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10sBalls • Tennis ATP • Ricky’s Preview and Picks For • Rio de Janeiro, Marseille, and Delray Beach

Photo by @DelrayBeachOpen via Twitter

By Ricky Dimon


We are at the halfway point of February, with six events down and six more to go. It is only getting better, too, starting with a another 500-point tournament in Rio de Janeiro, a Marseille field that is highlighted by Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gael Monfils, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Juan Martin Del Potro’s return in Delray Beach. Dominic Thiem leads the way in Rio de Janeiro, while Del Potro is joined in Delray Beach by Nick Kyrgios and John Isner.


Rio Open

Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Surface: Clay
Points: 500
Top seed: Dominic Thiem

Thiem is making a traditionally slow start to another year, but this time it looks like not even clay will cure whatever ails him. The Austrian suited up this past week on the red clay of Buenos Aires and got upset by eventual runner-up Diego Schwartzman in the SFs. Now Thiem turns to Rio, where he is the top seed and enjoys the benefit of a friendly draw in which he will likely coast into the QFs before going up against either Joao Sousa or Guido Pella. BA champion Marco Cecchinato is a potential semifinal opponent and the Italian also has a favorable path in a soft top half.

On the other side of the draw, second-seeded Fabio Fognini could get a rematch with Jaume Munar in the QFs. They just squared off in Buenos Aires, where Fognini—also seeded second—dropped his opener to the Spaniard 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Perhaps the most intriguing first-round affair pits Schwartzman against Pablo Cuevas.

Quarterfinal picks: Dominic Thiem over Joao Sousa, Marco Cecchinato over Roberto Carballes Baena, Pablo Cuevas over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and Fabio Fognini over Jaume Munar

Semifinals: Thiem over Cecchinato and Fognini over Cuevas

Final: Fognini over Thiem

Ed note: Thiem 


Open 13

Where: Marseille, France
Surface: Indoor hard
Points: 250
Top seed: Stefanos Tsitsipas

The 2018 Marseille field was severely depleted (in part due to injuries for Kyrgios and David Goffin), but the French fans have to be pleased with what the 2019 tournament has to offer. Goffin is good to go, Monfils is taking his talents from Rio—where he played last year—back to his native land, and a healthy, in-form Tsonga figures to be in the mix for a fourth career title at this tournament. Tsonga’s draw is not easy, as the Frenchman opens with Andrey Rublev before possibly running into Jeremy Chardy in round two and Denis Shapovalov in the QFs. Potential semifinal opponents are Borna Coric, Fernando Verdasco, and Ernests Gulbis. Coric may be kicking off his week against Gulbis following an opening-round bye.

Monfils has an easier draw in a softer top half, which is just what the doctor ordered given that he is making a quick turnaround from his title in Rotterdam. The eighth-seeded Frenchman should be able to plays his way into a quarterfinal against Tsitsipas, whom he beat earlier this month in Montpellier. Goffin, meanwhile, may face a French-filled path to the SFs in the form of Benoit Paire and sixth-seeded Gilles Simon.

Semifinal picks: Gilles Simon over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga over Borna Coric

Final: Tsonga over Simon

Ed note: Nope. Tsitsipas, Coric ok other 2 wont go that far.


Delray Beach Open

Where: Delray Beach, Florida
Surface: Hard
Points: 250
Top seed: Juan Martin Del Potro

Del Potro will be back in action for the first time since last October (Shanghai Masters) when he runs into another injury-plagued opponent in Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday. Still ranked an impressive No. 4, the Argentine would then collide with either Tennys Sandgren or Reilly Opelka before potentially colliding with Taylor Fritz or Mackenzie McDonald. Given that Del Potro is rusty and perhaps not 100 percent, just about all of those guys would be capable of springing an upset. Elsewhere in the top half of the draw, intriguing first-rounders are Kyrgios vs. fellow Australian John Millman and Radu Albot vs. Ivo Karlovic in a rematch of this past week’s New York Open first round.

Isner, coming off a three-tiebreaker loss to Opelka in the New York SFs, has never fared well in Delray Beach but the draw sets up nicely for him this time around. Adrian Mannarino, Isner’s nearest seed, is a hopeless 0-6 so far this season. No one in the bottom quarter of the bracket other than Brayden Schnur is in particularly fine form right now, so the 6’10” American should be able to take care of business. He could then meet Andreas Seppi or defending champion Frances Tiafoe in the semis.

Semifinal picks: Tennys Sandgren over John Millman and Andreas Seppi over John Isner

Final: Seppi over Sandgren

Editors note • nope. And Sandgren won’t go that far. 


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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