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Tennis 10sBalls • Ricky’s Preview & Picks For This Week’s Tourneys In Adelaide & Auckland

By Ricky Dimon

The Australian Open is just one week away, so most of the top plays in the world will be making their way from the ATP Cup to Melbourne. At the same time, Adelaide and Auckland are just the second and third traditional tournaments of the year (Doha took place in week one). As such, plenty of guys are eager to fine-tune their games at those two events in preparation for the first Grand Slam of 2020. Among those in action are Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, Alex de Minaur, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Andrey Rublev.

Adelaide International

Where: Adelaide, Australia
Prize money
: $546,355
Top seed: Alex de Minaur
Defending champion: Inaugural event

De Minaur has always played his best tennis Down Under and the ATP Cup was no exception. The 20-year-old Australian lost twice, but those were high-quality thrillers against Rafael Nadal and Dan Evans. He should have no trouble reaching at least the semifinals in Adelaide, where—on a hard court—he would be a heavy favorite to avenge a Roland Garros loss to Pablo Carreno Busta if the Spaniard also advances. Carreno Busta could have a difficult opener on his hands against either Gilles Simon or Jeremy Chardy.

A de Minaur-Evans rematch in the Adelaide final could be in store, as the red-hot Brit landed in the bottom half of the draw. Evans may be unseeded, but he has to like his chances of doing real damage this week. His only serious threat may be Rublev, who has to be fatigued following his Doha title and is probably more interested in making his way to Melbourne than playing the vulture role at another 250-point tournament. Auger-Aliassime, seeded second, is hopelessly out of form and probably won’t make it past the quarters.

First-round upset alert: (Q) Lloyd Harris over (6) Christian Garin. This would be an upset on clay, but on a hard court Harris should actually be considered the favorite. The South African played very well at the ATP Cup, winning one match (against Chile, ironically) and losing only to Simon and Dusan Lajovic in three sets. Garin went 0-3 and did not win even one set.

Semifinal picks: Alex de Minaur over Pablo Carreno Busta and Dan Evans over Jan-Lennard Struff

Final: de Minaur over Evans

ASB Classic

Where: Auckland, New Zealand
Prize money
: $546,355
Top seed: Fabio Fognini
Defending champion: Tennys Sandgren

An all-American showdown between former champions could be the story in the early rounds of this event.  Sandgren lifted the trophy just last year and he is expected to meet two-time Auckland winner John Isner following a first-round date with underdog wild card Michael Venus. The Sandgren-Isner winner should have a decent shot at reaching the semifinals, at which point Shapovalov could await. Shapovalov will likely open against Joao Sousa before possibly facing Casper Ruud, who played outstanding tennis at the ATP Cup.

Hubert Hurkacz, another ATP Cup star, lurks on the other side of the bracket. Hurkacz vs. Frances Tiafoe could be a fun one in the last 16, although the Pole would be a considerable favorite based on current form. Meanwhile, the top-seeded Fognini will begin his campaign against the winner of an all-Spanish affair between Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Andujar. Also in the top half are Karen Khachanov, Benoit Paire, and Jannik Sinner.

First-round upset alert: (WC) Jannik Sinner over (5) Benoit Paire. Sinner wrapped up his 2019 season in incredible form, highlighted by a title at the NextGen ATP Finals. As we saw once again at the ATP Cup, Paire is an easily combustible player and he could crumble mentally against what is sure to be a barrage of impressive shot-making by Sinner.

Semifinal picks: Hubert Hurkacz over John Millman and Denis Shapovalov over Sandgren

Final: Shapovalov over Hurkacz

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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