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Ricky’s Preview and Picks for the ATP 250 Murray River Open in Melbourne Tennis

Frances Tiafoe is scheduled to face Corentin Moutet in his Murray River Open opener. EPA-EFE/JASON SZENES

By Ricky Dimon

The draws for the first two ATP events of the Australian summer were released on Saturday, with the inaugural Murray River Open headlining the upcoming festivities.

Among the seeds at this Melbourne-based 250 event are Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Borna Coric, Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz, Ugo Humbert, Dan Evans, Lorenzo Sonego, Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios, and Richard Gasquet. In a field of 56 players, the top eight seeds have byes to the second round.

Wawrinka is the No. 1 seed and finds himself in a quarter of the draw along with Fritz, Cilic, Gasquet, and Gilles Simon. The 18th-ranked Swiss awaits either Mikhail Kukushkin or Juan Ignacio Londero in his opening match before possibly running into Gasquet or Thanasi Kokkinakis. Fritz also a first-round bye and he could meet with Cilic, Jeremy Chardy, or Simon in the last 16.

Elsewhere in the top half of the bracket, Coric and Evans are on a collision course for the quarterfinals. However, Coric could face an especially tough road potentially with Emiil Ruusuvuori in round two and Kyrgios immediately thereafter. Kyrgios is likely in line for an all-Aussie second-rounder against either Bernard Tomic or Marc Polmans.

Seeded second, Dimitrov is in a section with Humbert, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe, and Alexei Popyrin. Humbert vs. Tiafoe would be an intriguing third-round showdown, and it will probably happen based on their respective draws.

The bottom half of the draw is also home to Auger-Aliassime, Ruud, Sonego, and Marton Fucsovics. Auger-Aliassime struggled for much of last season and Ruud has never been effective on hard courts, so the door could be open for either Sonego or Fucsovics. Sonego famously upset Novak Djokovic last fall en route to a runner-up performance at the Vienna 500-point tournament.

Picks

Quarterfinals: Stan Wawrinka over Gilles Simon, Dan Evans over Borna Coric, Marton Fucsovics over Lorenzo Sonego, and Frances Tiafoe over Alexei Popyrin

Semifinals: Evans over Wawrinka and Tiafoe over Fucsovics

Final: Evans over Tiafoe

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