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Ricky’s Tennis preview and picks for this week’s ATP events in Rotterdam, Dallas, and Buenos Aires

Andrey Rublev returns to action in Rotterdam this week. EPA-EFE/Alessandro Di Marco

By Ricky Dimon

For weeks in which no members of the Big 3 participate, this one is about as big as it gets. The European indoor swing heats up with a 500-point tournament in Rotterdam, where Stefanos Tsitsipas and defending champion Andrey Rublev are two of the contenders. At the inaugural Dallas 250, a strong American contingent is led by Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, John Isner, and Jenson Brooksby. Last but not least, Juan Martin Del Potro is finally making his return to tennis. But it could be a bittersweet one in Buenos Aires….

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament

Where: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Surface: Indoor hard
Points: 500

Top seed: Stefanos Tsitsipas

Daniil Medvedev understandably needs some more time to recover from the Australian Open (and specifically the final against Rafael Nadal), but the field remains an impressive one for the first ATP 500 of the year despite the Russian’s withdrawal. Tsitsipas is now the No. 1 seed, and his draw is not a bad one. Although Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is not the easiest of first-round opponents, Tsitsipas should not have much trouble on an indoor hard court. The Greek is on a collision course with Nikoloz Basilashvili for the quarterfinals and with Hubert Hurkacz or Denis Shapovalov in the semis. Botic Van de Zandschulp could present some early-round problems for Hurkacz and Shapovalov.

A more difficult bottom half of the bracket features Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andy Murray, and Aslan Karatsev. Murray opens against Montpellier champion Alexander Bublik and could run into Auger-Aliassime in the last 16. Karatsev may bow out right away at the hands of in-form Dutch wild card Tallon Griekspoor. Whoever wins that Karatsev-Griekspoor contest will most likely be the eventual quarterfinal opponent for Rublev.

Quarterfinal picks: Alex de Minaur over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Botic Van de Zandschulp over Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime over Karen Khachanov, and Andrey Rublev over Tallon Griekspoor

Semifinals: De Minaur over Van de Zandschulp and Rublev over Auger-Aliassime

Final: Rublev over De Minaur

Brandon Nakashima is set up for a deep run in Dallas. EPA-EFE/Jorge Reyes

Dallas Open

Where: Dallas, Texas
Surface: Indoor hard
: 250

Top seed: Taylor Fritz

Look no further than the Isner section of the draw to get an idea of what the first-ever Dallas Open is all about. Kevin Anderson and Sam Querrey are going head-to-head in the opening round; the winner will meet Isner; the winner of that could potentially face Maxime Cressy in the quarterfinals; the winner of that would likely get Opelka in the semis. Yes, there are a ton of Americans (Anderson not included) in the field and there will be plenty of huge serving from start to finish.

The other half of the bracket should feature some longer rallies, although Fritz has also been known to take the racket out of opponents’ hands. Fritz has been in outstanding form dating back to last fall, so he is an obvious title favorite. The 24-year-old has a favorable draw, too, until potentially going up against either Brooksby or Brandon Nakashima in the semifinals. Brooksby and Nakashima are also two of the USA’s brightest rising stars. It’s an intriguing mix of youngsters and veterans (including 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez) in Dallas.

Quarterfinal picks: Taylor Fritz over Marcos Giron, Brandon Nakashima over Jenson Brooksby, Maxime Cressy over John Isner, and Reilly Opelka over Steve Johnson

Semifinals: Fritz over Nakashima and Cressy over Opelka

Final: Fritz over Cressy

Casper Ruud has emerged as one of Tour’s top clay-court players.

Argentina Open

Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Surface: Clay
: 250

Top seed: Casper Ruud

Yes, Del Potro is back. Unfortunately it may be more of a farewell than a comeback; those were the Argentine’s exact words at his pre-tournament press conference. Unable to fully recover from ongoing knee problems, Del Potro plans to retire at this Buenos Aires tournament or the following week in Rio de Janeiro. The 2009 U.S. Open champion will begin what could be his final event against compatriot Federico Delbonis in what could be his final match. Should Del Potro improbably put together a deep run, Fabio Fognini and Alejandro Tabilo are potential quarterfinal foes and Casper Ruud would probably loom large in the semis.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas just beat Tabilo in the Cordoba title match and the Spaniard’s draw in Buenos Aires is relatively open. Argentine up-and-comer Sebastian Baez may be a factor along with Lorenzo Sonego and Laslo Djere as they look to challenge Diego Schwartzman at the bottom of the bracket. Baez has an especially intriguing opener on his hands against fellow NextGen star Holger Rune.

Quarterfinal picks: Casper Ruud over Federico Coria, Alejandro Tabilo over Federico Delbonis, Sebastian Baez over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and Diego Schwartzman over Facundo Bagnis

Semifinals: Ruud over Tabilo and Schwartzman over Baez

Final: Ruud over Schwartzman

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