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Ricky’s preview and picks for this week’s ATP events in Dubai, Acapulco, and Santiago

Matteo Berrettini is Ricky’s pick to beat Rafa Nadal and win Acapulco. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT

By Ricky Dimon

The furious February swing on the ATP Tour is finally coming to an end, but it is going out with a bang. A pair of 500-point tournaments are on this week’s schedule, drawing both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal back to the court. Djokovic headlines the Dubai field along with Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Jannik Sinner. Nadal is joined in Acapulco by Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Matteo Berrettini. Meanwhile, the Golden Swing wraps up in Santiago.

Abierto Mexicano Telcel

Where: Acapulco, Mexico
Surface: Hard
: 500

Top seed: Daniil Medvedev
Defending champion: Alexander Zverev

This is just about as good as it gets for an ATP 500. In fact, five of the top six players on hand—the only exception being Djokovic, who is in Dubai. Nadal is back in action for the first time since his record-breaking Australian Open title, and a rude draw awaits him. The 35-year-old Spaniard will kick off his campaign against Dallas champion and current Delray Beach finalist Reilly Opelka before possibly facing another big-serving American in Maxime Cressy. Acapulco conditions suit Nadal’s game just fine, but they do the same for Opelka and Cressy. Berrettini is in the same quarter of the bracket, while Medvedev is in the same half. Taylor Fritz, who finished runner-up to Nadal in 2020, could meet Medvedev in the quarterfinals.

Like Berrettini, Carlos Alcaraz is making a move from clay to hard courts. Currently in the Rio de Janeiro final, Alcaraz will begin in Acapulco against current Delray Beach finalist Cameron Norrie. The winner of that showdown is likely to run into John Isner during second-round action and then possibly Zverev in the quarters. Tsitsipas finds himself in by far the weakest quarter of the draw, and he may need all the help he can get given his recent struggles in Rotterdam and Marseille.

Quarterfinal picks: Taylor Fritz over Daniil Medvedev, Matteo Berrettini over Rafael Nadal, Pablo Carreno Busta over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Carlos Alcaraz over Jenson Brooksby

Semifinals: Berrettini over Fritz and Alcaraz over Carreno Busta

Final: Berrettini over Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic of Serbia performs during a training session ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 20 February 2022. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

: Dubai, U.A.E.
Surface: Hard
: 500

Top seed: Novak Djokovic
Defending champion: Aslan Karatsev

Djokovic is back. It remains to be seen how many tournaments and which ones he will play as the Covid-19 pandemic continues and his vaccination status (or lack thereof) remains unchanged, but he is good to go in Dubai. The world No. 1 is playing for the first time in 2022 and his game will have to get up to speed in a hurry. Djokovic starts off with Lorenzo Musetti, who took two sets in their French Open match last spring. Karen Khachanov in the second round and Marin Cilic in the last eight could be the Serb’s next two opponents. An intriguing opener in the top half of the draw pits Auger-Aliassime—the Rotterdam winner and Marseille finalist—against Doha runner-up Nikoloz Basilashvili. Shapovalov is part of his fellow Canadian’s quarter, but the left-hander’s current form doesn’t inspire much confidence.

With fellow seeds Hubert Hurkacz and Aslan Karatsev in less than impressive form, Rublev and Sinner have every reason to reach the semis. Rublev captured the Marseille title on Sunday, and when the Russian gets on a roll he is tough to stop. Sinner is coming off a quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open. Andy Murray is a potential second-round for Sinner, but nothing about the 34-year-old Scot’s level right now suggests he is on the verge of scoring a top-10 win.

Quarterfinal picks: Novak Djokovic over Roberto Bautista Agut, Felix Auger-Aliassime over Marton Fucsovics, Jannik Sinner over Botic Van de Zandschulp, and Andrey Rublev over Mackenzie McDonald

Semifinals: Djokovic over Auger-Aliassime and Sinner over Rublev

Final: Djokovic over Sinner

Alejandro Tabilo of Chile aims for impact at his home tournament, 17 January 2022. EPA-EFE/JASON O’BRIEN

Chile Dove Men+Care Open

: Santiago, Chile
Surface: Clay
Points: 250

Top seed: Cristian Garin
Defending champion: Cristian Garin

Chilean tennis—and the fans in Santiago—are not going to like this draw one bit. Cristian Garin and Alejandro Tabilo are the country’s two best players, but at least one will be out in the second round. Garin has a first-round bye as the top seed and he awaits the winner of Tabilo vs. Renzo Olivo. It is an all-around rough section of the bracket, as Miomir Kecmanovic, Holger Rune, and former French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato also find themselves in the top quarter.

A distinct Argentine flavor marks the bottom half of the bracket. It is home to Federico Delbonis, Sebastian Baez, Facundo Bagnis, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Juan Ignacio Londero, and Tomas Martin Etcheverry. Baez is one of the rising stars on tour, but Ramos-Vinolas has to be considered the favorite to reach the final. The 33-year-old Spaniard triumphed in Cordoba at the beginning of the clay-court swing, beating Tabilo in the final.

Quarterfinal picks: Alejandro Tabilo over Miomir Kecmanovic, Jaume Munar over Federico Coria, Sebastian Baez over Federico Delbonis, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas over Francisco Cerundolo

Semifinals: Tabilo over Munar and Ramos-Vinolas over Baez

Final: Tabilo over Ramos-Vinolas

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