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Tennis 10sBalls Shares • Ricky’s Preview and Picks For This Week’s Events In Dubai, Acapulco, and Sao Paulo

Fernando Verdasco of Spain in action against Thomas Fabbiano of Italy during their first round match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 25 February 2019. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER
Fernando Verdasco of Spain in action against Thomas Fabbiano of Italy during their first round match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 25 February 2019. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

February wraps up with one of the busiest weeks on the tennis calendar: three events, two of which are 500s. And those 500-point fields in Dubai and Acapulco are not disappointing, with Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Rafael Nadal, and Alexander Zverev among those in action. As usual, Sao Paulo—the final 250-point tournament on the Golden Swing—will be overshadowed.

 

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Where: Dubai, U.A.E.
Surface: Hard
Points: 500
Top seed: Kei Nishikori

You know a field is absolutely loaded when Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Nikoloz Basilashvili are part of the unseeded contingent. That makes for a smorgasbord of intriguing first-round matchups, and those include Monfils vs. Marin Cilic, Basilashvili vs. Karen Khachanov, Federer vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber, Nishikori vs. Benoit Paire, and Borna Coric vs. Marseille runner-up Mikhail Kukushkin. Following a date with Kohlschreiber, Federer will probably see his draw get more difficult: potentially Fernando Verdasco in round two and Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals. Nishikori is on a collision course for the quarters with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who just beat Kukushkin for the Marseille title. Look for Berdych, Bautista Agut, and a red-hot Daniil Medvedev to be among those trying to capitalize on relatively favorable spots in a mostly jam-packed bracket.

Quarterfinal predictions: Kei Nishikori over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev over Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych over Roberto Bautista Agut, and Roger Federer over Milos Raonic

Semifinals: Medvedev over Nishikori and Federer over Berdych

Final: Federer over Medvedev

 

Abierto Mexicano Telcel

Where: Acapulco, Mexico
Surface: Hard
Points: 500
Top seed: Rafael Nadal

On paper, the Acapulco final is expected to be Nadal vs. Alexander Zverev. But it is the other Zverev brother—Mischa—against whom the second-ranked Spaniard will kick off his campaign this week. That is a friendly opener for Nadal as he gets back in action for the first time since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, but things will likely get tougher thereafter. Nick Kyrgios is a potential second-round opponent and Stan Wawrinka is a possible quarterfinal foe. John Isner, who is not in great form but remains dangerous every time he takes the court, also finds himself in the top half of the draw. On the other side, Zverev should benefit from a favorable path to the final while other contenders such as Frances Tiafoe and Alex de Minaur will try to spoil the party.

Quarterfinal predictions: Stan Wawrinka over Rafael Nadal, John Millman over Sam Querrey, Frances Tiafoe over Marius Copil, and Alexander Zverev over Alex de Minaur

Semifinals: Wawrinka over Millman and Zverev over Tiafoe

Final: Wawrinka over Zverev

 

Brasil Open

Where: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Surface: Clay
Points: 250
Top seed: Joao Sousa

Felix Auger-Aliassime made a surprising run to the Rio de Janeiro final, ousting Fabio Fognini and Pablo Cuevas en route. Fognini is not defending his Sao Paulo title, but Auger-Aliassime has a rematch with Cuevas right off the bat. Rio champion Laslo Djere is also getting right back in gear, and 23-year-old Serb’s draw is a kind one such that he may keep winning and face either Cuevas, Auger-Aliassime, or Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the quarterfinals. Look no further than the top four seeds with byes (Joao Sousa, Malek Jaziri, Guido Pella, and Leonardo Mayer) to know that that title is completely up for grabs. Just about everyone is in with  chance.

Semifinal predictions: Jaume Munar over Joao Sousa and Guido Pella over Albert Ramos-Vinolas

Final: Pella over Munar

 

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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