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ATP Rotterdam 2019 draw preview and predictions: Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov lead the field at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 9 Feb 2019
  • Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov lead the field at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament
  • ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament is live from Rotterdam from 11-17 February 2019
Kei Nishikori leads the field at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, live from Rotterdam from 11-17 February (HANS PUNZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Breaking down the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament draw and predicting the winner as Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov lead the ATP Rotterdam 500 field.

With three-time champion Roger Federer not defending his title and a fair number of injury-related withdrawals, the first ATP 500 title of 2019 looks to be up for grabs as the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament takes place on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam from 11-17 February.

World no. 7 Kei Nishikori leads the field as he looks for his second title of the season, but otherwise the keynote of the ATP Rotterdam 500 draw is youth, with Karen Khachanov, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev also among the top seeds. Will one of them nab their first ABN AMRO WTT title or will it be the more experienced likes of Milos Raonic, David Goffin or Tomas Berdych who comes through?

Top quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Kei Nishikori (1) vs Nikoloz Basilashvili (9) (1-0)
Originally slated to face Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarterfinals, the Spaniard’s withdrawal leaves top seed Kei Nishikori facing a last-eight clash with Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, if both men get that far.

After 2018’s injury travails, Nishikori has made a bright start to 2019, winning the Brisbane International title and making the Australian Open quarterfinals, although that ended in retirement. Playing Rotterdam for the first time, Nishikori is looking for the sixth title of his career on indoor hard courts, but could face an immediate hurdle in the form of Pierre-Hugues Herbert, the lanky Frenchman who’s played well to reach the Montpellier semifinals (although Herbert would have to make a swift transition). 

Should Nishikori beat Herbert, Denis Shapovalov is a likely second-round opponent in what would be a must-watch match. The two are 1-1. 

Basilashvili, meanwhile, also has to contend with a tough path: He starts off against 2018’s Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung, although the South Korean player has struggled for form, and will face either 2016 champion Martin Klizan or Marton Fucsovics, into the final of the Sofia Open this week and playing good tennis, for a place in the quarterfinals. Still, the Georgian won two 500-level titles in 2018 and should not be underestimated, although a shock defeat to Daniel Brands in Sofia last week isn’t auspicious. 

Semifinalist: Nishikori (5/1 @ Ladbrokes to win the tournament)

Second quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Milos Raonic (4) vs Lucas Pouille (6) (3-1)
This quarter could see a rematch of the Australian Open quarterfinal which saw Milos Raonic dealt a shock defeat by Lucas Pouille, who surged back into the conversation after a troubled 2018. 

Raonic, who made the semifinals of Rotterdam on his only previous appearance, also staked his claim to be very much back in the contender conversation with his Australian Open run, which ended disappointingly but included wins over Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka. The big-serving Canadian has rarely been fit in recent times but if he is, he’s a formidable player and based on his Melbourne form, you would back him against first-round opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber and in a potential rematch with Wawrinka, who faces BFF Benoit Paire in the first round. 

Pouille lost the only match he has played since Melbourne to Marcos Baghdatis in Montpellier last week – will he do better in Rotterdam? He could have a very tough match against Tomas Berdych in the second round, with the Czech a Rotterdam champion in 2014 and a finalist in 2015. Berdych has been playing well of late, although he was troubled by a blister in a semifinal defeat to Pierre-Hugues Herbert in Montpellier. Expect the Czech to bust up the Australian Open rematch for Raonic and Pouille.

Semifinalist: Raonic (11/2 @ Ladbrokes to win the tournament)

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal: David Goffin (8) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) (2-2)
The new hope of men’s tennis, Australian Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, might be having a little trouble adjusting to his new status if a straight-sets defeat to Gael Monfils in Sofia last week is anything to go by. 

The third seed opens against Damir Dzumhur, who’s 0-3 in 2019 but a good player, and could face Robin Haase – always a dangerous player because of his power, although he’s 6-10 in Rotterdam and doesn’t seem to relish playing at home – or Mikhail Kukushkin in the second round.

Goffin, now out of the top 20, was a finalist in Rotterdam in 2017 and a semifinalist in 2018, although he had an early loss to Filip Krajinovic in Montpellier last week. The Belgian has Gael Monfils in the first round, although with Monfils a semifinalist at least in Sofia this week that’s not as bad a draw as it might appear, and Andreas Seppi in the second – a good draw that should see him through to the semifinals in Rotterdam for the third straight year.

Semifinalist: Goffin (16/1 @ Ladbrokes to win the tournament)

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Daniil Medvedev (5) vs Karen Khachanov (2) (1-1)
Karen Khachanov’s win on indoor hard courts at the Paris Masters at the end of 2018 raised expectations for the Russian in 2019, but so far he’s not been living up to them, with defeats to Stan Wawrinka in Doha, Roberto Bautista Agut in Melbourne and Matteo Berrettini in Sofia on his resume. 

Opening against wildcard Tallon Griekspoor should let Khachanov get himself on the board in Rotterdam, but he’s set for a probable second-round clash with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, if Tsonga is able to make the quick turnaround from Montpellier where he has reached the final. 

Daniil Medvedev is also in a final on Sunday in Sofia, where he faces Marton Fucsovics. The Russian is a superb player on indoor hard courts, but he has to make a very quick turnaround and has some good players in his path – Jeremy Chardy in the first round, and a possible second-round clash with Fernando Verdasco. Nevertheless, he looks the likeliest player to make it out of a packed and unpredictable quarter.

Semifinalist: Medvedev (6/1 @ Ladbrokes to win the tournament)

Semifinals: Raonic d. Nishikori
Medvedev d. Goffin

Final: Medvedev d. Raonic

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament tennis is live from Rotterdam from 11-17 February 2019

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ATP Rotterdam 2019 draw preview and predictions: Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov lead the field at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament

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