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Ricky’s Tennis Picks • Madrid Masters | Djokovic vs. Fritz And Ferrer vs. Bautista Agut

Taylor Fritz of the USA in action against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during their first round match of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica complex in Madrid, Spain, 06 May 2019. EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTIN
Taylor Fritz of the USA in action against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during their first round match of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica complex in Madrid, Spain, 06 May 2019. EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTIN

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

First-round action well conclude and the second round will get underway on Day 3 at the Mutua Madrid Open. Novak Djokovic is beginning his week against Taylor Fritz, while David Ferrer may be playing the last match of his career. Ferrer, who is calling it quits in Madrid, is facing fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.

 

Ricky previews three of the best matches on Tuesday and makes his predictions.

 

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Taylor Fritz

Fritz has picked up one of the best wins of the tournament so far, beating Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(8), 7-6(4) in the opening round on Monday. The 21-year-old American fired 15 aces while double-faulting only once and came up with clutch tennis in the tiebreakers to advance after one hour and 47 minutes. It has already been a productive week for multiple up-and-coming Americans, in fact, as Reilly Opelka (d. Pablo Carreno Busta) and Frances Tiafoe (d. Nikoloz Basilashvili) joined Fritz in the last 32. As for Fritz, he has now won eight ATP-level matches in 2019 and registers at 57th in the rankings.

The world No. 1 awaits on Tuesday. Djokovic has won each of the last three Grand Slams, but he has cooled off with surprising losses in Indian Wells (to Philipp Kohlschreiber), Miami (to Roberto Bautista Agut), and Monte-Carlo (to Daniil Medvedev). Thus this a good opportunity for Fritz to be competitive, even though he just lost his first-ever meeting with Djokovic 6-3, 6-0 a few weeks ago in Monte-Carlo.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

 

(WC) David Ferrer vs. Roberto Bautista Agut

David Ferrer of Spain in action during his second round men's single match against Mischa Zverev of Germany at the 67th Barcelona Open Trofeo Conde de Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, 23 April 2019.  EPA-EFE/ALEJANDRO GARCIA

David Ferrer of Spain in action during his second round men’s single match against Mischa Zverev of Germany at the 67th Barcelona Open Trofeo Conde de Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, 23 April 2019. EPA-EFE/ALEJANDRO GARCIA

Bautista Agut and Ferrer will be meeting for fourth time in their careers and for the first time outside of majors. Ferrer leads the head-to-head series 2-1, having gotten the best of RBA twice in 2013 (Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) before Bautista Agut prevailed 7-5, 6-7(6), 7-6(3), 6-4 at the 2017 U.S. Open. This may be the last time we see Ferrer on the match court, but don’t count him out just yet. The 37-year-old is still a formidable competitor; he has advanced at least one round in all five of his tournaments in 2019 and is coming off consecutive third-round showings in Miami and Barcelona.

With a stellar 17-6 record this season, Bautista Agut finds himself at No. 21 in the world. The Spaniard is not quite as red hot at the moment as he was in January, February, and March, with a second-round exit from the Monte-Carlo Masters and a semifinal loss last week in Munich to Matteo Berrettini. An inspired Ferrer will have the fans behind him and based on the way he is playing a minor upset is not out of the question.

Pick: Ferrer in 3

 

(13) Borna Coric vs. Lucas Pouille

Borna Coric of Croatia returns the ball to Fabio Fognini of Italy during their quarter final match at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 19 April 2018.  EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

Borna Coric of Croatia returns the ball to Fabio Fognini of Italy during their quarter final match at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 19 April 2018. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

Pouille is saddled with a losing record at the ATP level this year (5-7) that has him down at 28th in the rankings. As such, the 25-year-old Frenchman went back to the Challenger circuit last week and promptly secured a title Bordeaux. Still, Pouille did not defeat anyone in the top 100 and he has lost his opening match at six of seven main-tour events this season.

First up for Pouille in Madrid is a fourth career contest against Coric, who leads the head-to-head series 2-1. All three of their previous meetings have come on hard courts, with Coric emerging victorious in 2016 (Indian Wells) and 2018 (Vienna) before Pouille won earlier in 2019 via a 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5, 7-6(2) decision to improbably reach the Australian Open quarterfinals. But it is the 15th-ranked Croat who has a clear edge in form at the moment, enjoying trips to the QFs of three straight tournaments–including Masters in Miami and Monte-Carlo.

Pick: Coric in 2

 

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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