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Ricky’s Tennis Preview And Picks For This Week’s ATP Events In Rio De Janeiro, Delray Beach, And Marseille

By Ricky Dimon

We are halfway home in February; two weeks and six tournaments down, two more weeks and six more tournaments to go. The Golden Swing surges to the fore with a 500-point event in Rio de Janeiro, where Dominic Thiem takes the court for the first time since finishing runner-up at the Australian Open. In Europe, another strong field will be on display at the Open 13—featuring Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tstisipas, and Rotterdam finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime. Nick Kyrgios headlines the Delray Beach draw.

Rio Open

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

Thiem did all of the South American clay-court swing participants a favor by skipping tournaments in Cordoba and Argentina (he was never signed up for Cordoba and withdrew from Buenos Aires). The latter development paved the way for a surprising Argentina Open title match between Casper Ruud and Pedro Sousa. Ruud and Sousa could face each other again as early as round two in Rio, where the winner would likely meet Thiem in the quarterfinals. Guido Pella, Fernando Verdasco, and Pablo Cuevas are possible semifinal foes for the fourth-ranked Austrian.

This is mostly a favorable draw for Thiem, as the bottom half is loaded. That’s where Dusan Lajovic, Cordoba champion Cristian Garin, Borna Coric, Juan Ignacio Londero, and former French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato all reside. Intriguing first-rounders pit Lajovic against Cecchinato and Coric against Londero in addition to an all-Spanish affair between Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Carlos Alcaraz.  

Quarterfinal picks: Dominic Thiem over Casper Ruud, Pablo Cuevas over Fernando Verdasco, Cristian Garin over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and Juan Ignacio Londero over Dusan Lajovic

Semifinals: Thiem over Cuevas and Garin over Londero

Final: Thiem over Garin

Open 13

Where: Marseille, France
Surface: Indoor hard
Points: 250
Top seed: Daniil Medvedev

Everyone else has a chance this week, because Gael Monfils is taking a break. The Montpellier and Rotterdam champion is not part of the festivities in Marseille, where Medvedev and Tsitsipas are the top two seeds and obvious title favorites. Medvedev’s draw is tougher, as the Russian could open with Jannik Sinner before possibly running into Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals and Auger-Aliassime in the semis. David Goffin is another potential semifinal opponent for Medvedev.

That’s not to say the bottom of the bracket is weak. Tsitsipas’ section also includes Hubert Hurkacz and an in-form Vasek Pospisil. But the most intriguing quarter is where Denis Shapovalov owns a first-round bye. He is joined by Benoit Paire, Alexander Bublik, Marton Fucsovics, and Marin Cilic. Bublik and Fucsovics are going head-to-head in an intriguing first-rounder.

Semifinal picks: Daniil Medvedev over David Goffin and Stefanos Tsitsipas over Marton Fucsovics

Final: Tsitsipas over Medvedev

Delray Beach Open

Where: Delray Beach, Florida
Surface: Hard
Points
: 250Top seed: Nick Kyrgios

Which Kyrgios will show up in Delray Beach? If he treats it as an important warmup event to get his game ready for next week’s title defense in Acapulco, the Aussie is a clear title favorite. If he messes around with good friend Tommy Paul on the other side of the net in round one, Kyrgios could be out right away. You just never know with this guy. He better be motivated right from the start, because his quarter is by far the toughest. It is also includes Ugo Humbert, Kyle Edmund, Jordan Thompson, Miomir Kecmanovic, and Frances Tiafoe. Lurking elsewhere in the top half of the bracket are Taylor Fritz, John Millman, and Pune champion Jiri Vesely.

The bottom half is far weaker, although No. 2 seed Milos Raonic could have his hands full with Andreas Seppi right off the bat. It would not be a surprise to see the winner of that contest go all the way to the final. Reilly Opelka, who also has an extremely favorable draw in Delray Beach, could be a roadblock for either Raonic or Seppi in the semis.

Semifinal picks: Taylor Fritz over Ugo Humbert over Milos Raonic over Soonwoo Kwon

Final: Fritz over Raonic

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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