The African Tennis Swing. A Preview of the Continents One And Only ATP Event.
Marrakech makes its ATP Debut
The bustling Moroccan city of Marrakech makes its debut on the tennis circuit this coming week as the ATP Tour sweeps into Africa for the Grand Prix Hassan II clay court event and its only stop on the continent this year.
The tournament has relocated from its traditional homestead at the Complexe Al Amal in Casablanca to the Royal Tennis Club of Marrakech. The relocation forms part of the Moroccan ruler King Mohammed VI’s strategy to develop the inland city as a tourism hotspot. Sport is playing a major role in this with Marrakech now hosting a WTA tournament to go with established World Touring Car Championship, Formula Two and Auto GP races.
The top seed for the ATP 250 event is perennial attendee and 38th ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The 32 year old Spanish veteran won the title in 2014 but did not enjoy a happy return last year when suffering a surprise first round exit at the hands of Moroccan based wildcard Lamine Ouahab in straight sets.
Garcia-Lopez will also face stern opposition from the second seed Joao Sousa, winner of the Valencia Open last year and a tough customer on the red dirt. Sousa has had a difficult start to the year winning only 3 times in 11 starts but expect him to fare better here on his preferred surface.
Many eyes will be trained on rising youngster Borna Ćorić. The 19 year old Croatian is considered to be one of the future stars of the sport and already features heavily in the ATP’s “Nextgen” campaign to market the younger players on the rise.
Ćorić is regarded as an all-surface player but will be confident on clay having previously reached the semi-finals of the Junior French Open and making the 3rd round in his first senior Roland Garros campaign last year.
2015 champion Martin Klizan is not returning to defend his title and the seeding for the tournament is rounded off as follows:
1 G. Garcia-Lopez
2 J. Sousa
3 B. Coric
4 F. Delbonis
5 T. Gabashvili
6 A. Ramos-Vinolas
7 P. Carreno Busta
8 J. Vesely
Marrakech enjoys a hot dry climate with average temperature highs of 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 60% humidity.