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Ricky’s Preview and Picks for This Week’s ATP Events in Marbella and Cagliari

Top Seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain leads the field at the Andalucia Open. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

By Ricky Dimon

The 2021 clay-court swing will begin with another Big 3-free week. That was the story in Miami, where Hubert Hurkacz capitalized on the opportunity for a surprising Masters 1000 title. Now there are a pair of 250-point titles up for grabs, and they are sure to be handed out to players outside the top 14. World No. 15 Pablo Carreno Busta is the highest-ranked player participating this week, joined in the Marbella field by Fabio Fognini, Casper Ruud, and Carlos Alcaraz. World No. 32 Dan Evans is the top seed in Cagliari, where Taylor Fritz and Lorenzo Musetti are also in action.

Andalucia Open

Where: Marbella, Spain
Surface: Clay
Top seed: Pablo Carreno Busta
Defending champion: None (inaugural event)

A total of eight players hail from the host nation in this inaugural tournament in Marbella, Spain. Its best chance at producing a champion, however, may not be the top-seeded Carreno Busta. Due to injury, Carreno Busta has played only one match since the Australian Open–losing right away in Dubai. Good news in the Spanish department, though, is that Albert Ramos-Vinolas went 7-2 on the Golden Swing by reaching the final in Cordoba and the semis in Buenos Aires. His clay-court game is clearly in the kind of shape that could propel him to another impressive run in Marbella.

In the bottom half of the draw, Fognini and Ruud are on a collision course for the semifinals. Ruud may have a slightly tougher draw with Alcaraz possibly in the quarters, but the Norwegian is a proven force on the red stuff.

Semifinal picks: Albert Ramos-Vinolas over Facundo Bagnis and Casper Ruud over Fabio Fognini

Final: Ruud over Ramos-Vinolas

Daniel Evans of Great Britain is the top seed at the Sardegna Open. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

Sardegna Open

Where: Cagliari, Italy
Surface: Clay
Top seed: Dan Evans
Defending champion: None (inaugural event)

In Marbella, Alcaraz is an unseeded teenager who is already a title contender in his home country. The story is the exact same for Musetti in Cagliari. Only 19 years old, the Italian is coming off a semifinal showing in Acapulco and a third-round performance in Miami. At home and on clay, Musetti should have a good chance against the top-seeded Evans in round two. Nikoloz Basilashvili, Jan-Lennard Struff, and Laslo Djere are also realistic contenders in the top half of the bracket.

On the other side, Fritz and fellow American Tommy Paul cannot be discounted. Fritz is solid on all surfaces and Paul is arguably the best clay-courter from the United States. That’s not to say the eighth seed is better on it than he is on hard courts, but he is adept enough. Italians Lorenzo Sonego, Marco Cecchinato, and Stefano Travaglia could also find themselves in the mix this week.

Semifinal picks: Lorenzo Musetti over Jan-Lennard Struff and Aljaz Bedene over Tommy Paul

Final: Musetti over Bedene

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