The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. The big names are taking the week off to rest and prepare for the Madrid-Rome double, so it’s a week for the strugglers — David Ferrer, Janko Tipsarevic, and Marion Bartoli — to find their form.
Juan Martin del Potro was a late withdrawal from the rebranded Portugal Open (formerly the Estoril Open) but luckily the tournament was able to secure the services of David Ferrer, who took a late wildcard after losing his opening match in Barcelona to Dmitry Tursunov. Ferrer described his three-set loss as one of the worst matches he’s played in a few years and his early exit meant his lead over Rafael Nadal in the race to secure the No. 4 seed at the French Open shrank. A title in Portugal won’t help him points-wise, but Ferrer needs to get his clay game sorted before the ATP Masters events in Madrid and Rome. Along with Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka, Andreas Seppi, and Fabio Fognini round out the Top 4 seeds.
On the women’s side, Marion Bartoli and Dominika Cibulkova top the women’s field. It will be interesting to see if Bartoli’s two-win Fed Cup performance two weekends ago pulls her out of her minor slump. She hasn’t won a WTA-level match since Indian Wells and is still trying to figure out her coaching situation.
Varvara Lepchenko and Vania King are the sole Americans in the draw, with Lepchenko drawing Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round. Tough draw.
If there’s one Top 10 player you don’t mind drawing right now it’s Janko Tipsarevic. Still ranked No. 10, Tipsarevic has been dire since he was forced to retire to Nicolas Almagro in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January. Since then, he’s played seven tournaments and won back-to-back matches only once, in Miami. He tops a solid field in Munich, which includes Tommy Haas, Marin Cilic, Ernests Gulbis, and defending champion Phillipp Kohlschreiber, who always seems to play well at home. Gael Monfils took a wildcard into the tournament but at this point it’s hard to have any confidence in his ability to string together wins. He took a wildcard into Bucharest last week, proclaimed himself 100 percent healthy, and then retired to Daniel Brands in the second round.
Two players to keep an eye on here are Tommy Haas and Ernests Gulbis. Haas decided to skip Monte Carlo to give his body a rest after his semifinal run in Miami, while Gulbis looked much sharper last week in Barcelona, beating Radek Stepanek and Fernando Verdasco easily before losing to Milos Raonic. He’s drawn surprise Monte Carlo quarterfinalist Jarkko Nieminen in the first round.
Tallahassee/Indian Harbour Beach
The USTA’s French Open wildcard playoff wraps up this week as both the men and the women play the last of three USTA Pro Circuit events to try to earn a French Open main draw wildcard. Michael Russell and Ryan Harrison top the field in Tallahassee, while the women finish in Indian Harbour Beach, FL. Alex Kuznetsov is in good position to win the men’s wildcard so long as Wayne Odesnik doesn’t win the title. Shelby Rogers is in the lead for the women’s wildcard after winning Charlottesville last week.