ATP 500 Series: ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

We preview this week's ABN Amro World Tennis Tournamnet set to take place between 12 February and 18 February in Rotherdam. 

This week sees the first ATP 500 Series event of the calendar, with the indoor hardcourts of Rotterdam playing host to the tennis elite this week. The first edition of this event was staged way back in 1974 and was won by Dutch tennis star Tom Okker. Dutch fans had to wait till 2005 until now tournament director Richard Krajicek won the event. 

This week’s event has added prestige owing to the tentative position of the World Number One ranking. With Rafael Nadal set to return in Acapulco, Roger Federer has the opportunity to return to the number one spot should he reach the semi-finals here. Twice a winner of this event, in 2005 and 2012, Federer also has the chance to smash Andre Agassi’s record of being the world’s oldest number 1 player at 36.

Past Winners
2017: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
2016: Marti Klizan 
2015: Stan Wawrinka
2014: Tomas Berdych
2013: Juan Martin Del Potro


First Quarter
Federer’s quest to end the week as the number one player in the world is by no means straightforward. Ruben Bemelmans- his first round opponent- who knocked Lucas Pouille out of Melbourne in the opening round- is especially impressive when you see what Pouille just did in Montpelier. He also has one of the up and coming Russians in his draw- Karen Khachenov- while a familiar friend may just turn out to be foe. Stan Wawrinka’s journey back to full fitness had some very encouraging signs in Sofia last week. He managed a semi-final appearance there and he could very well be Roger’s quarterfinal opponent. Outside of Rafa, perhaps nobody knows Federer’s game as well as his compatriot. Having said all that, Federer will be doubly motivated and should come through this section. 

Second Quarter
Alex Zverev is fast becoming one of the more frustrating players on tour. Were it not for the pesky matter of five-set Grand Slam tennis, Zverev may very well be the number one player in the world looking at the last year. So he will welcome a return to the best of three set format this week. He has the pugnacious David Ferrer to contend with in the first round while Joao Sousa may be his next encounter. Gilles Muller carries partisan hopes and faces a stern test against yet another Russian- Danil Medvedev. But perhaps the biggest threat to Zverev in this group lies in the form of Montpelier finalist Richard Gasquet. I feel like there could be some value in Gasquet this week, especially considering the way he played against Federer in Melbourne.

Third Quarter
Fourth seeded David Goffin once again performed below expectations in Montpellier. There is just something unconvincing about him- far too unconvincing to invest your money in. He also has a tough first round match against Benoit Paire. Tomas Berdych won the event in 2014 and was runner-up the next year. The first round match against Mischa Zverev could be quite tricky, especially given the sheer amount of times the German comes to the net. I think that Berdych could emerge from this quarter- which to me seems the least competitive of the tournament.

Fourth Quarter
Lucas Pouille’s victory over Gasquet in capturing the Open Sud De France really cemented his status as one of the most upwardly mobile players on the tour. Pouille does however have a tough first match against another upwardly mobile player- Andrey Rublev. Grigor Dimitrov has been talking himself up prior to this tournament and enters the event as the number two seed. I think, giving what a said earlier about the third quarter that his path towards the final remains the clearest of all the players-Federer included. I think the Bulgarian has the chance to win this week, while Federer will reclaim the number one spot. 

Written by Damien Kayat for

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