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Ricky’s Tennis Preview And Picks For This Week’s Events In Dubai, Acapulco, And Santiago

By Ricky Dimon

No month on the calendar provides as much tennis as February, which is finally coming to an end this coming week. It is going out with a bang, too, as a pair of 500-point events are on the schedule. Those are drawing both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal back to the court. Djokovic headlines the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships along with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gael Monfils, and Andrey Rublev. Nadal is joined in at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel by Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka, and Nick Kyrgios. Meanwhile, the Golden Swing wraps up with the inaugural Chile Open.

Dubai

Where: Dubai, U.A.E.
Surface: Hard
Points
: 500
Top seed: Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer’s injury means Tsitsipas has moved up the No. 2 seed, allowing the Greek to avoid Djokovic in the draw. But things won’t be easy for the Marseille winner. First, he is making a quick turnaround after lifting another trophy this past week. Additionally, his road through the bracket is not easy. Tsitsipas begins against Pablo Carreno Busta before potentially running into either Hubert Hurkacz or Alexander Bublik in round two followed by Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarterfinals. Also in the bottom half are Rubev (won Doha and Adelaide back-to-back), Fabio Fognini, and Dan Evans.

Djokovic will likely coast into the SFs, although Karen Khachanov could at least make the world No. 1 work in the QFs. Djokovic’s biggest threat prior to the title match is Monfils, who recently captured back-to-back titles in Montpellier and Rotterdam. The Frenchman will likely capitalize on extremely favorable draw prior to meeting Djokovic.

Quarterfinal picks: Novak Djokovic over Karen Khachanov, Gael Monfils over Marin Cilic, Andrey Rublev over Dan Evans, and Roberto Bautista Agut over Hubert Hurkacz

Semifinals: Djokovic over Monfils and Rublev over Bautista Agut

Final: Djokovic over Rublev

Acapulco

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

Kyrgios was unseeded last season in Acapulco and went up against Nadal in round two. There will be no rematch of the Aussie’s contentious 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(6) upset unless both players reach the final in 2020. The top-needed Nadal and the sixth-seeded Kyrgios are on opposite sides of a draw that looks favorable for the world No. 2. He will open with Pablo Andujar before possibly meeting either Alex de Minaur or Miomir Kecmanovic. Dusan Lajovic, who has been playing on clay, is Nadal’s nearest seed. Also in the top half of the bracket are Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Frances Tiafoe, and Delray Beach finalist Reilly Opelka.

Kyrgios and Zverev face tougher paths through draw. First up for Kyrgios is Auckland champion Ugo Humbert, while Taylor Fritz is a potential second-round foe and an in-form Felix Auger-Aliassime could await in the quarters. Zverev begins his week against Jordan Thompson and the German also finds himself in a section with the always-dangerous big server John Isner.

Quarterfinal picks: Rafael Nadal over Reilly Opelka, Stan Wawrinka over Grigor Dimitrov, Kyle Edmund over John Millman, and Alexander Zverev over John Isner

Semifinals: Nadal over Wawrinka and Zverev over Edmund

Final: Nadal over Zverev

Santiago

Where: Santiago, Chile
Surface: Clay
Points: 250
Top seed: Cristian Garin 

If the favorites get the job done early in Santiago, it could end up producing a more intriguing quarterfinal, semifinal, and final lineup that Rio de Janeiro. Of course, that isn’t saying a lot! Cristian Garin, who is in the Rio final, will be the home favorite at this inaugural tournament in Chile. He also triumphed in Cordoba earlier this month, so it is hard to pick against him. Although Garin may be fatigued, he should benefit from a first-round bye and will not have to play his first match until Thursday. Juan Ignacio Londero and Pablo Cuevas are potential challengers prior to the title match.

Another recent champion, Casper Ruud, is the second seed. Ruud, who triumphed in Buenos Aires, will be well-rested after bowing out early in Rio. The Norwegian will likely collide with Federico Delbonis in the last eight before a potential contest against either Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Thiago Monteiro, or Rio finalist Ginaluger Mager in the semis.

Semifinal picks: Juan Ignacio Londero over Pablo Cuevas and Casper Ruud over Thiago Monteiro

Final: Ruud over Londero

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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