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10sBalls | Ricky’s Tennis picks for this week’s ATP 250 tournaments in Newport and Bastad

Andy Murray will play Newport this week. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

You might think the hard-court summer immediately follows Wimbledon, but not so fast…. This week features one more grass-court tournament in addition to the beginning of another clay-court swing. Only after that—another week after that, in fact—will the U.S. Open Series begin.

Despjte Wimbledon having just ended on Sunday with Novak Djokovic’s victory over Nick Kyrgios, this week’s ATP 250 events boast strong fields. Newport is headlined by Felix Auger-Aliassime, John Isner, and Andy Murray, while Casper Ruud, Andrey Rublev, and Dominic Thiem are part of the Bastad lineup.

Hall of Fame Open

Where: Newport, Rhode Island
Surface: Grass
Top seed: Felix Auger-Aliassime
2021 champion: Kevin Anderson (not playing)

For a 250 grass-court event immediately following Wimbledon, the Newport field is stellar. Heck, what was once a Wimbledon quarterfinal (2017) is now a first-round matchup this week (Murray vs. Sam Querrey). Both an abdominal injury and an impressive Wimbledon performance by Isner derailed Murray’s last few weeks, but for the most part he is in fine form and should be able to do plenty of damage in Newport. The 35-year-old Scot’s draw is riddled with capable grass-courters, however. He could go up against Adrian Mannarino in round two, Alexander Bublik in the quarters, and Auger-Aliassime in the semis.

There are plenty of fun potential matchups in the bottom half of the bracket, as well. Maxime Cressy may have to open against Tim van Rijthoven, who won the ‘s-Hertogenbosch title and then made a run to week two at the All-England Club. Isner will likely kick off his bid for a fifth Newport title against Ugo Humbert, who has produced solid results on the lawn.

Quarterfinal picks: Felix Auger-Aliassime over Quentin Halys, Andy Murray over Jack Sock, Maxime Cressy over Jiri Vesely, and Benjamin Bonzi over Ugo Humbert

Semifinals: Murray over Auger-Aliassime and Cressy over Bonzi

Final: Murray over Cressy

Andrey Rublev of Russia returns to action this week. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

Nordea Open

Where: Bastad, Sweden
Surface: Clay
Top seed: Casper Ruud
Defending champion: Casper Ruud

More than a year later, Thiem finally won a match in his comeback from a wrist injury—albeit at the Challenger level. He will be hard-pressed to add another with Emil Ruusuvuori up first in Bastad. If the 28-year-old Austrian manages to advance, he would get Roberto Bautista Agut in the last 16 and then possibly either Sebastian Baez or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the quarterfinals. There are no easy paths through the bottom half of the draw for Thiem or anyone else, as it is also home to Rublev, Holger Rune, and Lorenzo Musetti. Musetti opens against Laslo Djere before potentially running into Rune.

Ruud, who is the No. 1 seed and defending champ, recently finished runner-up at Roland Garros—where he beat Rune in the quarters. The 23-year-old has a favorable draw this week; he probably won’t be tested until potentially facing Diego Schwartzman, Pablo Carreno Busta, or Stan Wawrinka in the semis. Carreno Busta vs. Wawrinka is an intriguing first-round contest on paper, but the Swiss’ return from injury has been mostly slow going.

Quarterfinal picks: Casper Ruud over Lorenzo Sonego, Albert Ramos-Vinolas over Diego Schwartzman, Sebastian Baez over Emil Ruusuvuori, and Andrey Rublev over Holger Rune

Semifinals: Ruud over Ramos-Vinolas and Rublev over Baez

Final: Rublev over Ruud

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