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Tennis News • Ricky’s Picks For Thursday, Including Tiafoe vs. Nishioka And Khachanov vs. Kohlschreiber

Frances Tiafoe from the USA in action during his first round martchagainst Mikhail Kukushkin from Kazakhstan at the Estoril Open Tennis tournament in Cascais, near Lisbon, Portugal, 30 April 2019. EPA-EFE/JOSE SENA GOULAO
Frances Tiafoe from the USA in action during his first round martchagainst Mikhail Kukushkin from Kazakhstan at the Estoril Open Tennis tournament in Cascais, near Lisbon, Portugal, 30 April 2019. EPA-EFE/JOSE SENA GOULAO

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Second-round action wraps up in Estoril and Munich on Thursday. Among those in action are Frances Tiafoe, Karen Khachanov, and Philipp Kohlschreiber. Fabio Fognini had been on the Estoril schedule but withdrew.

 

Ricky previews three of the best matches and makes his predictions.

 

Estoril: (8) Frances Tiafoe vs. Yoshihito Nishioka

Tiafoe and Nishioka will be squaring off for the second time in their careers and for the first time on the main tour when they battle for a spot in the Estoril Open quarterfinals. Their only previous meeting came in the final of the 2016 Winnetka Challenger, where Nishioka prevailed 6-3, 6-2.

Nishikori has torn an ACL and returned with a vengeance since then, while Tiafoe has been on a steady rise. The 21-year-old American, who up to No. 31 in the world, had reached two ATP finals–including a runner-up showing in Estoril last season to go along with a title in Delray Beach. Tiafoe took care of Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 7-5 in round one on Tuesday, while Nishioka downed Makenzie McDonald 6-2, 6-4 on Monday.

Pick: Tiafoe in 3

 

Munich: Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (2) Karen Khachanov

Khachanov and Kohlschreiber will be facing each other for the fourth time in their careers in this BMW Open second-round showdown. To say it has been an entertaining head-to-head series–which Kohlschreiber leads 2-1–would be an understatement. Each of their two most recent tilts required a final-set tiebreaker, with Kohlschreiber surviving on both occasions; 3-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(5) indoors in Rotterdam last season and 7-5, 6-7(7), 7-6(6) a few months later in Rome.

Although the rankings may suggest otherwise, Kohlschreiber has to like his chances of making it three straight. Munich is by far the best tournament of the 35-year-old German’s career, as he boasts an incredible 34-11 record following Monday’s victory over Andreas Seppi. Kohlschreiber has won it three times and has also finished runner-up three times–including last spring (lost to Alexander Zverev). Khachanov, meanwhile, is an alarming 7-9 in 2019 and is currently saddled with a four-match losing streak.

Pick: Kohlschreiber in 2

 

Munich: Denis Kudla vs. Mattero Berrettini

Berrettini had had dropped five matches in succession at the ATP level before capturing the second title of his career last week in Budapest. Up to 37th in the world, the 23-year-old Italian defeated four opponents ranked between No. 33 and No. 74 before scraping past world No. 105 Filip Krajinovic in Sunday’s final.

Surprisingly, Berrettini and Kudla will be meeting for the fifth time in their careers. Kudla leads the head-to-head series 3-1, including 2-0 in main draws. The American prevailed 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in round one of the 2018 U.S. Open and 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 earlier this year in Dubai. But the story is a different one now, as Berrettini has arrived whereas Kudla is a dreadful 4-10 on the main tour in 2019.

Pick: Berrettini in 2

 

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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