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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Picks for the ATP 250 Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne

Jannik Sinner is a leading contender for his second ATP title at the Great Ocean Road Open. EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV

By Ricky Dimon

The draw for first-ever Great Ocean Road Open was released on Saturday. Along with the inaugural Murray River Open, this pair of 250-point tournaments will headline the newly-formed Melbourne Summer Series in what is a most unusual Melbourne summer amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Like the Murray River Open, this one features a field of 56 players with the top eight receiving byes to the second round. That includes top-seeded David Goffin, who headlines the draw along with fellow seeds Karen Khachanov, Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner, Reilly Opelka, Alexander Bublik, Sam Querrey, Vasek Pospisil, and Feliciano Lopez.

Even though Goffin is the top-ranked player at the Great Ocean Road Open, his road won’t be easy. The 30-year-old Belgian could run into up-and-coming Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in round two before possibly meeting Pospisil in the last 16. Jordan Thompson, who had the benefit of already being in Australia and therefore did not have to travel or quarantine, is a potential quarterfinal foe for either Goffin or Pospisil.Also in the top half of the draw is Hurkacz, a champion in Delray Beach to begin the 2021 campaign. Hurkacz’s quarter includes Bublik, Querrey, Dominik Koepfer, Robin Haase, and quarantine social media star Pablo Cuevas.

With Goffin, Hurkacz, and Bublik in the top half and guys like Sinner, Opelka, and Tennys Sandgren (who always seems to play well at Melbourne Park) on the bottom half, this appears to be a balanced bracket. Sinner wrapped up last season in red-hot form and he has enjoyed two weeks of practicing with Rafael Nadal in Adelaide while many others were forced into hard quarantine in Melbourne. Both of those factors make the 19-year-old Italian arguably the title favorite. He may not have much of an early-round test, but a Sinner-Sandgren quarterfinal would be particularly entertaining.

Seeded second, Khachanov is on a collision course for the third round with whoever wins an opening battle between Lopez and Kevin Anderson. Opelka also finds himself in the bottom section of the draw.

Picks

Quarterfinals: Vasek Pospisil over Jordan Thompson, Alexander Bublik over Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner over Salvatore Caruso, and Kevin Anderson over Reilly Opelka

Semifinals: Pospisil over Bublik and Sinner over Anderson

Final: Sinner over Pospisil

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