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ATP Tennis News: Ricky’s Preview | Picks For 10sBalls For This Week’s Events In Sofia, Montpellier, Cordoba

Photo by @OpenSuddeFrance via Twitter
“First day and first crowd bath for @tsonga7 who stopped signing autographs and take some pictures 📸 #OSDF19”

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

The Australian Open has come and gone, Davis Cup qualifying is complete, and now the February grind has arrived. As usual, the month features 12 events, three in each of four weeks, on three different surfaces (outdoor hard, indoor hard, and clay), at two different point levels (250s and 500s). It all begins in Sofia, Montpellier,and Cordoba, where Karen Khachanov, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Stan Wawrinka, David Goffin, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Fabio Fognini are among those taking the court.

 

Sofia Open

Where: Sofia, Bulgaria
Surface: Indoor hard
Top seed: Karen Khachanov
Defending champion: Mirza Basic

 

Khachanov may be the top seed, but he is unlikely to have an easy time of things in what will probably go down as one of the most impressive 250-point fields of the season. The Russian could have a tough opener on his hands against either Matteo Berrettini or Denis Istomin and he is on a collision course for the QFs with Wawrinka and for the semis with a red-hot Roberto Bautista Agut. The winner of a tough first-rounder between Andreas Seppi and Marton Fucsovics could also make some noise in the top half of the bracket.

 

In the other half, up-and-coming stars and somewhat bitter rivals Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev are in line for a semifinal showdown. Tsitsipas’ road through Sofia as he gets back in action following his SF run in Melbourne is a friendly one. Medvedev, on the other hand, likely awaits Robin Haase in his opener and either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Martin Klizan would be capable of presenting problems in the quarterfinals.

 

Semifinal picks: Roberto Bautista Agut over Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev over Stefanos Tsitsipas

Final: Bautista Agut over Medvedev

 

 

Open Sud de France

Where: Montpellier, France
Surface: Indoor hard
Top seed: Lucas Pouille
Defending champion: Lucas Pouille

 

Pouille won’t have to worry about defending 250 points from last year’s title in order to save his ranking, as he gained—from entirely out of nowhere, it should be noted—720 points with a surprising run to the Australian Open semis. The Frenchman should finally be playing with confidence (and without pressure), so he may be able to emerge from a section of the Montpellier bracket that also includes Philipp Kohlschreiber and Ernests Gulbis. In what is obviously a French-heavy bracket, potential semifinal opponents for Pouille are Tsonga, Gilles Simon, and Jeremy Chardy.

 

A similarly wide-open bottom half is home to Goffin, Denis Shapovalov, Benoit Paire, Tomas Berdych, and Ivo Karlovic. At 39 years old, Karlovic is still going strong and could give Shapovalov some serious trouble in round two. Goffin, Paire, and Berdych will duke it out in what is a difficult last quarter of the draw.

 

Semifinal picks: Gilles Simon over Lucas Pouille and Tomas Berdych over Ivo Karlovic

Final: Simon over Berdych

 

 

Cordoba Open

Where: Cordoba, Argentina
Surface: Clay
Top seed: Fabio Fognini
Defending champion: None (inaugural event)

 

The Golden Swing gets underway with this tournament that has moved from Quito to Cordoba. That is music to the ears of Argentines such as Diego Schwartzman, is certainly among the title favorites this week. The No. 3 seed’s draw is favorable, too, before he potentially runs into Fognini in the last four. In fact, Fognini’s path on paper is also laughably simple; it’s hard to see anything other than Fognini vs. Schwartzman in the top half of the bracket on semifinal Saturday.

 

Marco Cecchinato could await tougher tests at the bottom of the bracket, with up-and-coming Jaume Munar likely looming in round two and possibly Argentina’s own Leonardo Mayer in the quarterfinals. Pablo Carreno Busta, who is back on the court for the first time since his controversial Aussie exit, will have to be careful in his opener that will most likely see an in-form Cameron Norrie on the other side of the net.

 

Semifinal picks: Diego Schwartzman over Fabio Fognini and Pablo Carreno Busta over Marco Cecchinato

Final: Schwartzman over Carreno Busta

 

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

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