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RICKY’S PREVIEW AND PICKS FOR THIS WEEK’S ATP TENNIS EVENTS IN EASTBOURNE AND ANTALYA IN TURKEY

Photo by Alejandro Gonzalez for 10sBalls

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Draws have been unkind to Andy Murray iso far in his comeback to tennis. At the Fever-Tree Championships this past week, the Scot had to face Nick Kyrgios in the first round and he would have run into fellow Brit Kyle Edmund if he had managed to advance past Kyrgios. Now at this week’s Nature Valley International in Eastbourne, the former world No. 1 kicks off his campaign against fellow injury-plagued star Stan Wawrinka and the winner will meet none other than Edmund in round two. They are joined in a strong field field by Denis Shapovalov, David Ferrer, and top-seeded Diego Schwartzman.

 

The second-ever Antalya tournament features a less impressive field, including Fernando Verdasco, Gael Monfils, No. 1 seed Adrian Mannarino, and defending champion Yuichi Sugita.

 

Nature Valley International

Where: Eastbourne, Great Britain

Prize money: 661,085 Euros

Top seed: Diego Schwartzman

Defending champion: Denis Istomin

 

As they do almost all of the time with a Grand Slam looming the following week, the top players on tour are obviously resting in advance of Wimbledon. But thanks in part to the rust that must be shaken off for Murray and Wawrinka—who need more matches before arriving at SW19—Eastbourne boasts an unusually commendable field. With Murray, Wawrinka, and Edmund all in the same eighth of the draw, though, at least two of the marquee names will exit prior to the quarterfinals. A loaded bottom half of the bracket is also home to Shapovalov, Ferrer, Mischa Zverev, Steve Johnson, Jared Donaldson, and Taylor Fritz. Shapovalov awaits the winner of Donaldson vs. Fritz and could collide with either Zverev, Johnson, or Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals.

 

The fact that Schwartzman and Marco Cecchinato are the two first-round bye recipients in the top half of the draw makes this look like a clay-court event instead of grass festivities. Schwartzman is the midst of another impressive year that has him on the brink of the top 10 (currently 11th), but he is nothing better than hopeless on the green stuff. Cecchinato’s ranking soared with an amazing run to the French Open semis. Like the Argentine, though, the Italian generally avoids grass like the plague. Marton Fucsovics, Ryan Harrison, Gilles Muller, and Andreas Seppi are among those who could take advantage of this opportunity with both Schwartzman and Cecchinato likely to go out early.

 

Semifinal predictions: Gilles Muller over Ryan Harrison and Kyle Edmund over Mischa Zverev

Final: Edmund over Muller

 

Turkish Airlines Open

Where: Antalya, Turkey

Prize money: 426,145 Euros

Top seed: Adrian Mannarino

Defending champion: Yuichi Sugita

 

Last summer’s inaugural Antalya tournament resulted in kind of title match that you often see the week before a major—an all-unseeded contest between Mannarino and Sugita. A rematch for the title is possible, because Mannarino and Sugita are on opposite sides of a weak bracket. This time they both find themselves seeded; in fact, Mannarino headlines the the field as the No. 1 seed. It would be fair to call the Frenchman a grass-court specialist and he should be able to make his way through a friendly draw, perhaps being tested only by fellow grass lover Florian Mayer in the quarters. Monfils, the other first-round bye recipient on that side, has been woeful in 2018 since beginning it with the Doha title.

 

Verdasco, who fell to Mannarino in a three-setter in last year’s Antalya quarters, is clear favorite in the bottom half. The veteran should not have to contend with anything more than Sugita, Dusan Lajovic, Damir Dzumhur, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and/or Marius Copil on his potential path to the championship round. Sugita, Dzumhur, Herbert, and Copil are all in the bottom section away from Verdasco, so the Spaniard could meet just one of them in the semis.

 

Semifinal predictions: Adrian Mannarino over Robin Haase and Fernando Verdasco over Pierre-Hugues Herbert

Final: Mannarino over Verdasco

 

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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