The most difficult tournament to pronounce is here and what a line up Dutch tennis fans have in store! The first ATP and WTA grass tournament (at the same time as WTA Nottingham) brings a world class field, especially on the ATP side.
Cilic top seed ahead of strong competition
After a fantastic French Open, Marin Cilic will hope to continue his excellent form in The Netherlands. The former US Open champion tops the bill at s-Hertogenbosch and will be challenged by Sasha Zverev who will want to put his Parisian nightmare behind him. Zverev has accepted a late wild card after his early exit at Roland Garros . Hopefully he will put that setback behind him and enjoy a successful grass court season.
Ivo Karlovic, home favourite Robin Haase and in-form Aljaz Bedene will also be looking for a strong start this month. Home expectation will be low for Haase, who has only one main draw victory at Wimbledon and a first round defeat at this tournament last year. He did reach the Semi Finals the year before, but it’s hard to make a case for the Dutchman.
Mahut aiming for title number four
I always forget Nicolas Mahut’s record at s-Hertogenbosch. Amazingly, he has won three of the last four tournaments, defeating Stan Wawrinka, David Goffin and Gilles Muller in the finals. Impressive stuff. But can Mahut win it again?
Mahut has endured a poor half of the season. A good run at the Miami Open has been overshadowed by disappointing results. The Frenchman flopped at Roland Garros, losing to qualifier Simone Bolelli, and will be under pressure to defend his ranking points. It’s always difficult to bet against a three-time champion, even when results aren’t going your way (compare Sabine Lisicki’s form at Wimbledon to the rest of her year), however I can’t see Mahut adding to his three titles.
Cibulkova headlining women’s draw
Former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova is having a horrible year. Her place in the world’s top 10 is hanging by a thread, with huge points to defend from now until the end of the year, and must start performing on the grass. In the Singles Race, the Slovak is currently sitting at number 22 and must take advantage of heading to The Netherlands as the number one seed.
Her competition is strong. Defending champion Coco Vandeweghe is back, lacking confidence despite making her breakthrough semi final appearance in Melbourne. She reached the final without facing a higher ranked player last year, before impressively dismantling Kiki Mladenovic in the final. Mladenovic is listed as playing the Ricoh Open after her impressive run in Paris. Whether she will be on top form is questionable after a tournament of high emotions.
Other names to look out for are home favourite and third seed Kiki Bertens, former Nottingham Open champion Ana Konjuh and the ever-improving Kristyna Pliskova.
Both tournaments should be excellent and I think it’s going to be difficult to predict. It’s a real shame David Goffin won’t be playing due to his injury, as I think he would have been the champion. Instead, I’m going to go with Marin Cilic. Sorry that’s boring, but I can’t see anyone beating the Croat. I’ll also predict Vasek Pospisil to make at least the last eight. He starts qualifying against Dutch wild card Matwe Middelkoop.
As for the women’s draw, I’m going to go for an Ana Konjuh victory. Konjuh has a good record on the grass and could sneak her way to the latter stages, especially as all eyes will be on the higher profiled players Radwanska and Bertens.