RICKY’S PICKS • PREVIEWS FOR TENNIS THIS WEEK’S 500-POINT EVENTS IN VIENNA AND IN “ROGERS HOME” BASEL

Written by: on 21st October 2018
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Swiss Indoors tennis tournament
RICKY'S PICKS • PREVIEWS FOR TENNIS THIS WEEK'S 500-POINT EVENTS IN VIENNA AND IN "ROGERS HOME" BASEL

epa07109160 Switzerland's Roger Federer attends a press conference at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament at the St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, 21 October 2018. EPA-EFE/GEORGIOS KEFALAS  |
Switzerland’s Roger Federer attends a press conference at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament at the St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, 21 October 2018.  EPA-EFE/GEORGIOS KEFALAS

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

There are only big-time tournaments the rest of the way this season—two 500 events this week, a Masters 1000 tournament in Paris the week after, and then the Nitto ATP Finals in London. That intriguing stretch run begins this week with 500-point festivities in Vienna and Basel. Among the top players taking the court are Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, and Kevin Anderson.

 

 

Erste Bank Open

Points: 500

Prize money: 2,788,570 Euros

Top seed: Dominic Thiem

Defending champion: Lucas Pouille

 

Vienna may not be as top heavy as Basel, but its depth puts Basel to shame. Eighteen of the 28 main-draw participants are ranked inside the top 40, and that does not even include Sam Querrey, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Frances Tiafoe. Top two seeds Thiem and Anderson could clinch spots in the Nitto ATP Finals this week, likely doing so if they reach the title match. Neither one, though, has a favorable draw (does anyone in a field this strong?). Thiem is on course to face either Tsonga or Querrey in round two before possibly running into either Kei Nishkori or Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals. Anderson opens with red-hot foe Nikoloz Basilashvili and Milos Raonic is a possible second-round opponent.

 

If either Juan Martin Del Potro or Rafael Nadal withdraws from the Nitto, the race for the last London spot is on between Nishikori and John Isner. Based on the draw, it’s advantage Isner in Basel. The 6’10’’ American, who passed Nishikori with a Stockholm semifinal after getting passed by Nishikori during the Asian swing, awaits a qualifier and would then face either Steve Johnson or a fatigued Gael Monfils (currently in the Antwerp final). Nishikori’s likely road to the semis is Tiafoe then Khachanov then Thiem.

 

First-round upset possibility: Diego Schwartzman over (8) Kyle Edmund. This would not really be much of an upset aside from the fact that Edmund is seeded. The 15th-ranked Brit is coming off a final appearance in Antwerp, so he will have had little rest before taking the court this week. Schwartzman, who made a respectable run to the Antwerp semis, dominated their only previous ATP-level encounter 6-1, 6-2 this summer in Toronto.

 

Quarterfinal picks: Dominic Thiem over Karen Khachanov, Fabio Fognini over Grigor Dimitrov, Diego Schwartzman over John Isner, and Borna Coric over Milos Raonic

Semifinals: Fognini over Thiem and Coric over Schwartzman

Final: Coric over Fognini

 

 

Swiss Indoors Basel

Prize money: 1,984,420 Euros

Points: 500

Top seed: Roger Federer

Defending champion: Roger Federer

 

Federer has played five consecutive events without winning a title—a relative slump by his lofty standards. Is a return trip to his home tournament in Basel just what the doctor ordered? The 37-year-old Swiss could not have asked for a better draw, as the unseeded contingent in the bracket’s top quarter is unspectacular and Federer’s nearest seed is a hopelessly slumping Jack Sock. He will kick off his campaign against a struggling Filip Krajinovic before possibly getting a shot at revenge on U.S. Open conqueror John Millman. In-form youngsters Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev are potential semifinal adversaries for Federer.

 

The bottom half is without question deeper, as Zverev and Cilic are joined by Stan Wawrinka, Denis Shapovlov, Matthew Ebden, and Moscow runner-up Adrian Mannarino. Wawrinka and Mannarino are going head-to-head right off the bat, while Cilic has to go up against Shapovalov. Zverev is getting things started against Robin Haase, who has won two straight matches over the German dating back to last fall.

 

First-round upset possibility: (SE) Ernests Gulbis vs. (5) Jack Sock. This would only be an upset according to ranking and seed, of course. By the end of 2018, Gulbis will likely be ranked the higher of the two. The Latvian is expected to reach at least No. 104 in the world even if he loses the Stockholm final to Tsitsipas, while Sock was No. 162 in the year-long race prior to this past week. Ironically, Gulbis got a special exemption into Basel by beating none other than Sock in the Stockholm quarters.

 

Quarterfinal picks: Roger Federer over Gilles Simon, Daniil Medvedev over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Marin Cilic over Taylor Fritz, and Alexander Zverev over Stan Wawrinka

Semifinals: Federer over Medvedev and Zverev over Cilic

Final: Zverev over Federer

 

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

 

Ed Note: Federer to win in Basel (LJ)

 

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