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Ricky’s Tennis preview and picks for the Singapore Semifinals: Bublik vs. Albot and Cilic vs. Popyrin

Marin Cilic of Croatia in action faces Alexei Popyrin in the Singapore Tennis Open Semifinals.

By Ricky Dimon

Alexei Popyrin is the only unseeded player remaining in Singapore and he will try to keep his run going against Marin Cilic during semifinal action on Saturday. Alexander Bublik and Radu Albot are also bidding for a place in the title match.

Ricky previews the action and makes his predictions.

(6) Radu Albot vs. (4) Alexander Bublik

Bublik and Albot will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers (first on the main tour) when they collide in the Singapore Open semifinals on Saturday. Their only previous encounter came five years ago at a clay-court Challenger event in Russia, where Bublik prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. An indoor setting will be more advantageous for the 46th-ranked Kazakh, who serves huge and doesn’t like to play long points. Bublik is coming off a stellar 2020 campaign and he has remained in fine form with straight-set victories this week over Altug Celikbilek and Yoshihito Nishioka.

Albot did next to nothing last season but from out of nowhere he is playing well in 2021. The 76th-ranked Moldovan reached the third round of the Australian Open and he is through to the Singapore semis thanks to defeats of John-Patrick Smith, Yannick Hanfmann, and Adrian Mannarino. Albot has dropped two sets, whereas Bublik’s set scores are 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, and 6-2. On this surface, a red-hot fourth seed should have too much power for Albot.

Pick: Bublik in 2

(3) Marin Cilic vs. Alexei Popyrin

Cilic is the owner of 18 ATP titles (including the 2014 U.S. Open) and has has played in 32 finals. Popyrin has never advanced to a final at the tour level. However, this should be a lot more competitive than those statistics suggest. Cilic is well past his prime and has not captured a title or even been to a final since lifting the Queen’s Club trophy in 2018. The 32-year-old Croat has slumped to 44th in the rankings and he is still 4-8 in his last 12 matches despite winning twice this week (d. Taro Daniel in straight sets and Soonwoo Kwon in three).

Popyrin is outside the top 100 (No. 114), but he is undoubtedly on the rise and will be back inside the top 100 if he beats Cilic. The 21-year-old Aussie won three matches during the Australian summer–two at the Murray River Open and in five sets over David Goffin at the Australian Open. So far in Singapore he has ousted Christopher Eubanks, Adrian Andreev, and Matthew Ebden–surrendering just one set to Andreev in the process. A more confident Popyrin has a great chance of pulling off a minor upset.

Pick: Popyrin in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.