seed Fernando Verdasco via wild card Robin Haase in straight sets on Wednesday. 9th seeded Vasek Pospisil lost a tough battle to unseeded Gilles Muller on Wednesday in three and 4th seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez also fell today to qualifier Marius Copil. With those “upsets” – a term loosely used in these 250 level events – let’s take a look at how the quarters now shape up as the quarter finals loom.
Goffin is the 2nd seed and he’ll be playing his 1st match of the tournament Thursday. He faces unseeded Jurgen Melzer. The Austrian worked through qualifier Kenny De Schepper in his opener 6-4, 6-7, 6-3. The lefty will provide a stern test for Goffin who still is very green, pardon the pun, on grass at this stage. He’s lost seven of his last eight on the surface since making the 3rd round of Wimbledon back in 2012. It’s also been four months since he faced a lefty. I still like the upset potential there. Otherwise, 8th seed Joao Sousa still looks enticing to win this quarter. He was up & down against Istomin, but won going away in three. He gets qualifier Ilya Marchenko. Marchenko’s win over a struggling Mikhail Youzhny in the 1st round was his first win on grass in an ATP main draw since 2011.
As I outlined prior to the start of the Topshelf Open, unseeded players routinely get to the semifinals at this event. That will be the case in this quarter with seeds Pospisil & Garcia-Lopez already headed out of town. It should be a serve fest for the semifinal spot as Gilles Muller takes on Marius Copil. Both players have 27 aces through their first two matches. Copil was much better on-serve against Garcia-Lopez, but Muller has been almost unbreakable with just one break opportunity handed out so far this tournament. They’ve split two matches in their careers with one going the distance back in 2013 on an indoor hard surface that Copil won. The other saw Muller win in two tie breaks on carpet in 2010. It’s a coin flip really, but Muller’s serve has been slightly less touchable so far. Give him a very small edge, but it won’t be a surprise if Copil continues his run.
The good doctor pounded his way to the quarter finals with 25 aces in a double tie break win over Tatsuma Ito. He will face Haase who dispatched of Verdasco 7-6, 6-3 on Wednesday. It was a definite surprise given the way the two have performed on grass in the past. Haase had seemed allergic to it with a 10-23 record prior to this week. Haase has a good enough serve to stick with Ivo into some tie breaks, so expect one or two to decide who makes it to the semis. Karlovic has kept with his career mark by going 10-12 in tie breaks this year, winning around 5-% for his career. Haase has been much worse at just 35%, but did win the TB over Verdasco. He has won his last four tie breaks on grass. In what could come down to just a point or two difference, let’s give Haase the chance to continue to add to his best finish at this tournament by reaching the semis.
This was the quarter I thought might see an non-seed work through and it could still happen. Third seeded Roberto Bautista-Agut and 8th seed Adrian Mannarino are alive in this quarter. Mannarino has played a match, beating Lu 6-4, 6-3. He wasn’t great, but he was good enough. He catches qualifier Marco Chiudinelli who outlasted Benoit Paire in 3; 7-6, 2-6, 7-6. Chiudinelli wasn’t expection, but he was also just good enough. This is already the Swiss’ best showing on grass, but I think Mannarino puts an end to that in the quarters. Chiudinelli is just 8-11 career-wise against lefties in ATP main draw events. It is Mannarino though, so anything is possible. I still like Mahut to take out RBA in the other match. RBA did get him here last year in the quarters in three sets. This time he comes in cold with this being his 1st grass court match. Mahut needs to serve well, but should have a shot for revenge.
It’s booked that we’ll get at least one non-seed in a semifinal due to the upsets that have already happened. I think at least one other quarter sees another get through and maybe more than just the one quarter. I also like a non-seed to be playing for a title come Sunday. With the way the draw has panned out already, Muller or Copil might have a leg up on that. Don’t count out those pesky vets though with Mahut & Melzer still in play.