TENNIS • LAVER CUP • THIEM, ZVEREV, ISNER AMONG THOSE IN SINGLES ACTION ON DAY 1

Written by: on 21st September 2017
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Laver Cup tennis tournament
TENNIS • LAVER CUP • THIEM, ZVEREV, ISNER AMONG THOSE IN SINGLES ACTION ON DAY 1

epa06215435 A general view of crowd cheering members of Team Europe and Team World during the welcome parade of the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic, 20 September 2017. The first Laver Cup will be held in Prague, Czech Republic, from 22 to 24 September 2017. It is a three-day tournament pitting a team of the six best tennis players from Europe against six opponents from the rest of the world. The tournament has been named in honor of Australian tennis legend Rod Laver. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK  |

By Ricky Dimon

 

The first-ever Laver Cup will get started on Friday in Prague, Czech Republic. Three singles matches and one doubles match are on the schedule–just as they will be on Saturday and Saturday. Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev among those taking the court for Team Europe, while Team World is led by John Isner.

 

In Friday’s doubles tilt, Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych are going up against Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock.

 

Ricky previews the action and makes his predictions.

 

Marin Cilic (Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (World)

 

Cilic and Tiafoe will be squaring off for the first time in their careers (unofficially, as this does not count in the official records). When healthy, Cilic has been in stellar form of late. The fifth-ranked Croat reached the Wimbledon final (lost to Roger Federer) before not playing again until the U.S. Open due to an adductor issue. He advanced two rounds at Flushing Meadows and recently dominated a pair of Davis Cup World Group Playoffs singles rubbers against Colombia. Tiafoe, who extended Federer to five sets at the U.S. Open, replaced a fatigued Juan Martin Del Potro on the world roster for the Laver Cup festivities. The 72nd-ranked American may be a bit out of his league, and it would not be surprising if he tries just a little too hard to prove that he belongs.

 

Pick: Cilic in 2

 

Dominic Thiem (Europe) vs. John Isner (World)

 

On paper, Team World is a significant underdog. Isner, who is the world’s second highest-ranked player (just one place behind Sam Querrey at No. 17), would be the sixth highest-ranked man on the European side. The 6’10” American will have to be one of the leaders for his side, starting with a battle against Thiem. They have split two previous meetings, as Thiem got the job done 7-6(5), 6-3 on the clay courts of Nice in 2015 before Isner cruised 7-5, 6-1 later that year in Beijing. Both men recently wasted huge opportunities at the U.S. Open. Thiem blew a two-set lead over Del Potro in the fourth round, while Isner–in a wide-open bottom half of the bracket–fell to Mischa Zverev in straight sets during third-round action. Overall, though, Isner enjoyed another productive summer on the U.S. hard courts. On this surface he should have a great chance versus Thiem; which would not be the case at all on, say, clay.

 

Pick: Isner in 3

 

Alexander Zverev (Europe) vs. Denis Shapovalov (World)

 

This is an intriguing showdown between two rising stars. Whereas Zverev is the far more established of the duo, it is Shapovalov who has taken the ATP World Tour by storm over the past few months. The 18-year-old Canadian made a run to the Montreal semis with an upset of Nadal along the way, qualified for the U.S. Open main draw, and took out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to a fourth-round appearance. It was none other than Zverev who ended Shapovalov’s breakout week at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, defeating the crowd favorite 6-4, 7-5. The 20-year-old German, who is already up to fourth in the rankings, will be eager to make amends for his loss to another up-and-comer–Borna Coric–in the U.S. Open second round. He won’t be treating this as any kind of exhibition.

 

Pick: Zverev 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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