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Tennis News From 10sballs – Ricky’s Preview & Picks For This Week’s Events In Sydney & Auckland

Alex de Minaur of Australia in action during his first round match against Dusan Lajovic of Serbia at the Sydney International tennis tournament at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Sydney, Australia, 07 January 2019. EPA-EFE/CRAIG GOLDING AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Alex de Minaur of Australia in action during his first round match against Dusan Lajovic of Serbia at the Sydney International tennis tournament at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Sydney, Australia, 07 January 2019. EPA-EFE/CRAIG GOLDING

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

It’s one of those weeks right before a major, when the world’s best players are resting and titles are totally up for grabs. In fact, only one top 10 man is in action this week; it’s John Isner, who is right on the number at No. 10 in the rankings. Isner leads an Auckland draw that also features Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, and Gael Monfils. In Sydney, meanwhile, defending champion Daniil Medvedev is joined by the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2018 finalist Alex de Minaur.

 

Sydney International

Where: Sydney, Australia
Prize money: $527,880
Top seed: Stefanos Tsitsipas
Defending champion: Daniil Medvedev

 

Tsitsipas and Medvedev are two up-and-coming stars who are the cream of the crop at this Sydney tournament–and the top two seeds. Successful passage to the final would make for an intriguing championship Saturday, as they went head-to-head three times and no love was lost on any occasion. Medvedev, who is coming off a runner-up showing in Brisbane, may have the tougher draw; de Minaur is also in the bottom quarter and potential semifinal foes for the Russian are Sam Querrey and Gilles Simon. Tsitsipas will likely coast into the semis before possibly colliding with Diego Schwartzman, Lucas Pouille, or Ryan Harrison.

 

The second section of the bracket is especially notable. In addition to Schwartzman, Pouille, and Harrison, it is also home to Andrey Rublev and Yoshihito Nishioka. Rublev and Pouille are going head-to-head right away in R1. In Simon’s quarter, meanwhile, fun openers pit Querrey against Malek Jaziri and Frances Tiafoe against John Millman.

 

First-round upset possibility: Jeremy Chardy over (8) Andreas Seppi. Chardy is the highest-ranked unseeded player in the field. The Frenchman is coming off a semifinal performance in Brisbane, where he won a trio of three-set matches—including over Nick Kyrgios—before falling to Kei Nishikori. Seppi dropped his Doha opener to Rublev while taking just six total games.

 

Semifinal picks: Diego Schwartzman over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur over John Millman

Final: Schwartzman over De Minaur

 

 

ASB Classic

Where: Auckland, New Zealand
Prize money: $527,880
Top seed: John Isner
2018 champion: Roberto Bautista Agut (not playing)

 

Draw analysis: Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut would have arguably been the title favorite in his return, but he withdrew after lifting the trophy this past week in Doha. Thus the door is open for number of competitors, especially in the bottom half of the draw that Bautista Agut vacated. Steve Johnson replaced the Spaniard as the ninth seed and he is joined in an relatively soft section by Marco Cecchinato and Tennys Sandgren. Fognini, the second seed, is one a QF collision course with perhaps either Monfils or Philipp Kohlschreiber.

 

Isner is a two-time champion of this event (2010, 2014) and has to like his chances this time around. The 6’10’’ American, who is 14-5 lifetime at the ASB Classic, is coming off a consistent 2018 campaign in which he made a debut appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals. However, the winner of a difficult first-rounder between Shapovalov and Joao Sousa could cause trouble for Isner in the quarterfinals.

 

First-round upset possibility: Joao Sousa over (7) Denis Shapovalov. Of the unseeded contingent in Auckland, only Kohlschreiber is ranked higher than Sousa. The Portuguese world No. 44 may be at his best on clay, but he is a tough out on any surface. Although Shapovalov is the favorite, he playing field is level in part because of the fact that this is the first match of the year for both players.

 

Semifinal picks: Joao Sousa over Jan-Lennard Struff and Philipp Kohlschreiber over Steve Johnson

Final: Sousa over Kohlschreiber

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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