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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Picks for this Week’s ATP Events in Doha, Marseille, and Santiago

Roger Federer returns to tennis this week in Doha.



By Ricky Dimon

Roger Federer returns this week, playing for the first time in more than 13 months in Doha. Federer is joined in a strong field by Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov, and Stan Wawrinka. That event will obviously dominate the headlines, but Marseille won’t lag too far behind with the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas taking part in that tournament. Meanwhile, the Golden Swing continues in Santiago with Chile’s own Cristian Garin as the top seed.

Qatar ExxonMobil Open

Where: Doha, Qatar
Surface: Hard
Points
: 250
Top seed: Dominic Thiem
Defending champion: Andrey Rublev

Federer won’t mind his draw in Doha. The 39-year-old was always going to be on the opposite side from Thiem, and he also has the benefit of a red-hot Andrey Rublev landing in the top half instead of the bottom. Federer will kick off his campaign against either Dan Evans or Jeremy Chardy before possibly running into Rotterdam semifinalist Borna Coric in the quarters. Denis Shapovalov, David Goffin, and Filip Krajinovic are potential semifinal foes for Federer.

On the other side of the bracket, Thiem and Rublev will also like their project paths to the semis and perhaps beyond. Neither one appears to have any serious roadblocks in the early rounds, while potential quarterfinal matchups are Thiem vs. Roberto Bautista Agut and Rublev vs. Stan Wawrinka. Both Bautista Agut and Wawrinka won’t be looking ahead, however. The Spaniard opens with Reilly Opelka and could meet Alexander Bublik in the last 16; Wawrinka is on a collision course for the second round with Rotterdam runner-up and familiar foe Marton Fucsovics.

Quarterfinal picks: Dominic Thiem over Reilly Opelka, Stan Wawrinka over Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov over Filip Krajinovic, and Borna Coric over Roger Federer

Semifinals
: Shapovalov over Coric and Wawrinka over Thiem

Final: Shapovalov over Wawrinka

Daniil Medvedev of Russia is the top seep in Marseille.

Open 13

Where: Marseille, France
Surface: Indoor hard
Top seed: Daniil Medvedev
Defending champion: Stefanos Tsitsipas

Medvedev and Tsitsipas are the top two seeds in Marseille, so another chapter in their rivalry could come in the final. Based on Medvedev’s performance in the Australian Open final and his opening match in Rotterdam (lost to Dusan Lajovic in straight), you shouldn’t hold your breath for that matchup. The third-ranked Russian’s draw doesn’t help, either, as Jannik Sinner is a potential quarterfinal opponent. Karen Khachanov, who started to find his form is Rotterdam, is also in the top half of the bracket.

Tsitsipas is coming off a long week in Rotterdam, where he ran out of gas against Rublev in the semis and also played doubles with his brother. The fifth-ranked Greek could have a difficult path in Marseille, as well, with Kei Nishikori as a possible quarterfinal opponent and Ugo Humbert most likely in the semis. Humbert awaits one of two veterans—Feliciano Lopez or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga—in his opening match. That shouldn’t be problematic for the up-and-coming Frenchman barring an unbelievable serving day by Tsonga or Lopez.

Semifinals: Jannik Sinner over Karen Khachanov and Stefanos Tsitsipas over Ugo Humbert

Final: Tsitsipas over Sinner

Chile Dove Men+Care Open

Where: Santiago, Chile
Surface: Clay
Top seed: Cristian Garin
2020 champion: Thiago Seyboth Wild (not playing)

The title at the second annual Santiago is wide open, just as it was in 2020 when Thiago Seyboth Wild lifted the first ATP trophy of his career in his surprise fashion. Thiem has bypassed the Golden Swing this year, Diego Schwartzman is resting after capturing the Buenos Aires title this past Sunday, and Garin is coming back from injury—not looking like the player he was at this time last season.

Garin should at least be able to reach the quarterfinals before possibly facing the winner of a first-round matchup between Federico Coria and Gianluca Mager. Pablo Andujar, Salvatore Caruso, and Cordoba champion Juan Manuel Cerundolo could also be factors in the top half of the draw. An all-Cerundo final is mathematically possible, as Francisco Cerundolo finds himself in the bottom half after finishing runner-up to Schwartzman in Buenos Aires on Sunday. The older Cerundolo brother is in the same section as No. 2 seed Benoit Paire, which is obviously a good thing for his chances of making another run. Laslo Djere, Frances Tiafoe, and Marco Cecchinato could also contend for a final spot and/or the title.

Semifinals: Pablo Andujar over Federico Coria and Laslo Djere over Jaume Munar

Final: Djere over Munar

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