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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Picks for This Week’s ATP 250s in Adelaide and Sydney

Frances Tiafoe of the USA in action during his match against Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia on Day 3 of the Adelaide International Tennis Tournament, at Memorial Drive, in Adelaide Australia, 05 January 2022. EPA-EFE/MATT TURNER

By Ricky Dimon

The Australian Open is just one week away, so many of the top men in the world will be making their way from the ATP Cup to Melbourne–or in Rafael Nadal’s case staying in Melbourne. There are, however, two more 250 tournaments on offer this coming week in Adelaide and Sydney as players fine-tune their games for the first Grand Slam of 2022. Among those in action are Gael Monfils, John Isner, Karen Khachanov, Marin Cilic, Aslan Karatsev, Nick Kyrgios, and Andy Murray.

Adelaide International 2

Where: Adelaide, Australia
Prize money
: $493,875
Top seed: Gael Monfils
Defending champion: Inaugural event

Monfils won the title at the first Adelaide event, so it remains to be seen if he keeps his name in this week’s field. Given the Frenchman’s injury history, it seems like there is little reason for him to require more matches in advance of the Australian Open. Even if Monfils does play, the winner of a first-round showdown between Marton Fucsovics and Botic Van de Zandschulp should have a good chance of reaching at least the semifinals. Khachanov, who lost to Monfils in Sunday’s final, also finds himself in the top half of the bracket.

Cilic may have a tough time making it back to the semis, where he was beaten by Khachanov this past week. The third-seeded Croat could face John Millman in his opener before potentially running into Frances Tiafoe in the last eight. Adelaide’s bottom quarter of the draw is wide open among the likes of Isner, Alexander Bublik, Benoit Paire, and Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Quarterfinal picks: Botic Van de Zandschulp over Gael Monfils, Karen Khachanov over Arthur Rinderknech, Frances Tiafoe over Marin Cilic, and Thanasi Kokkinakis over Alex Bolt

Semifinals: Van de Zandschulp over Khachanov and Tiafoe over Kokkinakis

Final: Tiafoe over Van de Zandschulp

Sydney Tennis Classic

Where: Sydney, Australia
Prize money
: $521,000
Top seed: Aslan Karatsev
Defending champion: Inaugural event

Two of the biggest names in tennis are not only unseeded in Sydney but also needed wild cards just to gain entry. Both Murray and Kyrios have missed significant chunks of time–for various reasons–over the past few years and they are eager for some match practice in the buildup to the Aussie Open. Murray is hoping to rebound from an opening loss to Facundo Bagnis last week in Melbourne. The former world No. 1 will kick off his campaign against a qualifier before possibly facing second seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in round two. Murray and Kyrgios are on a collision course for the semis, but Kyrgios has to go up against Fabio Fognini right off the bat.

One of the guys to watch in the top half of the bracket is Dan Evans, who captured his first ATP title this time last year in Melbourne. The Brit is coming off an impressive showing at the ATP Cup, so he has to be feeling confident for this week and also for the Australian Open. Karatsev missed the ATP Cup because of a positive Covid-19 test, so his form is more of a question mark. Evans, Lorenzo Sonego, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Alexei Popyrin, or Melbourne runner-up Maxime Cressy could take advantage.

Quarterfinal picks: Lorenzo Sonego over Aslan Karatsev, Dan Evans over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Reilly Opelka over Brandon Nakashima, and Andy Murray over Albert Ramos-Vinolas

Semifinals: Evans over Sonego and Murray over Opelka

Final: Murray over Evans

Andy Murray Sydney Tennis Classic practice 2022.

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