RICKY’S PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS FOR THIS WEEK’S ATP TOURNAMENTS IN HOUSTON AND MARRAKECH

Written by: on 8th April 2018
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RICKY'S PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS FOR THIS WEEK'S ATP TOURNAMENTS IN HOUSTON AND MARRAKECH

epa06635053 John Isner of the US in action against Hyeon Chung of South Korea during a menÕs quarterfinal round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 28 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER  |
John Isner of the US in action against Hyeon Chung of South Korea during a men’s quarterfinal round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 28 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

 

 

Ricky’s preview and predictions for this week’s ATP tournaments in Houston and Marrakech

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

It is probably hard to believe, but the spring clay-court swing is already upon us. The seven-week lead-up to Roland Garros is in progress with two 250-point events in Houston and Marrakech before things really start to heat up at Masters 1000 tournaments in Monte-Carlo, Rome, and Madrid. A strong field in Houston includes Miami champion John Isner. Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, and Nick Kyrgios. A less impressive draw in Marrakech features Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Kyle Edmund, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Richard Gasquet.

 

U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship

Where: Houston, Texas

Points: 250

Top seed: John Isner

Defending champion: Steve Johnson

 

In five trips to Houston, Sock has a second-round performance, a quarterfinal, a semifinal, a runner-up, and a title. His three most recent results–in order–are title, runner-up, and semifinal. But the same Sock has not been present this season, with a wretched 3-6 record and not one sequence of back-to-back match wins. This week’s No. 3 seed appears to have a difficult draw, too, with potentially Yoshihito Nishioka in his opening match, Ryan Harrison in the quarterfinals, and Isner in the semifinals. Isner is hoping to maintain momentum in a top quarter of the bracket that is American-heavy, although his second-round adversary will be either Germany’s Dustin Brown or Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.

 

Kyrgios is back in action for just his fourth tournament of the year. The oft-injured Australian, who has been productive when healthy (10-3 record in 2018), is on a collision course for what would be an intriguing and likely contentious quarterfinal contest against Fernando Verdasco. Elsewhere in the bottom half of the draw, Querrey is in section along with countrymen Tennys Sandgren, Stefan Kozlov, and Donald Young.

 

Semifinal picks: Yoshihito Nishioka over Frances Tiafoe and Guido Pella over Nick Kyrgios

Final: Nishioka over Pella

 

Grand Prix Hassan II

Where: Marrakech, Morocco

Points: 250

Top seed: Albert Ramos-Vinolas

2017 champion: Borna Coric (not playing)

 

The Grand Prix Hassan II often crowns champions from well outside the top 10 or even top 20 or 30 in the rankings. Since Juan Carlos Ferrero and Stan Wawrinka triumphed respectively in 2009 and 2010, the list of champs features Pablo Andujar, Tommy Robredo, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Martin Klizan, Federico Delbonis, and Borna Coric. The story will be something similar in 2018, because no one inside the top 20 is playing. At No. 23, Ramos-Vinolas is the top seed ahead of Edmund, Kohlschreiber, and Gasquet. Alexandr Dolgopolov is taking the court for the first time since January, while the unseeded contingent in Marrakech consists of Jan-Lennard Struff, Andreas Seppi, Gilles Simon, and Joao Sousa, among others.

 

Ramos-Vinolas could be challenged in the week’s early stages by Struff and Dolgopolov, with Kohlschreiber in the second quarter of the bracket in addition to Sousa and Robin Haase. Gasquet, Simon, and Benoit Paire could be factors in French-heavy third section of the draw. Paire and Simon have to go head-to-head in round one, with the victory possibly to run into Gasquet in the quarters. Edmund, who has struggled since making a run to the semifinals of the Australian Open, could be seriously tested in his second match by either Seppi or Radu Albot.

 

Semifinal picks: Jan-Lennard Struff over Joao Sousa and Andreas Seppi over Benoit Paire

Final: Struff over Seppi

 

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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