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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Picks For Day 5 in Paris • Carreno Busta, Tsitsipas, And More

Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in action against John Millman of Australia during their men’s first round match during the French Open.

By Ricky Dimon

Pablo Carreno Busta will try to maintain his stellar form he takes the court for round two at Roland Garros on Thursday. Carreno Busta is going up against Guido Pella, who is a tough clay-court opponent. Hamburg finalists Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are also back in action.

Guido Pella vs. (17) Pablo Carreno Busta

Carreno Busta is looking to make another deep Grand Slam run after going all the way to the U.S. Open semifinals this summer. That was, of course, assisted by Novak Djokovic’s default in the fourth round; nonetheless, the 18th-ranked Spaniard is playing stellar tennis these days. Carreno Busta got a bad draw in Rome right after his performance in New York (lost to Rafael Nadal in his opening match), but he is well-rested now and hammered John Millman 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open first round.

Up next is Pella, who trails the head-to-head series 2-1. All three of their previous meetings have come on hard courts and they split a pair of 2019 encounters, with Carreno Busta getting the job done at the U.S. Open before Pella prevailed in the Davis Cup Finals. Pella’s hard-court summer was derailed by coronavirus controversy, and his post-hiatus match record stands at just 2-3. The 37th-ranked Argentine is coming off a tough four-set win over Salvatore Caruso, but the competition level gets even tougher here. This will be somewhat competitive because of the surface, but Carreno Busta is simply playing too well right now and can hit through these conditions by playing much closer to the baseline than Pella.

Pick: Carreno Busta in 4

Pablo Cuevas vs. (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Tsitsipas and Cuevas will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers and for the second time during this clay-court swing when they meet again on Thursday. All three of their previous contests have gone Tsitsipas’ way and he is now 6-0 in total sets after prevailing 7-5, 6-4 last week in Hamburg.

After finishing runner-up at that 500-point event, Tsitsipas played just two days later and came back from two sets down to overcome Jaume Munar. Given new life on the terre battue, the sixth-ranked Greek should not have too many problems with Cuevas. The 60th-ranked Uruguayan has not been in great form over the past two years or so regardless of surface, so there is no reason to think he is suddenly going to turn the tide against his heavily favored opponent.

Pick: Tsitsipas in 3

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece hits a backhand during his first round match against Jaume Munar of Spain during the French Open.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina vs. (13) Andrey Rublev

Rublev is up to 13th in the rankings and his 2020 record stands at 26-6 after capturing the Hamburg title on Sunday. That effort almost cost him his French Open campaign before it even got off the ground, but the 22-year-old Russian managed to come back from a two-set and 5-2 deficit against Sam Querrey to triumph 6-7(5), 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday.

That wake-up call combined–most importantly–with rest means a much better performance should be in the cards for Thursday. That is bad news for Davidovich Fokina, who capitalized on a favorable draw to defeat French wild card Harold Mayot 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5 in round one. The 21-year-old Spaniard is a mere 9-16 lifetime at the ATP level, not yet ready to beat an opponent who is playing top five-level tennis–especially not at a Grand Slam.

Pick: Rublev in 3

Andrey Rublev of Russia hits a backhand in his second round match against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland at the Italian Open.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.