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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Picks for the ATP 250 Tournament in Winston-Salem

Best Draw In Years • Could be Sold Out Daily • Fair Ticket Prices

By Ricky Dimon

The arrival of the Winston-Salem Open only means one thing; the U.S. Open is just a week away.

In reality, of course, Winston-Salem means a little bit more–especially this year. It is generally a strong tournament (especially by the standards of a 250 immediately preceding a Grand Slam) in its own right and the 2021 installment is certainly no exception. Among those taking the court this week are Pablo Carreno Busta, David Goffin, Alexander Bublik, Marin Cilic, Benoit Paire, Frances Tiafoe, Carlos Alcaraz, Nick Kyrgios, and Andy Murray.

Winston-Salem Open
Where: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Surface: Hard
Top seed: Pablo Carreno Busta
2019 champion: Hubert Hurkacz (not playing)

All eyes are on the Kyrgios-Murray match on Sunday, and that showdown alone arguably makes the bottom half of the bracket more intriguing. The winner has to go up against Tiafoe in round two, which is without question another tough draw. Any of those players would probably be favored against a struggling Goffin in the last 16. Goffin, though, would do well just to get past James Duckworth in his opener. Elsewhere in the bottom half, Alcaraz and and Nikoloz Basilasvili are playing well but could have tough respective openers on their hands against Steve Johnson and Lorenzo Musetti.

At the top of the draw is Carreno Busta, who really doesn’t need more match practice. Perhaps the Spaniard accepted a late wild card into the event simply based on his past history in Winston-Salem. He is 13-5 lifetime with one title, one semifinal finish, and two quarterfinal showings. Carreno Busta should not have any trouble in the early rounds given the unspectacular competition, but things could get trickier in the form of Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals and possibly Bublik, Paire, or Evans in the semis. The world No. 12 obviously loves this tournament, but does he really want to jeopardize his favorite major–one at which he reached the semifinals last summer?

Second-round upset alert: Emil Ruusuvuori over (5) Alexander Bublik. There are a whole host of options here, especially with some of the higher-ranked players in Winston-Salem possibly more interested in taking their talents to New York. Ruusuvuori vs. Bublik is among those options, as the Kazakh is talented enough to make a run at the U.S. Open and has never done so before at any slam. He also isn’t the most focused or motivated player under any circumstances. This a good opportunity for Ruusuvuori, who has played basically every week during the U.S. Open Series and with decent results–including a semifinal effort in Atlanta.

Quarterfinal picks: Marin Cilic over Pablo Carreno Busta, Dan Evans over Emil Ruusuvuori, Carlos Alcaraz over Marcos Giron, and John Millman over Frances Tiafoe

Semifinals: Evans over Cilic and Alcaraz over Millman

Final: Alcaraz over Evans

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