The St. Petersburg Open kicks off in Russia today and GMS contributor Mohamed Ismail gives you the run down on the ATP 250 event.

Place: St. Petersburg, Russia
Category: ATP World Tour 250
Date: 16.09.2013-22.09.2013
Draw Size: S-32 D-16
Surface: Indoor Hard
Prize Money: $455,775

First Quarter

World no. 17, Fabio Fognini enters the fray as the number one seed, following a run of form that saw him progress to three ATP finals in a span of one month.

He won the Stuttgart and Hamburg titles, whilst defeating Gael Monfils and Kohlschreiber in the process. The Italian is set to play Spaniard Albert Ramos in the second round. However, the hard court of St. Petersburg should swing the game in Fognini’s favour. 

Lukas Rosol, the man renowned for his 2012 Wimbledon victory over Rafael Nadal, is set to play Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis in the first round. The game is set to be a pretty tight ordeal. Neither player is in particularly good form, but that shouldn’t matter, as the winner will have to eventually play Fognini or Ramos, an unlikely task.

Semi-finalist: Fabio Fognini

Second Quarter

By far the most difficult quarter of the draw to predict, the performances of Latvian Ernests Gulbis will determine the outcome of this lot. On his day, Gulbis is practically unstoppable. But the world no. 36 is also known to frequently crash and burn, as evidenced by his surprising first round loss to Haider-Maurer in the US Open.

The perennial favourite of this section of the draw, Janko Tipsarevic, has been handed an ominous opening draw. To progress from the quarter, the Serbian number two will likely have to defeat Bautista Agut, Adrian Mannarino (a dangerous number) and Gulbis/Gimeno-Traver in that order, a tough ask for anyone, considering this is only a 250 tournament. A potential loss to Mannarino is a very real possibility.

Semi-finalist: Ernests Gulbis

Third Quarter

Spaniard Fernando Verdasco features in the third quarter and will look to regain the form that once compelled pundits to compare him to Rafael Nadal. Verdasco will open his title pursuit against Sergiy Stakhovsky, the man who defeated Roger Federer in the third round of Wimbledon this year.

The winner is likely to eventually play one of Horacio Zeballos, Marcos Baghdatis or Dmitry Tusurnov. Baghdatis and Tusurnov both made it to the third round of the US Open before falling to eventual semi-finalists, Stanislav Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet respectively. However, the Cypriot took out the big-serving Kevin Anderson in the process, whereas Tusurnov progressed via the retirement of Guillaume Rufin.

Semi-finalist: Marcos Baghdatis

Fourth Quarter

This section is made relevant by the appearances of Denis Istomin and Mikhail Youzhny. Uzbek Istomin enjoyed an impressive US Open campaign, with wins over Almagro, Kamke, Seppi and took the first set from Andy Murray.

Youzhny, however, went one step further. The dangerous Russian attained victory over Dolgopolov, Haas, Hewitt and won a set from eventual finalists, Novak Djokovic.

Whilst they are talented, Garcia-Lopez and Golubev should pose no threat to Istomin and Youzhny.

Semi-finalist: Mikhail Youzhny

Finalists: Fabio Fognini & Mikhail Youzhny

Winner: Mikhail Youzhny. The fan favourite, Youzhny should recapture his home tournament title, having not won the event since 2004. 

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