J. M. Del Potro vs WC Henri Laaksonen
Qualifier vs. Marcos Baghdatis
Qualifier vs Qualifier
Michael Llodra vs  Richard Gasquet
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Victor Hanescu vs Qualifier
Daniel Gimeno-Traver vs Lukasz Kubot
Daniel Brands vs  Andreas Seppi
Grigor Dimitrov vs Radek Stepanek
WC Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Kenny De Schepper
Denis Istomin vs Horacio Zeballos
Adrian Mannarino vs  Roger Federer
Kei Nishikori vs WC Marco Chiudinelli
Carlos Berlocq vs Ivan Dodig
Vasek Pospisil vs Robin Haase
Ivo Karlovic vs  Tomas Berdych
Howdy friends. It’s been a bit of a dull(like Nadull) week for tennis but at least the Basel draw is out and we can start preparing for another tournament where Roger will try to get a couple of wins under his belt. The reason my title is Federer Draws Mannarino in Basel 1st Round is because I am not looking further than the 1st round. I have learned my lesson in Shanghai. I know I said I expect Roger to do better in the indoor events but you just can’t be too cautious with him these days. I know there is the possible quarter final match up with Dimitrov to look forward to and everything, but Dimitrov may not get that far anyway. Speaking of Dimitrov, today he made his second career ATP final after defeating Paire in Stockholm. It’s been overall a disappointing year for Dimitrov after I had a lot of hope that this would be his breakthrough season.
I believe Dimitrov has vast potential and I was really hoping he could follow in Roger’s footsteps once he retired. I think many of us Fedfans hoped so because his tennis is aesthetically pleasing like Roger’s. He would have been the perfect replacement but he seems too concerned with his relationship with ‘Sugarpova’. In fact there is now a rumor that Sugerpova is preggers, which looks pretty legit. The tennis future for Dimitrov doesn’t look very bright, despite having just made his second ATP final. Doesn’t look to me like he will ever live up to all that potential. Dimitrov is only 22, but given his talent he should probably have done more by now if he was going to come anywhere close to following in Roger’s footsteps. GOAT won his first slam when he was 21. At Dimitrov’s age he had already won 3 slams, a Masters Cup, several other tournaments, and was ranked #1.
And Roger was not exactly what you would call an early bloomer. Dimitrov hasn’t even won an ATP 250. And I don’t think he is going to win it in Stockholm either, because he has to deal with a resurgent Ferrer who beat Gulbis today. I’m not expecting Dimitrov to become as good as Roger but at least it would have been nice if he became a regular contender at slams. But if that is to happen something drastic would have to change. He just doesn’t look fully committed to his tennis. He recently left his tennis academy in Europe for Los Angeles, probably to go and support Sugerpova with the upcoming baby. I find it all quite sad because I see how good he can be, and what will be lost if he is not fully committed. Tennis players seem to mature later these days but for now I don’t have much hope for Dimitrov.
As far as the other events go this week Tsonga lost in the semis of Vienna today, while Gasquet is into the Moscow final. I mention this because these two are right behind Roger in the race and it therefor directly affects him. In case you didn’t know Raonic withdrew from Basel as well, after he lost to Paire in Stockholm. So as far as the race to London goes things doesn’t look too bright for him, unless he wins Paris probably. If Gasquet wins Stockholm, which he should against Kukushkin, he will move ahead of Tsonga in the race but not ahead of Roger. He will only be 25 points behind Roger though, and things could have gotten really interesting if they were drawn in the same quarter of Basel. Tsonga will not be playing Basel so at least Roger will have a chance to put some more distance between him and Tsonga before Paris.
Home sweet home
Tsonga loves playing in Paris and have won the title before, so that could be important for Roger. As you can see things have worked out pretty well for Roger this week as far as the race to London goes. Raonic lost early in Stockholm and withdrew from Basel, while Tsonga lost today in Vienna. If Roger doesn’t qualify for London it won’t be due to a lack of assistance from the other players. If Roger makes only semis in Basel he will already be very close to qualifying. In past years you would have said he is a lock for the semis, but as things stand right now basically anything is possible. To make semis he’d have to beat Mannarino, then probably Istomin, and then maybe Dimitrov. Given that Basel has been one of his best events in the past and that it is indoors you’d have to like his chances of making semis, but like I said after Shanghai I am taking nothing for granted.
I still want to believe Roger can end the year on a relative high. If he can make semis in Basel and Paris and qualify for the semis in London as well, it would still be a pretty good way to end the year considering. Then he can start 2014 feeling pretty confident. Something I never mentioned is that Nadal withdrew from Basel which I should probably have mentioned first. That is yet another thing that helps Roger, since he gets a top 4 seeding and consequently and easier quarter final. As for the Basel tournament and its boss Roger Brennwald it is not so much of a blessing. Brennwald and Roger had that dispute about Roger’s appearance fee after which Roger elected to play without receiving any appearance fee, while Nadal was offered £500,000 from what I read today. Apparently Brennwald offered the money to Djokovic after the withdrawal of Nadal as well in a last ditch attempt to get another star player.
This Brennwald is really making himself look bad with all this nonsense. Instead of offering the money to Djokovic(who already refused a wild card in Valencia), he should have given it to Roger after trying to make Roger look bad in the press. I mean if Nadal’s withdrawal is not bad karma for Brennwald after the way he treated Roger, then I don’t know what is. But I guess Brennwald doesn’t view it that way. It appears as though he sees Roger as a threat, because it’s no secret that Roger wants to buy the Basel tournament. But how can he be a threat after everything he has done for that tournament? Brennwald is clearly not very appreciative of it and continues to undermine Roger’s loyalty to the tournament if he did indeed offer Djokovic the appearance fee. Anyway you can read more about the whole Federer/Brennwald debacle in Jonathan’s blog if you missed it.
Roger plays on Monday!