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Ricky’s Tennis picks for this week’s ATP 250 tournaments in Estoril and Munich

Diego Schwartzman of Argentina is coming off a strong performance in Barcelona. EPA-EFE/JASON O’BRIEN

By Ricky Dimon

The European clay-court swing continues with a bit of a quiet week in between two furious stretches of tennis. We just saw Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, and Belgrade come and go with star-studded fields. Two more Masters 1000s are on the immediate horizon, as Madrid and Rome will be the fourth and fifth such tournaments of the spring (also hard-court events in Indian Wells and Miami). Before that, however, a couple of 250s take center stage this week in Estoril and Munich. Although the two fields are not exactly stacked relative to some of the other stops on this clay-court swing, there is still plenty on offer. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Diego Schwartzman headline the Estoril draw, while Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud are among those in action in Munich.

Estoril Open

Where: Estoril, Portugal
Prize money: 534,555 Euros
Top seed: Felix Auger-Aliassime
Defending champion: Albert Ramos-Vinolas

Auger-Aliassime was red hot early in the season, but he has cooled off in a major way of late. Given the top seed’s struggles, the door could be wide open for everyone else in Estoril. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Frances Tiafoe, Sebastian Korda, and perhaps even a rusty Dominic Thiem will be among those looking to take advantage in the top half of the draw. Thiem, who is 0-2 so far in his comeback from a 10-month absence, could go head-to-head with Korda in the second round. They are potential quarterfinal opponents for Auger-Aliassime in an intriguing section of the bracket.

Schwartzman may have an easier time of things on the other side. Coming off a semifinal showing in Barcelona, the Argentine’s projected path to the Estoril title match is a friendly one. Clay-court specialist Albert Ramos-Vinolas could provide some difficulty in the semis, but Schwartzman would be a clear favorite in that matchup.

Quarterfinal picks: Sebastian Korda over Felix Auger-Aliassime, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina over Frances Tiafoe, Sebastian Baez over Tommy Paul, and Diego Schwartzman over Albert Ramos-Vinolas

Semifinals: Davidovich Fokina over Korda and Schwartzman over Baez

Final: Schwartzman over Davidovich Fokina

Alexander Zverev returns to action in Germany. Photo credit: BNP Paribas Open Facebook

BMW Open

: Munich, Germany
Prize money: 534,555 Euros
Top seed: Alexander Zverev
Defending champion: Nikoloz Basilashvili

Zverev often dominates at home in Germany—especially at
the 250 level—and he is already a two-time champion in Munich (2017, 2018). That being said, his draw this year is not a good one. An in-form Holger Rune could be up first and Emil Ruusuvuori (1-0 in the head-to-head series against Zverev) is a possible quarterfinal foe. Huge-serving Reilly Opelka and clay-court guru Cristian Garin also find themselves in the top half of the bracket.

The bottom half is not as deep, but it is top heavy. Ruud and Miomir Kecmanovic are on a collision course for the semifinals. The Norwegian has established himself as a top-10 player, while the Serb has been one of the best players on tour this season. That would be a showdown between two of the ATP’s brightest rising stars, and it’s hard to see anyone who will be able to stop it from happening.

Quarterfinal picks: Alexander Zverev over Emil Ruusuvuori, Hugo
Gaston over Oscar Otte, Miomir Kecmanovic over Mackenzie McDonald, and Casper Ruud over Botic Van de Zandschulp

Semifinals: Zverev over Gaston and Kecmanovic over Ruud

Final: Kecmanovic over Zverev

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